The Carolina Hurricanes will be starting a six-game road trip with a back-to-back against the Tampa Bay Lightning Monday and Tuesday night. The team will then play a two-game series against the Florida Panthers and Dallas Stars.
Head coach Rod Brind’Amour as well as Dougie Hamilton and Cedric Paquette spoke to the media via Zoom following Monday’s practice in Tampa. Here’s what they had to say:
On how he would describe playing against Tampa Bay: They’re relentless. You watch how they play, they’re on you all the time. They’re a go-go-go offense. I guess it’s very similar. They don’t bring pucks back. It’s just relentless forecheck. They’re known as a skill team, but you watch and they dump more pucks than most teams. It’s just they’re on you. The difference between this team and a lot of teams is if you mess up, they make you pay and that’s the problem. You just can’t afford to have lapses because they know how to put the puck in the net.
On the key to being effective with an aggressive system: Every team is basically playing the same thing. I think it’s more that you’ve got to have that energy and you can’t take a breath. It’s hard work and at the end of the day, when we’re successful, it’s because we’re competing hard and we’re digging in. That’s just the way it goes.
On if the coming games against Tampa and Florida could be mini playoff previews: I don’t know. I still feel like we still have a little bit to go to get to that point, but obviously Tampa and Florida are two of the elite teams in the league. They’re going to be there at the end and we’re going to have to go through one of them, if not both of them, at some point if we want to have success. I’m not really worrying about the playoffs yet. We’ve got to get through the rest of these games and focus on tonight. It’s going to be a challenge no matter what. You get to the playoffs and it’s a different animal, but we’ll talk about that when and if we get there.
On if Teuvo Teravainen will play during the road trip: Not sure. I hope so. Just waiting on him to say, ‘Book me in,’ and then he’ll go in. Positive side is that he’s at least practicing with us so he’s part of the group now. Hopefully he’ll get the bug and feel good and he’ll get in there.
On if the sixth, seventh and eighth games against opponents gets more challenging: It’s always challenging. But we have the best video scouts in the world. There’s nothing that catches us off guard. But I think the challenging part is that you know what they’re doing and they know what you’re doing and you try to mix it up a little bit, but you have to stick to your game. I think that’s the whole key. I think teams that try to mix it up too much get away from what they want to do. It’s always about your style of play that you want to impose on the other team.
On the goalie rotation: We talk about it every day. Do we have a plan? Yeah, but we’re basically going day-to-day on it with how we want to focus in. It’s tough on those guys because no matter what, you’re not going to make everybody happy. We just have to do what’s best for the group though. We’re probably going to lean to two guys more just to keep them sharp. You don’t want to have guys getting a little stale.
On if it’s fun coaching against guys like Jon Cooper and Joel Quenneville and if there’s more to learn from them: I wouldn’t call it fun. You learn from everybody. It doesn’t matter who it is. You’re always picking up things. Little plays here or there or styles. You’re learning all the time from all the coaches. But these guys are the best coaches. Probably learn a little more. Hopefully not tonight. Usually you learn from some sort of mistake, but you’re always learning for sure.
On if goalies should be in consideration for the Hart trophy more often: I think back in the day, the goalies played way more. Hasek should have won his MVPs because he was so dominant. Without him in the net, they wouldn’t have been anywhere near where they were. I think now, where most teams are using two goalies, it makes it a little harder because the body of work is just not there. It doesn’t mean that they are any less valuable, it’s just that I think you have to lean more to guys that play every day or the bulk of the games. That kind of eliminates some goalies.
On the starting goaltender for tonight and tomorrow: Mrazek is in for tonight and we haven’t made the decision on tomorrow yet.
On how he would describing playing Tampa Bay: It’s obviously a hard game against them. They won the Stanley Cup last year. I’m not really good at translating over different things like that but they’re definitely a really good team. We know what we’re in for and we have to do our best to prepare for that.
On Jani Hakanpaa: He’s been great. My first impression was on how big he was and right from the start. Big and physical. He’s been great for our team. Had a really nice shot last game and everyone’s been really happy with him and his attitude off the ice. Just a really good guy and it’s been great so far.
On the hardest part of these coming games: Not sure yet because they haven’t happened. I guess you’ve got to have the same mentality that we’ve had all year. Just one game at a time and one day at a time. We know it’s like 13 games in 24 days or something like that so we know there’s going to be a lot of hockey. We know the standings and we know everything that’s coming. Try not to look too far ahead and take it one day and one game at a time and see where it takes us.
On if he likes the two-game sets: I have no idea. I don’t really care. I just play hockey. Wherever they tell me where to go, I’ll go and get ready for the games. I don’t really care. I think it’s different because of COVID. I don’t know what it would be like if we could go to restaurants and stuff like that. I don’t know if it would change things. It’s hard to say. It’s a little bit different where in past years, we were in and out different cities more. You don’t spend too much time at home and then on the road. Right now you can’t even remember your last road game. It’s just a little bit different. I think my schedule was a little more like that on the west coast. We had more home stands and road trips with kind of the same six and nine type of thing and then back home for two weeks. In the east it’s a bit more different then it is now. I don’t really know though. There’s good and bad to it all. I don’t really have a say.
On if he likes the two-game sets: It’s great to have some competition against guys two to three times in a row. It’s less travel too if you’re going to stay for a couple of nights. It’s nice to go out to dinner with the boys if we can go back to normal. I’d think I’d like to continue to do it that way.
On similarities between the Hurricanes and the Lightning: It’s a similar system I think. You want to play fast. Think quick in our zone and go right away in their zone. There’s no breath to take. We want to play fast and physical and I think it’s very similar.
On how Jon Cooper elevates his team: It’s similar for every team. It’s always next-man-up. That’s what they’re doing right now. They have some guys coming in and playing good. Have good team systems and they’re playing well right now. I’m not surprised by it. They’re a good team.
On a favorite moment from last season: The whole experience was great. We had so much fun as a team and spent a lot of time together. We hung out every day and it was great. Obviously winning the cup there. Great celebration after, but I think every day it was great to be around the boys.