Head coach Rod Brind’Amour as well as Vincent Trocheck spoke with the media via Zoom Sunday morning on the series. Here’s what they had to say:
On keeping the penalty kill aggressive: [Tampa] is extremely skilled and you have to be careful, but that’s where you actually get worse. If you’re too cautious because they’ll eat you up. They’re going to get their chances regardless and we just have to limit the amount of them by not taking penalties. When we do, I think we can’t change too much of what we’re doing. We’ve had success doing it the way we’ve got to do it and knowing that there’s a good chance that they’ll still get their chances.
On if the players hear narratives or odds favorites: I don’t know, but I don’t think so to be honest with you. I can maybe use it a little here or there, but the players I don’t think care one way or the other. They know whether they’re favored or we’re favored, we have to go play and we expect to win. I really don’t think that becomes an issue at all.
On the power play during the Nashville series: We definitely did tweak it towards the end just with different kinds of groupings. But we were getting good looks all the way through. We had plenty of opportunities to score and we did near the end. Capitalize on a couple of the games. Do we want to tweak a couple of things now? Nah. We always make adjustments. Like tiny, tiny things but that’s all you really need to do. We have a good group, good talent and you’ve got to let them play. When you see something the penalty kill is doing, you make sure to let them know but they gotta go make their plays and I think we’ve done that all year. We’re not going to do a heck of a lot of adjustments right now.
On Nino Niederreiter’s status for tonight: He’s questionable for sure.
On the pressure to win Game 1: They’re all important, but you don’t want to get behind if you don’t have to. Obviously if we win the game, I’m probably going to say it’s not that important, but it is. They all count the same and we have to find a way to get four of them. And to get to four of them you have to start with the first one. We’d like to get off to a great start obviously and that’s what we’re going to try to do.
On what he learned from the Nashville series: Just that we have a lot of resilience on this team. Effort levels are there every night and every shift. I think we just kind of gained a little bit of confidence from a team like that. Our team came out and played really hard and even when we were down a goal or two, they didn’t show any quit.
On how Nikita Kucherov changes the script: I don’t think it changes much. Obviously he’s a really good player. Got a lot of offense, skill. He helps their power play. But when it comes to our approach, I don’t think it changes much.
On the fans at PNC Arena: It was incredible. The building was extremely loud. It was rocking and it got our hearts pumping a little bit faster. The adrenaline pumping. I think I expect the same with a couple more thousand people in the stands but even louder.
On tweaks to the power play: I think it got better as the series went on. We did make a few tweaks a few games into the series. I thought we had a lot of chances the last couple of games and as long as we continue to shoot pucks and have traffic at the front of the net, we should be able to create chances.
On the penalty kill: Our penalty kill has been phenomenal and that’s going to be a huge part of this series. Obviously they have a phenomenal power play so special teams is going to be huge and our penalty kill has been doing a great job so far.
On the fun of playoff hockey: It’s a grind, but it’s a ton of fun. The whole purpose we play hockey is to be playing in the playoffs. To be playing for a Stanley Cup. Everybody’s goal is the same. To win a Stanley Cup and everytime we get out there together… I mean this is our dream. I definitely would say that this is fun.