The Hurricanes don’t yet know when their first-round series will start, but they do know at some point in the next five days or so they’ll be opening what they hope is a lengthy 2021 playoff run against the Nashville Predators.
Rod Brind’Amour spoke to the media Wednesday about the team’s preparations, expectations and more, here’s a full breakdown of everything he had to say:
On if he knows the schedule and if the uncertainty has hurt his preparation in any way: I don’t know. It hasn’t hurt our preparation. We had a plan starting Saturday for this is how we would go. So nothing, to me, is changing yet. It’d be nice to know, obviously, but nothing as affected us yet.
On how confident he is the Canes will have everyone available when the series starts: Fairly.
On if his experience as a player with Martin Gerber and Cam Ward in 2006 affected his perspective on goalie decisions as a coach: For sure. I think day one, the goalies, when you have two of them and have faith in them, we talk a lot about it, you guys ask a ton of questions about goalies, and I spend so little time thinking about that. I guess when you have three that you feel pretty good about, I’ve got a lot of other fish to worry about. So we’ll make that decision at some point, but not right now.
On if it feels different making those decisions in the playoffs: It’s fairly easy. Somebody’s going to play, and you feel good about all of them. What you’re worried about more as a coach is do you have the system right, do you have the game plan right? When you have players you trust, it’s not about who’s in there. It’s ‘Is the message right? Did we do enough to get them prepared?’ That’s what I always worry about.
On if there’s any difference now from the first playoff run in terms of expectations: It’s no different for me than our first year. Our goal was to win. I know people made a big deal because we hadn’t done anything in forever, but we were disappointed that we didn’t win. The expectation here is to win. We’ve got a long road ahead of us, we’ve got a huge challenge, but that’s the expectation.
On Nashville having increased fan capacity and if he wants to see the Canes’ bumped up: Yes. How do you do it? It was a big deal playing in [Nashville] with that amount of fans, the energy level was intense and it felt great. And now they’re saying they’re going to have more in there. That’s a big advantage, there’s no doubt about it. Obviously that’s out of our hands, and we could talk about that all day, but it’d be nice if we could definitely do that. Our fans have been great, they might have to put a little extra effort in if they don’t have that many people in there.
On what goes into the goalie decision: Rest, physical and mental rest. We probably will have that going into this, so it kind of takes that out of the equation. Just staying sharp. It’s all those things. Who you’re playing, what kind of system are they running? Is one guy better vs. [the opponent]? There’s a lot of things that go into it, but at the end of the day we’re confident in whoever we pick.
On talking about the playoffs after getting through the regular season: It’s been a long, hard journey to get to this stage. We didn’t start the season saying we wanted to make the playoffs, but you had to make the playoffs to have a chance to win the whole thing. We’re here, now everybody that’s left is here and we’re starting over. That’s why in a way it’s kind of nice to have a little break in there because it really emphasizes that that’s done, over with and we’re starting fresh. We’ve got to get that energy level back up, and I think a little break will help.
On what happens on an off-ice day: We have meetings and they go to work, get the training in. But it’s really about this being a time where we as a group can get together with the guys. I always think that when you’re in the gym working out together is good. It’s positive. It’s that shared, mutual hardship. We’re in there together working, and not that it’s overly taxing at this time of year, but that’s the thought process behind it.
On if there’s a concern of rest vs. rust: I’m not too worried about rust because we were already getting rusty. It was that mental, we had to dust the mind here and get fresh again. So we’re going to practice hard, I think, depending on how many practices we get. We’ll have a few, for sure, and I think that’s what we need. So I do think the mental part was good, that’s why this little break’s probably better for us to re-juice. We accomplished the one part, which was get to this level where we get the chance to compete for the championship and now we’ve got to ramp it up to go get it.
On Teuvo Teravainen getting up to speed down the stretch: It’s good for him. I think that was the important part. We know what he can do. So it wasn’t like ‘I need to see what he’s all about.’ It was more for him to feel like ‘OK, I’m good.’ That’s really what was important to get those games under his belt. He probably didn’t need any games, by the looks of it. His first couple games were pretty impressive. But that’s really what that’s about.
On if there’s a difference in mentality between being an underdog and being one of the top teams of the league: I don’t think it’s any different, but it probably was. I think it’s easier to come in if no one’s expecting you to win. I think maybe that was our first year. I don’t think anyone gave us a chance to win any of those series. It’s probably easier to prepare the guys that way. Maybe now it’s a little different. But we’re certainly not going to prepare any differently or go about our business any differently.
On if playing these divisional opponents this many times created rivalries or added animosity: I think so. Let’s put it this way, after these series, they will for sure. I’m almost positive. There’s going to be too much going on with both teams trying to do the same things. We’re each in other’s way. So something’s going to give. What for sure will come out of it will be a little more animosity. I think that’s just par for the course.