As the Hurricanes continue to prepare for game one of their first-round series against Nashville Monday, a few players, including Steven Lorentz and Jake Bean, are getting ready for the first Stanley Cup Playoff action of their careers.
Lorentz, Bean and Rod Brind’Amour spoke to the media following Saturday’s practice, here’s a full breakdown of everything they had to say:
On Jaccob Slavin: Not much change there. I think we’re just giving as much time as possible. We’re certainly still hopeful he’ll be able to go. We’re just giving him as much time as possible, but I’m hopeful he’ll be in there.
On having more fans: I wasn’t overly concerned, it’s just that it’s definitely an advantage when you can feel the emotion in the building. I think players feed off that, there’s no way around it. So I think just being able to have that here as well, I think, will be nice for the guys. It’s great for the fans to be able to come here and watch this team, but it’s also good for the guys to have that emotion in the building.
On his best memory with Alex Nedeljkovic from the Calder Cup run: We had so many moments. I think probably just in the finals, there’s a really good picture of him, he’s jumping up, he was definitely the MVP of our team. And everyone’s just kind of flying to him. That was a pretty good snapshot there.
On his personal excitement for his first NHL playoff run: I’m very excited. I feel like I’ve been around it the last two years, not playing but kind of just right there. It feels like I’m just ready to go when you don’t get the opportunity. So I’m just excited to get a crack at it. We have a great group, and I think I’m just as excited as anyone.
On having more fans in the building: We haven’t really talked much about it, but it’ll make a huge difference. When we were in Nashville the last few games, it felt like it was the loudest we had played in all season. We know our fans are some of the loudest in the league, so more of them is going to be an even better atmosphere for us.
On realizing that going to the playoffs isn’t an every-year opportunity: Absolutely. I think just talking to some of the older guys, it’s obviously an accomplishment to get to where we ended up finishing this season. We obviously grinded it out this season. We battled so hard for so long, so we obviously deserve this position. But obviously you don’t get fortunate every single year, and some years you can have a strong year but you just don’t end up in that playoff position. I think every team that makes it, whether you’re the first seed or the bottom seed, you’ve battled so hard to get to that spot.
I think I’ve been fortunate throughout my whole career at different levels being able to make the playoffs, be on some really strong hockey clubs and win a championship in Charlotte. So being able to understand what it takes to go all the way and win, not even just just making the playoffs, it really gives you a bit of a sense of pride to be able to say ‘You know what, I made the playoffs in this league, and it’s not an easy thing to do. Not every team makes it.’ It’s pretty cool and it’s pretty special. I can’t wait to get it going.
On his emotions Monday night: I don’t want to wear my heart rate monitor and look at it, but I just know that I’m going to be so amped up for every game. Playoffs is a whole different animal and I look forward to it every single year. I know there’s a lot of guys in the room some games throughout the regular season, some games it’s just natural that it’s tougher to get up for than others. It’s human nature to just say ‘You know what, we’ve got to grind it out a little bit tonight.’ We might not be there mentally or physically, some guys are worn down. But in the playoffs, it doesn’t matter what game it is, whether some guys are going to be banged up. That’s going to be expected. But everybody shows up and is ready to rock as soon as the puck drops. So just that intensity and the life in the building is going to get the guys going, and that’s going to give us energy right out of the gate.
On his best memory of Alex Nedeljkovic from the Calder Cup run: Ned was just such a stud the entire playoffs, he was such a rock. Knowing that every single one of the guys was so confident with him in the net, whether we were down in the third period of a game or what, it didn’t matter, we knew that Ned was going to have our backs, and we just had to go and do our part and he obviously had such an incredible year that year. I’ll never forget, I didn’t play in the final game in Chicago, but we were standing right behind the net, and as soon as the buzzer went off, I just remember him jumping up in the air. There’s a really cool picture of it, but that’s kind of my first memory of being like ‘Wow, we just did it.’ Everything else after that was a blur, but I just remember it being fun for the next few days being able to celebrate and let it resonate what just happened. It was pretty special, and obviously winning the Stanley Cup would be a dream come true. That’s the next goal.
On playing his first NHL playoff games: I’m not sure yet, it’s an opportunity. So we’ll see what myself and the team can do with it, like I said before the playoffs, it doesn’t matter if you’re a first seed or an eight seed, whoever shows up ready to play and out-compete the other team, that’s usually the team that ends up on top. So I’m very, I would say a little bit nervous, obviously it’s another step, it’s a lot faster and more physical than the regular season, but I’d like to think I’m going to be prepared for that. But at the same time, it’s going to be much more exciting hockey with that much more at stake. Sometimes you can get away with things in the regular season that you can’t away with in the playoffs, and plays just come under the microscope a whole lot more. I love those little plays like that that could be the difference in costing a game or series. I like when the tough times are at stake.