After two double overtime wins for the Predators in Nashville, the Hurricanes’ first-round series is now a best of three. The team will need to regroup, refocus and win two of the next three to move on.
Brady Skjei, Andrei Svechnikov and Rod Brind’Amour spoke with the media Monday, here’s a full breakdown of everything they had to say:
On Andrei Svechnikov: His effort’s been great. He had a few last night, could have won it in overtime, came down the wing and just ripped it. That’s his game. He was great in the O-zone. I don’t really say too much. Generally when he needs a little tweaking in other areas is when we get to him. So he’s a creative player, he’s working hard and you’ve kind of got to let him do his thing.
On Max Lajoie: Obviously Jaccob being out, he’s a great defender. You can’t replicate that type of level, but what’s the next best player to do that. I think that’s where he came into play when you’re talking about Max. Talking to [Ryan Warsofsky], his coach for the year, he gave him a lot of positive reviews and felt like it was his time to get a crack at it. So he earned that opportunity and I think he’s done well. That’s a tough position. We’ve got a couple guys in our lineup on the back end that it’s tough, it’s not the easiest thing to do when you’re new to it at this level. But they’re doing their best and they’re hanging in there.
On the recovery for a coach after two tough games: That’s the part of coaching that’s why you probably why you don’t have long careers of it, at least in my opinion. Because it does take a toll, like I said. I said ‘What did we do wrong, why did we lose that game?’ And you’re going through everything, when at the end of the day, when I played I never blamed the coach for a win or a loss. But now that I’m here, you definitely feel like ‘OK, what could we have done differently?’ It wears on you, but that’s part of the job. It’s not fun, that’s for sure.
On the challenges of coaching back-to-back double overtimes: The challenge is those are tough ways to lose. It’s not the losses. We’re 2-2, the series is basically starting over. The world’s not caving in. We’re starting over. We’re at home. But it’s how we lost, where we felt like we could have won. I feel like that’s where it gets tough. You have to park it. We’ve moved on already, we’ve shown some things. Now it’s about reenergizing and getting excited about the opportunity that we have sitting in front of us.
On the input players have in rest days and recovery time: I think you get the mindset of how the guys are feeling. That’s where you go to the team. I know how I feel, but that may not be the same as the guys. It’s gone both times, where I’m feeling like ‘Wow, we needed a break’ and they’re like ‘Nope, we’re OK, we needed the other way.’ So that’s where the communication comes in. [Jordan Staal]’s got a good feel for the group in that regard, so I got to him on that and then we move forward.
On Alex Nedeljkovic and if this is a tough situation to make a decision on starting goalies: I think it’s easy because we have good options and Ned’s playing well. He certainly has kept us in these games and made some great saves. He’d like to have the one back, obviously, but he more than made up for that the rest of the way. The concern was and is is that’s not how we did it during the year, does it have any affect? That’s where we talk to him and get a feel for where he’s at both physically and mentally and make the decision on where we go.
On the power play: Obviously that’s the game, it’s probably been the last two games. We get one on the power play there, it’s a different story. But having said that, you go through it and you look, you’ve got [Svechnikov] with four shots at the tops of the circles and [Martin Necas] too. Those are, I think, about as grade-A as you’re going to get. Those are what we’re trying to set up and we just missed on a couple of our other little faceoff plays that we had. We can be sharper, but we had great zone time. That’s generally how I try to grade our power play, because those guys are talented. If they get enough cracks, enough opportunities, enough zone time, then I think things are going to work out in the end. So we’ve got to be a little sharper, but it certainly wasn’t as bad as the numbers indicate.
On one team getting more rest between series: I don’t know. There’s pros and cons to both. We had a series that went seven games a couple years ago, played a day and a half later and we ended up sweeping that series. The other team was sitting there, so they said ‘Well, they were rusty.’ I think it just depends who wins. I don’t think there’s a lot of carryover, unless there’s injuries. Now that’s a different equation. To me, that’s the big thing about playing extra games is you run the risk of losing guys.
On Jaccob Slavin: There’s nothing I can tell you. He’s here, and I’m hopeful he’ll try it tomorrow. That’s kind of where we’re at, but I won’t know until tomorrow. He’ll tell us when he feels good. I wait for him to come tell me ‘I’m in’ and we’ll pencil him in.
On the mood today: The mood actually was better than I thought. I thought I was going to have to pick the pieces up a little bit today, and I didn’t. I think it was actually the other way around. They were pretty good. It’s a tough way to lose when you give everything like that. I feel like the guys felt like the ice was tilted in our favor, but it just didn’t work out. But you have to move on, whether we won or lost. We’ve done this all year. Focus on the day you have, try to make that your best day, win that day and that’s what we’re going with tomorrow.
On how he’s feeling after two double overtime games: I’m feeling fine. I think we work hard throughout the season for these kind of moments. I think Roddy does a great job at that and [Bill Burniston] with our workouts. But overall, I’m not too tired. I’m going to recover today and be ready to go tomorrow.
On if he’s ever played back-to-back double overtime games and if the fatigue is more mental or physical: This is the first time I think I’ve ever played back-to-back double overtime games. Fatigue, I actually feel alright. I think I’ve been sleeping great and been doing a good job with the trainers recovering. I think all the guys have. We feel good. Obviously the last two games were tough and could have gone either way. But it’s a three-game series now. We feel good, we feel confident and we’re ready to get started again tomorrow.
On having a rhythm to the schedule: I think we all kind of enjoyed the rest day today, and then we’ll get back on the ice in the morning for a little pre-game skate. It’s a good routine, and I think it’s perfect for our situation right now.
On Alex Nedeljkovic bouncing back from giving up a bad goal: He’s been great. That’s kind of been him all year. He’s super competitive, super confident. We know that he’s going to bounce back from something like that. Those kind of bounces happen in the playoffs. That’s going to happen, and the way he responded was very impressive.
On if Nedeljkovic is getting overshadowed by Juuse Saros’ numbers: I think both goalies are playing well. Obviously Ned’s made some big saves for us and their goalie has made some big saves for them. They’re both doing a good job. We’re going to have to keep getting pucks to the net, getting traffic to the net. For us defensemen, for sure, we can try to pick up a few more sticks and box out. So we know that we’re very confident Ned’s going to make that first save, and for us defensemen, he’s going to clean up the rebounds.
On if the defensemen can do anything to generate more chances against Saros: I think for us defensemen, I think we can try to get a more pucks through. Obviously they do a very good job of getting in the lane, not just their first guy, but it seems like their second layer does a good job too. So maybe trying to move a little bit and trying to get a few more pucks through would be huge.
On what he has to do to get some more chances: For me personally, I feel like I’ve got to drive to the net a little bit harder, find that little bit of space in front of the net and put the puck in the net. It’s easy to say that, but we’ve got to do that more as a team too. Get in front and maybe screen or something so we can score those goals.
On the power play: I don’t think we need to change something, to be honest. I don’t know how many shots we got on the power play, but it seems like a lot, to be honest. I feel like we don’t have that luck, that extra shot that we need. Hopefully we’re going to be successful tomorrow.
On the players’ input into rest days: I think it’s [Jordan Staal] and Roddy decide what we need the day after. They decide that. We’re not skating today, we just had meetings. So we’re probably going to skate tomorrow morning and get ready for tomorrow night’s game.
On Alex Nedeljkovic: It’s huge. He’s been playing a really good game. Last night, they were going 2-on-0 and I knew he was going to save that, because you’re confident in him. It’s good to see him playing that really good game.
On if he’s frustrated: There’s nothing to be frustrated about, to be honest. I’m confident. We’re going to go there the next two games and show the best game to them. It’s going to be a little bit of a different game. We’re going to be a little bit fired up, especially when we play in our building tomorrow night.
On if the team needs to play the same way: Yeah, we’ve got to play the same way. We’ve got to find a way to score goals and get lucky a little bit.