The Hurricanes now finally know when their playoff series against the Nashville Predators will start, and continued their preparations Thursday with an on-ice practice.
Dougie Hamilton, Jordan Martinook and Rod Brind’Amour spoke to the media after, here’s a full breakdown of everything they had to say:
On Jaccob Slavin and Cedric Paquette: Nothing’s changed, really. Both those guys, we’re hopeful to get them back. Obviously they couldn’t practice today, so hopefully we’ll get them in here in the next few days.
On if it’s different when the team you’re playing is one you’ve had success against in the regular season: I think everything goes out the window, to be honest with you. During the year, there’s different reasons you might have success vs. teams. They might be banged up when you play them, they can be a different group. I think if you look at Nashville, for sure, the games we played them, earlier in the year, they were not the same team that they are now. It’s totally different. So everything goes out the window, I think you start all over at this point.
On playoff experience: I think having it is good just because you know how hard it is and you know what you have to do. You know how every game goes and how every little play matters. So just being involved in that over time, I think, helps you. But also, sometimes being new to it is good too because you don’t know all that stuff and you just go play. I think there might be less pressure when you’re new to it. I think the longer you’ve been around, the more the magnitude grows, because you know how fleeting it is. You never know if you’re going to get another chance at it, so the pressure kind of mounts. I think it’s good to have the experience, especially being kicked in the teeth a couple times. I think that helps as you move into it.
On going from the hunters to the hunted: I think all that kind of goes out the window. I feel like everybody’s now hunting each other. That’s our mentality. I mean, that’s the way we have to play anyway. I think you’re referring to it as we would be the hunted, but I think we’re the other way around. When we’re doing what we do, that’s how we play. So hopefully that’s the mentality we take.
On his quote about coaching being more about how you relate to players: I think what it just means is everybody coaches the systems. Everyone knows how to do that. That’s kind of basic, in my opinion. How do you get the guys to buy into that and how do you guys to compete every night?i To me, it’s all this other stuff than what you’re actually teaching them how to play. They know how to play. You’re really just working at other stuff. That seems to be the difference, that little margin. That’s what coaching, I think, comes in, when you have a good staff, good people. Getting guys to give that extra mile, that’s what it really comes down to.
On not being in the bubble: It will become, I think, a factor or benefit if you can get through a round or two. I think bubble was fine the first six or seven days, and then it went ‘Oh my gosh, what are we doing?’ Being at home and seeing your families, doing all that kind of alleviates that, I think being around. But that other part about just the guys, if you go long that grind that comes, it’s nice to have some luxuries or some normalcy, getting together and doing whatever. So I think that’s where you’ll see teams benefit that can go on.
On the emotions getting ready for the playoffs as a coach: It just feels like a lot of stress. As a player, you worry about yourself. ‘How do I get ready?’ You’re excited to go play. When you’re a coach, you’re worried about 20 guys. You’re worried about all of them, where they’re at, are they feeling good? So you’ve got that little bit of anxiety but also, it’s a good time of year. This is what they’ve worked for, to have a chance to play for the Stanley Cup, play in the playoffs. So it’s all come to this point, so it’s great.
On how he feels going into the playoffs: I’m feeling good. It was good to get in there. Obviously I wish the results were better that last game, but to get the confidence under my belt was good. I think I say this every year, you get re-energized by this time of year and it’s so much fun to play in these games, especially when you’ve seen both sides of it when you haven’t made it and how fortunate you are to play in these games, it’s a lot of fun and I’m pumped to get going.
On having playoff experience: I think its just knowing what can happen. There’s going to be times where it’s not going to be go perfect. I think we had a lot of guys in here that have experienced that. You’re going to have to dig in and realize there’s things that aren’t going to go your way. It’s adversity, overcoming that and you ask any team that wins the Stanley Cup, their ride is not going to be perfect. You’ve just got to be able to manage the emotions, manage the ebbs and flows of all that’s going to happen, and just try and rise above it.
On regular season success against Nashville: I think a lot gets made up about it. I guess you can take things we did well in games, but when you come to playoff time, it comes to one or two plays that’s going to win games. It’s just trying to figure out how we can be on the right side of those plays and just, like I said, it’s one or two things that’s going to be the difference. I think regular-season success, you can kind of wash that and it’s a whole new animal now.
On getting players pumped up for the postseason: I don’t know if it changes much from the regular season to the postseason, but I feel like everybody that we have here has been around it before. So it’s just knowing how important every shift, every minute, the way you prepare. Everything that you do right now is what you need to do to be successful out there. If I’ve got to scream a little louder, then I’ll be screaming a little louder, but I probably won’t change too much.
On the difference between being underdogs and favorites: I think in any sport, if you’re the underdog, you kind of use that to help you. But I think we put in a ton of work to get to where we are. I think if you asked everybody in our room, the end goal is to win the Stanley Cup. I think every team thinks that they’re probably getting rooted against, so I don’t know. I think our main goal is to win the Stanley Cup, and whatever we need to do to get there, whatever we need to say to each other, that’s our main objective. It doesn’t matter if you’re the under dog or the top dog, we’ve got one thing on our mind.
On Rod Brind’Amour’s leadership and if he should be a contender for the Jack Adams: I think this has been a unique year, and I think we’ve been competitive in every single game except obviously the last one. To have that in your back pocket to know that we were in every single game and we could have been on the other side of the ones that we lost, it’s a big confidence builder. I think Roddy, his message is you’ve got to do it right 100% of the time. I think he really pushed us this year and obviously it was a ton of hockey. Everybody pushed each other and he was obviously the driving force behind all of it. And yeah, of course, he should definitely be in the running for the coach of the year.
On Alex Nedeljkovic and his personality: Personality off the ice, he’s just super positive. I feel like every time you say good morning and ask him how he’s doing, he’s always saying ‘It’s great, I’m great’ and it’s just a positive guy to be around. On the ice, his play speaks for itself. He’s been very good for us. I think all three of our goalies have been pretty good this year. Ned’s a good guy to be around, he’s got that kind of quiet confidence about himself that is nice to see in a goalie, and he’s been really good this year.
On if having the extra days to practice helps: I think so. Obviously we can’t play right now, so we’ve got to be positive about what we have ahead of us and a chance to reset, get everything back, the sore spots, try to fix those things off the ice, and on the ice, work on some stuff. It’s nice to have some time to be able to do that. So we just have to do our best to take advantage of that.
On the value of having playoff experience: Two years ago, we didn’t have any. I don’t know if it matters, to be honest. I think obviously leadership is huge, I think, to help you through that stuff. We’ve got guys who have been through it, and Rod obviously. So I think that helps. But I don’t think it matters when you’re playing games. So all that other stuff, the mentality and all that stuff, I think it definitely helps. But it’s not a huge thing, I think.
On playing Nashville so many times in a row: Everything’s off this year, so it doesn’t really matter. Playing a team that much during the season felt weird. I thought it was going to feel weird, all that stuff. But I think it wasn’t too bad in the end. We got a little break here, so kind of just try to learn from those last games we played them, have a chance to get better in the next couple days and we’ll be ready to go on Monday.
On Juuse Saros: I heard he’s been really good down the stretch, and he played really good against us that second to last game. Great goaltending, I think both their goalies are great. I think that’s a huge part of their team, and a huge part of all the playoff teams. I guess everyone has good goalies at this point. It’s huge. To win games, you need good goaltending. So we’re going to have to find ways to make it hard for him and see if we can do that, challenge him and hopefully we can get some by him.
On the Predators having more fans: Like you said, they had a lot of excitement there in their arena those last two games. And we know there’s going to be more. I think that’s just playoff hockey. I think that’s kind of what you expect, and I’m sure PNC will be very loud as well. We might not have as many fans, but they’ll definitely be buzzing in there, and hopefully we can use that to our advantage to see what we can do to quiet their crowd in Nashville.
On going back to normal playoffs after the bubble last year: We played 56 games this year, and I think it should be the same as that, obviously just way more on the line. But it’s the same preparations as all season so far here, and we’ll just have the excitement of playoff hockey. It should be the same as what we’re used to now. It’s kind of what we’re used to with this new everything, media on Zoom, all that kind of stuff. So that’s what we’re used to and we’ll keep it going.