The Hurricanes will start a pivotal two-game set in Florida against the Panthers tonight, as the winner will move into first place in the Central Division.
They’ll do so without the services of Brady Skjei, who is in the league’s concussion protocol after taking a hit from behind Tuesday night. Rod Brind’Amour and Jordan Staal spoke to the media Thursday morning, here’s a full breakdown of everything they had to say:
On Teuvo Teravianen and Brady Skjei: Nothing [new] with Teravainen, he’s out there. But Brady’s out. He’s in the concussion protocol.
On a starter in net and who will draw in for Skjei on defense: [Alex Nedeljkovic] is actually playing, and we’re going to put in [Joakim Ryan], I think, in the back end.
On if Nedeljkovic should be in the Calder Trophy conversation: I think his body of work is not quite there yet to include him in with all those guys. Hopefully by the end of the year here, and we’ll see how many more starts he gets. Certainly his play has warranted it. It’s tough, probably, when you look at the other guys who have played all year. But that’s where those awards get tough to really say ‘Hey, you should be in there when your body of work’s not quite there.’ But definitely by how he’s played, for sure.
On if this division is the toughest: It is with the quality of competition. Obviously with Tampa, everybody knows. You don’t have to say much there. And then I think Florida’s just realizing the potential they’ve had here for a while, but it’s all coming together now. Obviously Dallas, they’re getting rolling now. They’re all tough, but there’s no doubt that if this division is not the toughest, it’s got to be right up there.
On battling emotional fatigue: Yeah, for sure. Everyone’s fighting it. All the teams are. How do you go about it is the question? There’s one way to play, and that’s the problem. You have to play it that way to be successful. So it takes a lot out of you. That’s why we try not to look too far ahead. Let’s just do what we’ve got to do today, do it right and in order to do that, you have to be emotionally and physically invested in the game. It’s hard, but that’s why there’s only one winner at the end of the year.
On the Florida Panthers: They’re a good team. They’re always a threat to score goals. They’re very quick at moving the puck off of turnovers and in their D zone. They’re always keeping you on your toes and you’ve always got to be aware of where everyone is on the ice. They’ve got some talented players, a good power play. So yeah, it’s a good team.
On Alex Nedeljkovic and if he should be in the Calder conversation: Absolutely. Every time he’s started, he’s given us a very good chance to win. You ask our D, he’s been amazing moving the puck, so it just takes more stress of our D zone. He does things that other goalies can’t do. Obviously he’s made some big saves at key times. He’s been a gamer for us. All our goalies have been really good this year, and Ned’s been no different. Him being in that conversation should be a must.
On his goal Tuesday night and if he would have handled the situation the same as a younger player: I don’t know if it would have been much different back in the day. I think I had a good position in front and I didn’t want to give it up. So obviously I was fortunate enough to get it out to the point. I was in the right spot. That’s where I wanted to be. I didn’t want to leave there.