With their spot in the playoffs secure, the Hurricanes are now turning their attention to the final eight games of the season as they look to lock up the top spot in the Central Division. That starts with tonight’s game against the Dallas Stars.
Rod Brind’Amour spoke to the media Tuesday afternoon, here’s a full breakdown of everything he had to say:
On his coaching and the way he’s applied the way he plays to the way he coaches: 100% on the pride part of it, but it’s what I’ve said all along here. You’ve got to give [Tom Dundon] credit for the immediate changes that were made. Really what this is about here, I say it all the time, is we have great people here that are committed to doing it right. I don’t think we saw the change this quickly. I think it was a vision that we had, ‘OK, we want to get relevant every year, we’ve got some good pieces here, keep building.’ I don’t want to say we underestimated the people that we have, but we sure as hell see it every day. That’s why we’re having success. It’s definitely a source of pride, no doubt.
On if he took things from his playing days to help the team get through this season: Yes and no. I think we played in a different era. So I have a little harder time with today’s player on some things, but I think they’re smarter. I think we’re way better educated on that, and we treat them way better. We have better methods to treat everything and understanding injuries, so it’s part of the game right now, and this year especially with the way the games are stacked, there’s no time for rest. An injury in the past which is a two or three-day thing, you wouldn’t even miss a game. Now you’re missing two games. So that’s why it’s magnified so much, but everyone’s dealing with it.
On making it to the playoffs and how it compares to past seasons: The story’s obviously not been written, but I do think to this point, you have to give these guys a lot of credit. To have eight games left and be sitting here talking this, like we’re in the playoffs, to me, that’s impressive. There’s still 16 points out there that we’ve got to fight for, and I don’t know if we’ve ever done that this early in any year. It doesn’t feel like it. It feels like we’re always right to the wire to get in, so that’s where the guys deserve a lot of credit for what they’ve done to this point. Now that’s behind us, and we’ve got to focus on the next eight games to finish this story of this regular season. There’s a lot at stake still.
On tonight’s goaltender: Tonight, we’re going with [Alex Nedeljkovic]
On the team’s goal of winning a Stanley Cup, and if that’s something everyone already understands or something he talks about: Both. It’s from day one. Like I said to the group, it was easy to come in here a couple years ago and we just had to raise the bar. The expectations weren’t high enough. Like I said, all of us, the staff, the players, the owner, we’re here to win the Stanley Cup. That’s what we’re playing for. There’s steps along the way you have to get to, and last night, we got through the first step. We’re on all the same page here, and we’re trying to be the last team standing, which means the team that wins it all.
On what makes a player MVP worthy: That’s a question that we could probably debate forever. I would say we all agree that Connor McDavid is the best player on the planet. I think that’s easy to see. And he’s probably the most valuable, because I don’t know what he can’t do. I watch him make that whole team better. So I think the most valuable player is obviously a guy that has talent, but who makes his team better. Connor definitely checks all those boxes.
On balancing trying to win the division with trying to get the team healthy: The way I look at it, there’s no easy way to play a hockey game, so you have to go out there to win. I think we’ve already kind of managed it where we’ve had a couple guys that were dinged up that I guarantee if we were fighting for that last spot, they’d be playing, but we said ‘OK, take some time off.’ So we’re in that process, but when we go to play the game, we prepare to win and we will do everything to win the game, because there’s no other way to do it. But the only caveat on that is if guys are dinged up, they’re not going to play. That’s just the facts.
On other lineup changes: It’s possible. The guys are on the ice now. We might have a couple guys added, but I don’t envision it. So I guess probably not.