The Carolina Hurricanes are back in Nashville Thursday night, this time with a chance to end the first-round series against the Predators.
The Canes hold a 3-2 advantage right now, but will have to reverse a trend of this series if they want to end it Thursday. In all five games so far the home team has won, with the Canes taking the 3-2 lead Tuesday night in PNC Arena thanks to two goals from Martin Necas and an overtime winner from captain Jordan Staal.
Following Thursday’s morning skate ahead of game six, head coach Rod Brind’Amour, forward Jesper Fast and forward Jordan Martinook
On Nashville scoring a couple fourth-line goals and on if winning that fourth-line battle will be key to winning: Well theirs is an effective line, and so is ours. I think everybody has to. Whoever you get matched up against has to win. That’s just part of it. It’s all how you look at it. Their fourth line got two, but one was a weird play and the other one we kind of gave it to them on a rush chance where we were going the other way. I don’t really get into looking at it that way. But you’re right in the sense that whoever your matchups are, you’ve got to win the battles. That’s it. That’s the game.
On the mood and message to the team: The mood is good. We’ve got a chance to do something special. What’s the message? Well, nothing changes. It’s not going to get handed to us. I can tell you that right now. We’re gonna have to go earn this win. Everyone always says it is the toughest win. Yeah, because the other team’s desperation level is as high as it can be. We’re gonna have to match that. The game doesn’t change. You don’t have to do anything special. You’ve got to go do your job.
On Justin Williams saying the key to winning a series was telling the other team it’s too hard for them, and on if that’s an Xs and Os thing or a mental thing where they break mentally: That’s what he’s referring to. The Xs and Os, at this time of the year, everybody is trying to do little adjustments. We see it. They know what we’re doing. We know what they’re doing. It’s a matter of sticking with it. That’s a mental grind. That’s the game. We’ll try a couple different things. I know they will. But at the end of the day it always seems to come down to that mental will that wins these long series.
On if he expects to have the same lineup as Tuesday: Yes, definitely. That’s what we’re hoping to do. We had that group out this morning and everything seemed fine, so hopefully that’s how it goes.
On the importance of scoring the first goal to maybe quiet the crowd: Well, it’s always important whether there’s a crowd or no crowd. You want to get it. But it’s weird, it hasn’t impacted the series all that much. That’s good. If we can’t get it, that doesn’t change anything. You’ve just got to keep going and try to win that next shift and keep chipping away. The crowd, yeah, the crowds are great. I don’t think it’s gonna matter if you score first or not. I think it’s going to be a loud building regardless. That’s exciting. That’s what it’s all about.
On getting it done Thursday and avoiding a game seven where anything can happen: Yean, of course. We’re not going to not try to win the game because there’s another one if we don’t. That’s crazy. It’s obviously going to be tough. They’ve got the advantage at home with the change. You figure out the matchups differently, and the crowd. That makes it a little harder, but the game itself doesn’t change. Like I said, you’ve got to go do your job.
On if Alex Nedeljkovic will be the starting goalie: Yup.
On what the Canes need to do to wrap up the series Thursday: We’ve just got to match their desperation. We know the fourth game is always the hardest to win. We’ve just got to match their desperation. We want to win tonight and finish this series off. That’s the focus.
On how much tougher the road matchups are: Of course I think Rod likes the matchup we’ve been having at home. Either way, we’ve just got to play our game. If we keep it simple and play our game, we’ll have a big chance to win tonight.
On how much of an impact the crowds have made on the series, both in Nashville and Raleigh: Big impact. It feels like it’s a different game out there with all the fans. Even when there’s a hit or a blocked shot, you can feel that experience rising. I’m very happy to have them back.
On how important it is to try and win the series in game six and not have to play a game seven where anything can happen: I think when you have the chance to close out a team, that’s exactly what you want to do. You don’t want to give them another chance. We obviously know they are going to be a desperate team, but we’re going to be just as desperate because we want to close it out. Like you said, game sevens anything can happen. Obviously our focus is tonight.
On if there’s a chance to break Nashville’s will early in game six: Yeah, I don’t know. I think obviously these last three games have been super tight. I think the whole series has been pretty tight. So, I don’t know if it’s testing anybody’s will. It’s just about sticking with what we’ve done to be successful to this point. Obviously we’ve had stretches in games where we’ve felt like we’ve kind of taken over and done really good things. I think we just need to focus on what that has been and just kind of use that for our game plan for the whole game and try not to get off it at all.
On the vibe and message of the team heading into game six: I think the vibe is to, and it’s so repetitive, but just go out and play our game. The mood is good. Everybody is feeling good and wanting to go out there and play our best game. If we go out there and play our best game, it gives us a good shot to win. Good mood, and just go out and do what we do.
On how they can make it too hard for Nashville to come back: When we’re rolling, when we’re playing all four lines and buzzing around and we can stay on top of guys and our forecheck is going, it’s definitely hard to play against us. That’s kind of our M.O., is how hard we pressure. I think that can definitely weigh on some teams. Nothing changes. Just the way we play is what we need to do to try and push them out. Nothing really needs to change. I don’t know if there’s a correct answer for you, but we just need to play the way we play and that gives us our best chance.
On how important scoring the first goal might be to try and take the fans out of the game a little bit: I feel like the last three games we’ve kind of got behind. Obviously you want to get the first goal, and we don’t want to give it up. If we can get the first one, that’s obviously ideal. We’ll be trying our best to get it, that’s for sure.
On Canes fans trying to raise money for season tickets for Emma, a young fan Martinook has formed a strong connection with: I think I got tagged in a tweet or something about that. For Emma to get recognition with just how special she is And then not just about Emma but about the Caniacs. For them to think about doing something like that, it just speaks volumes of our fan base. I’m getting a little emotional even thinking about it. That’s amazing. I’ll have to get a hold of whoever is doing that and put a little piece in for sure. That’s incredible. Thank you Caniacs. Obviously Emma has been there during the playoff games, and people are talking about her being a good luck charm. She’s awesome, and obviously her family is amazing for being able to bring her every night. Caniacs again, thank you so much for doing what you’re doing, and I’ll find out who is doing that and get together with them.
For context on the final question to Martinook:
Two years ago when Jordan Martinook (@Martyman17) met Emma, a 12-year-old @Canes fan with Down syndrome, the pair formed an instant connection.— NHL (@NHL) April 12, 2021
They were finally reunited last week.
( @Th_Izzo) pic.twitter.com/IGzjAKyLeq
Thanks for cheering loud Emma and thank you for the cards and the picture. You are the sweetest. And your parents are also amazing. Thanks guys— Jordan Martinook (@Martyman17) May 26, 2021