The Hurricanes will kick off their last back-to-back of the season against the Chicago Blackhawks tonight as they look to finish strong in their final five games and lock up first place in the Central Division.
Rod Brind’Amour and Vincent Trocheck spoke to the media Monday morning, here’s a full breakdown of everything they had to say:
On possible changes to the lineup and a starter in net: We’re about to go on the ice here shortly, some of the guys, and we’ll have a better feel for who may or may not play. But hopefully we’re looking for Jesper Fast to get in. I don’t know that he will. That would be the only change, and [Alex Nedeljkovic] is going to play again tonight. Other than that, there may or may not be any changes.
On trying to find one goalie for the playoffs: I don’t know. I think we’ve got to get [Petr Mrazek] going here at some point to know if he’s even in the mix. We’ve got to get him some games. I haven’t seen the playoff schedule, I’m sure it’s going to be condensed. So who knows. It’s worked pretty well, giving these guys, I think, that little break mentally, more than anything. So I don’t know. We’ll get to that when the time comes. Right now we’ve just got to figure out how to win tonight. That’s all we’re really worrying about.
On youth hockey in the area: It’s been incredible, really, to see it. My older son went through it, just kind of hitting it, and we had some great teams in their level. But now, it’s exploded. Really, it’s a testament to the Hurricanes, I think, creating some excitement for parents that want to get their kids involved. And then kids enjoying it. And then we’ve got facilities now, which is huge, areas to go play. I see it now with my youngest son, so I’m still involved with it. The coaching is great. We’ve got a lot of great coaches in the area. It’s not just the Hurricanes people that hung around. There’s a lot of hockey people in this area, and I think the success we’ve had, especially lately and over the years, has certainly helped, and I hope we’ll continue to push the youth hockey.
On Riley Stillman and the pride of seeing a kid who grew up around the team playing in the NHL: For sure. Riley used to come out here and skate after practices, I remember, as a little kid. It’s a great hockey family. Obviously me and [Cory Stillman] are great friends. So I’m happy for him. Hopefully he doesn’t have a good few games, but we’re really happy for him. There’s going to be more. There’s going to be more kids come through here that have roots from Raleigh and North Carolina, and that’s special.
On how tough the condensed schedule has been: It’s crazy. The only saving grace to me is everyone’s doing it. There’s no advantage or disadvantage. It is too much, there’s no way around it. We’re happy to do it, the alternative was worse in not playing. We’ve just got to make do with it. Now there’s a finish line here, but there’s a lot at stake for us, so we’ve still got to stay focused and try to finish strong.
On a possible condensed schedule for the playoffs and if there’s concern about getting out of rhythm: I think they probably should just keep it the same. We’ve been used to it all year, and there’s no need to drag it on. There’s less travel this year, so I think that’s been a real bonus. You can condense it because you’re in one city. It’s not like you’ve got to travel, so there’s no need to stretch things out too much. I think mentally and physically it just takes a toll on everybody. That’s more what I’m talking about. It’s the same for everybody. So there is no advantage one way or another. I don’t know what they’ll do, but I have no problem with it being condensed in the playoffs.
On the dangers of trying to ‘be careful’ down the stretch: I don’t think anybody on this team’s thinking be careful going into a hockey game. There’s a lot on the line. We’re trying to win every game going down the stretch here. Nobody wants to create bad habits going into the playoffs. ‘Being careful’ is definitely creating a bad habit. Everybody’s going to be coming to play just like they would the rest of the regular season.
On how important it is to do things right down the stretch: It’s even more important now than it is in the beginning of the season. You’re getting ready to go into the playoffs in a week here. So fine tuning those little details is something you need to work on here instead of getting away from that or just being casual with it. There’s got to be a little bit extra concentration on those things.
On if Rod Brind’Amour should be up for the Jack Adams: I think he should win it. Obviously I have a little bit of bias. He’s a very, very big part of our success here. I think it would be a completely different story with someone else.