Following the Hurricanes’ big win over Nashville Thursday night, the team hit the ice for practice Friday afternoon, where the big news was the return of Teuvo Teravainen, who’s missed over a month with concussion symptoms, to a full team practice.
Rod Brind’Amour, Brady Skjei and Brett Pesce spoke to the media after practice, here’s a full breakdown of everything they had to say:
On the challenges of this part of the season: It’s definitely mentally grinding on the guys. There’s no doubt about it. So you really have to guard against it. We give them lots of time off in between games. Obviously we didn’t today, but it’s trying to stay mentally sharp. That’s the toughest part, I think, when you’re playing every day, asking the same things of the guys every day to go out there and work, work, work and turn around the next day and do it again. That’s what being a pro is.
On Teuvo Teravainen: I don’t want to jinx it. That’s a good sign that he’s actually with us and practicing with no restrictions. It’s definitely a positive sign.
On teammates like Brady Skjei helping Jani Hakanpaa: I don’t how much that helps him or [Brady Skjei] helps him. I think just in general, all the guys are going to help him. I think maybe having a familiar face here helps more than a defense partner, having [Sebastian Aho] here, someone he certainly has a little bit of a relationship with in the past. I think that’ll help him just be comfortable. The more you’re comfortable in your surroundings, the more you’re going to pick up stuff. He’s going to work with [Dean Chynoweth], he has every day. We’ll keep hammering that home, and hope at some point it becomes second nature like it did with the other guys.
On the importance of getting a win Saturday before heading out on the road: It’s always important. Every game’s the same importance. We’re going on the road, it’s tough. Those are some tough games, but they’re all tough. I don’t know how you decide which one’s tougher. We want to win every game, and we’re definitely going to try to.
On how close Teravainen is to playing a game: I just don’t know. I’d love to be able to say he’s close. It’s up to him. He’s got to feel confident in his abilities to go out and play the way he can. I think the positive thing is he’s out there with us. That’s a lot better than it was. So I think that’s a good step in the right direction. Who knows whether it’ll be soon. I can’t tell you.
On if top teams are underestimating a team like Detroit: I don’t think anybody underestimates them. I think what happens is I’ve been in that situation where you’re that team that’s kind of got nothing to lose. You’re going to play hard. It’s the NHL. You’ve got good players on your team. And so it’s the combination of their team’s playing loose, and sometimes when you’re supposed to win games, those are the toughest ones to win. It’s just the way it is. But I don’t think any team’s taking anybody lightly in this league. That just doesn’t happen.
On Jani Hakanpaa playing with different partners: I don’t know. It’s probably a better question for Rod or [Dean Chynoweth]. But I think we kind of took some penalties at weird times and stuff like that so things just got mixed up. I really liked his game. I thought he was a physical presence and that’s something this team was missing and he can provide that.
On what a healthy Teuvo Teravainen can bring to the team: Just another level to our team. He’s truly an elite player. He’s a world-class player and obviously having a player like that come back into our lineup is going to make us better.
On pointers for Jani Hakanpaa: He sits right by me in the locker room so we were communicating last night. Throughout today, we were talking about some faceoff plays before I got in here. I try to help him out as much as I can. When I got traded here the one thing I really focused on was playing aggressive. That’s the way we want to play so try not second guessing yourself and I thought he did great last night of playing that way.
On if there was any aspects of the game still to clean up: There’s always little things. Overall I thought it was a really solid effort. We had a few chances in the first period that Petr bailed us out on with some big saves. There’s a few things that I think we can get better at, but overall that was a pretty good effort by us.
On Teuvo Teravainen: He’s a big part of this team. I think we all know that. He’s got elite skill. He’s a guy that can play at both ends of the ice for us. We’re definitely excited to get him back hopefully here in the near future.
On what the most challenging things are for this part of the season: I think we’re trying to stay focused on today and the day ahead. We’re not looking too far ahead. Obviously keeping your body healthy and staying in good shape is a big part. Right now we have a lot of games in a short number of days so we’ll be focused on that and trying to get better each day.