The Hurricanes will look to re-claim the lead in their first round series against the Nashville Predators with game five Tuesday night.
Rod Brind’Amour, Nino Niederreiter and Jani Hakanpaa spoke to the media following Tuesday’s morning skate, here’s a full breakdown of everything they had to say.
On Jaccob Slavin being at the morning skate: It’s a good sign. We’re hopeful. He’s got to try warmup, really push it and then see where we’re at.
On if the attention has shifted to this game: You have to, regardless of the other night. That’s long gone in our eyes and has to be. The focus is on that first shift and the next shift. You just have to stay dialed in.
On if this game is a must win: We obviously want to win it. I think we’re going to do everything we can. It’s not a must win because if we don’t win we’ve got another game, but we approach every game like a must win. Regular season, everything. It’s always that you’ve got to win the game. So I don’t expect my guys to do anything different, because that’s how they always play.
On Jaccob Slavin’s absence and the guys who stepped up while he was out: Obviously you’re not replacing that guy no matter who we would have had go in, but the fact that we were throwing rookies in there, or young guys that haven’t really had any playoff experience, and they hung in there, you’ve got to give them credit. I do. They did a great job for us. They gave us a chance to win both games, which I was like ‘Wow, this is going to be a tough task.’ So give them a lot of credit. [Jake Bean], [Max Lajoie] coming in, this is a big moment for them.
On if the increased work load from the regular season is a challenge for Alex Nedeljkovic or a benefit without a lot of wear and tear: That’s what we’re hoping it is, the second part. You totally gauge it on where he feels for me. If he feels 100%, there’s no reason to take him out. He didn’t lose the job, he didn’t play poorly. If I have a Jordan Staal who plays even an iffy game, am I taking him out because I’m worried he’s overworked? We get to this point, that just really comes out of the equation. If he’s a little wore out or a little tired, then you have to think about it. But he wasn’t, and he played great, so there’s really no reason to take him out.
On beating Juuse Saros: I feel like we’ve got to be hard on him. I feel like he sees a lot of pucks. I feel like we’ve got to give the D some credit. They box out very well, and it’s on our forwards to get there.
On what the team learned from the two losses in Nashville: I think the biggest thing for us is just to keep playing our game. We always found a way to come back into the game, it doesn’t matter if we were down or up. Obviously if we were up, we’ve got to find a way to close it. But at the same time, I think we did a lot of good things. There were a couple tough bounces here and there, but the biggest thing for us is just to keep playing hard, go into the O-zone, work down low and crash more to the net.
On if it’s harder to trust the process when the puck isn’t going in: Obviously it’s a little bit tougher, but at the same time, we know we’ve been doing it all season. I feel like it always found a way to come our way. I feel like we’ve got to just trust the process, get pucks to the net and the bounces are going to come.
On a difference between being at home and on the road: They have a good fanbase and we have a great fanbase. At the end of the day, they’re two great and loud buildings. You always feed off the crowd, and we cannot wait to have them all here again.
On having a normal playoff atmosphere again after the bubble last year: Obviously when you’re used to something, it’s always something great, and then when you don’t have it, you’re like, ‘Wow’ at how quiet it is. Now you have the fans back, and you just realize how amazing they are, how loud and how much energy you feed off the crowd. It’s definitely something we missed.
On Jaccob Slavin: It’s a big thing if we get him back tonight. He’s an absolute work horse back there. He leads by example out there, so it’s going to be a big thing for us if we can get him back.
On being able to move on from the last loss: It’s always harder when you go to overtime, it’s always a little heartbreaking. But the name of the game is to take the good things out of it, learn from the mistakes, go forward and be better in the next one. So I think that’s been our mindset, and now we’re just going to go out there and prove that we’ve been doing it.
On being back at home: It’s going to be big for us to get the home crowd going right off the bat. I think they’re going to be even louder than they were for the two first games. So that’s going to give us that extra boost, and I think everybody’s going to be super fired up for tonight.
On what he’s learned from his first playoff games: The intensity is probably the first one that comes to mind. Everything ramps us. And the atmosphere here and away has been unreal. Just the level of compete, I guess those are the biggest things that come to mind.