The Hurricanes kept rolling at home Monday night, extending their point streak to 11 games with a 5-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks thanks to a hat trick from Sebastian Aho, two assists from Martin Necas and goal from Vincent Trocheck.
Aho, Brind’Amour, Trocheck and Necas spoke to the media after the win, here’s a full breakdown of everything they had to say.
On coaching Sebastian Aho: He’s very competitive. I love that about him. And I think his overall game has gotten better. Just watching him grow as a player has been, really, a pleasure.
On Aho’s consistency: [In reaction to a stat that Aho has only had two stretches this season where he’s gone two games or more without a point] That’s a great stat there. That’s what we’re about. We need that consistency. We talk about it all the time, and the competitive consistency is the game right now. If you can have that right now, in any player, you’re going to be successful. He’s definitely doing that.
On the SAT line generating instant chemistry: You put three talented, hard-working players together, they should be good. These guys are elite, all three of them, so you put that together and it should be a good line. And they add a little different element, each one of them, to how they play. Obviously that helps too. It should be a good line for us, and it obviously has been.
On the top six forwards: [Teuvo Teravainen] is a huge part of it. Huge skill there, talent on the power play, penalty kill, he does everything. You take that out of your lineup, you’re not going to replace it. So obviously having him in there allows us a lot of flexibility. Those two lines, spread it around, it gives us a lot of options.
On Necas’s self-criticism: Yeah, 100%. I think he had a good word for it. You have to be able to self-evaluate your game. You don’t need me always telling you, or the coaches telling you how to play. You should know. You come off, the game’s over, you look in the mirror and you know. That’s good on him, he’ll bounce back, and we need him obviously going down the stretch and in the playoffs.
On Nedeljkovic potentially being a number-one: I don’t know if I’d say that. I think we have three guys, like I’ve said all year. He’s definitely proven to be in the mix. I have all the faith in the world in him. Do we say he’s our number one? I’ve got all three guys in that position. Obviously only one’s going to get to play here at some point, but he’s definitely in the mix.
On not letting up despite clinching a playoff spot: Totally. That’s the whole name of the game right now. Human nature would be easy to let off the gas. We push so hard, got to get in the playoffs, then you’re in and we have to keep getting better. You get to the playoffs, you can’t have bad habits, you can’t have things creep into your game. I give those guys a lot of credit. These last three games, it hasn’t been picture perfect, but we certainly haven’t come off the gas at all. That’s on those guys, doing a great job.
On playing the way it should look: It certainly had lots of parts that looked good, like you mentioned. We had our moments where it wasn’t right, and the funny thing was it ended up in our net. It’s a good lesson: we have to do it right all the time, because you just never know. Especially a team like Chicago, with the talent they have, they can make you pay. But yeah, it’s all about sharpening up. We have got to stay razor sharp and find a way to keep getting better. That’s what it is.
On the play in the first period: Yeah, we were definitely clicking early. I think it was just a matter of coming out ready and making sure those first ten minutes were ours, and getting a lead early.
On Alex Nedeljkovic as a person: He’s sort of quiet at first, but he’s kind of got that dry sense of humor. Just a good kid.
On getting closer to the team’s goal and back to normal: It’s so much more exciting whenever you have a good amount of fans. Obviously, the hats thrown on the ice, stuff like that, just the cheers. It just brings a little bit more excitement to the team.
On having his line with Teuvo Teravainen and Andrei Svechnikov back together: It feels good. It’s a great line to play with. Just two very high-end players on my wings, and they make my job a lot easier.
On his first goal and getting his stick knocked out of his hands before it: I actually was late on the play on the back side because I lost my stick for a second. As soon as I looked up, I saw Svech coming 100 miles per hour towards me, and I just adjusted my route and went with him. Obviously it was an awesome play by him. He puts his shoulder down, beats his guy one on one and makes an awesome pass to me back door. So it’s just a great play by him.
On if the team wishes it could jump right into the playoffs: I think while we’ve had success this year, we’ve been able to stay in the moment and that’s been the whole message here lately, just take it one day at a time and one game at a time. We have to do it right every day and try to build our confidence for the playoffs.
On if he’s playing his best hockey right now: I don’t know. It’s funny. You always have that feeling that you can be better. There’s so many situations on the ice. You think ‘Could do that better or this better.’ That’s the kind of mindset I have that I try to make every shift matter. Just to make the right plays on the ice. Obviously my linemates helped me a lot today and in past games.
On if the mindset of always thinking he can be better comes from Rod Brind’Amour: Yeah, you could say that. That’s true.
On his line with Teravainen and Svechnikov: I’ve played with Turbo pretty much my whole NHL career. It’s always been pretty easy to play with him. Obviously Andrei’s a great player, great skater, makes plays. So they’re just that good of players. It’s fun to play with them. I just try to give them the puck and get open. So I think we have pretty good chemistry, but like I said, I think we all think we can be even better and we try and build it for the playoffs.
On getting a hat trick: It’s pretty nice, but we’re here for the bigger goal.
On the first period: I think we just tried to go into this game and play our game, be strong on pucks, play in the offensive zone. If there’s a play, make it, but try to take it to the net as well. So that was a good start.
On snapping his 11-game goal drought: I mean I sucked for the last couple games, I’ve got to say that. So it’s good to get myself going again. I felt way better today. I tried to get involved, make some plays. On the goal, [Nino Niederreiter] screened the goalie good, and we had a few more chances, so let’s try to keep it going.
On getting the whole top six going: It’s always important. It’s only going to be my second playoffs, but I feel like in the playoffs you need to get all four lines going. I think we do. We have our last four games, and we want to go win every game. It’s been pretty good so far, but right now is the time of year where we’ve got to be dialed in and get ready for the playoffs.
Martin Necas on Sebastian Aho: He’s a complete player. He can skate. He can make plays. He’s got a good shot. So especially this year, I feel like he plays so much better in the defensive zone. He’s there in all situations, and what can I say? You guys see it on the ice. He’s a great player and he’s really important for us.
On the grind of the condensed schedule: This season is intense. You don’t have time to rest. If you get a day off, you’ve got to enjoy it. You’ve got to just try to not think about hockey all the time. Physically, it’s pretty hard, but mentally it’s even harder I would say. You have months when you’re producing, then you have some weeks when you’re not producing. That’s the point where you’ve got to stay mentally fresh, don’t think about it and go play good every game.