With little to play for Saturday night, the Hurricanes found themselves outplayed in a 3-1 loss against a Nashville Predators team that locked up a playoff spot and, coincidentally, a first-round matchup against the Hurricanes.
Steven Lorentz and Morgane Geekie, who connected for the team’s lone goal, along with head coach Rod Brind’Amour, spoke to the media after the win. Here’s a full breakdown of everything they had to say:
On Jaccob Slavin’s injury: Well we definitely took him out precautionary, but there was definitely something that he tweaked, so that’s a little bit alarming there for sure. It’s exactly what you wouldn’t want to happen in these kind of games. We’ll know more tomorrow, but I’m hopeful that it’s nothing too serious.
On Nashville being the more desperate team: We expected that, for sure. And I actually give my guys a ton of credit. I thought we had a lull there in the second after that one penalty that we took that was kind of iffy. They just got momentum and poured it to us there in the second. But I thought we had a good bounce back in the third and played pretty hard, considering everything that was going on. So I give our guys a lot of credit, and their team too, obviously. They did what they had to do.
On these games being playoff rehearsals now that the team is playing Nashville in round one: We know what they’re doing. They’ve made a little adjustment on a couple things we noticed. I don’t think there’s a lot of secrets. We’re hopeful we’ll get healthy and get a few guys back, which will be good. But I think the process is what it is. We’ve got to get there first, get through that next game and then crank it up.
On getting healthy: I hope so. The big concern would be Jaccob now. But the other guys, we’re on track, I think, to be back. So I guess we’ll wait and see.
On Jake Bean and Jani Hakanpaa playing more: I was proud of all the guys, the effort, considering what was on the line for them and for us. I thought we competed hard, and those guys had to play more minutes than they normally would. I thought they were fine.
On players like Morgan Geekie and Steven Lorentz building off-ice chemistry: I think it is in any team. This year’s been tough, because we just haven’t been able to foster any of those relationships away from the rink. But I think they have that previous history, that helps, for sure.
On the matchup with Nashville: Obviously it was a playoff atmosphere out there tonight. We knew what they were playing for, and we tried to match that. I think we have another gear, and I think we can take another step in the right direction and continue to get better against these guys.
On chemistry playing alongside Lorentz: I don’t know if it’s anything in particular. Obviously we play a similar game. [Max McCormick] made a great play off the start of that play, too. When it comes to me and Steven, we just kind of think the game in the same way, so it definitely helps in situations like that.
On the play that led to the goal: It was kind of a broken play. [McCormick] tried to take a shot, and his stick broke unfortunately, but it ended up right there and I just tried to get open. Steve kind of drew the defender and made a nice play through him, and I was just lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time and get it up over his pad.
On the intensity from the Predators and what to expect going forward: It was to be expected, like you said. They’re fighting for their playoff lives, and they showed that. They were playing very physical, all their lines, especially the fourth line. They were doing a good job creating energy. Their goal was to get the building alive, and they fed off that, and they did a good job doing that. We had some stretches where we took some of that energy and took it to them a little bit, and I think we got better too. Moving forward, there are some things we can take away from that game, definitely some positives, but there are things that we need to work on. If we clean those things up, I think we’ll be alright Monday.
On the chemistry playing alongside Geekie: I think that’s maybe where it stems from [having played together previously]. He and I are roommates, and I’m a firm believer that if you can get along off the ice, then I think some of that translates onto the ice as well. I think that’s partially why our team’s had so much success, too. I think we’re a tight knit group, and guys all get along off the ice, and it makes you want to be better on the ice. That little extra mile is what it takes sometimes. I know [Geekie’s] tendencies, and I know how he plays the game, and he thinks the game at such a high level and he can rip the puck. I know anytime I give him the puck, I just head to the net and good things will happen. Tonight it was a little bit like that, and we were fortunate enough to get one. Hopefully we can continue in the next game and going into the playoffs as well.
On matching up against a team with plenty to play for: It’s weird, because we obviously know that and we know they’re going to come with a push early on. And it’s not like we’re unprepared for anything like that. We just know we have to match their intensity and put them back on their heels a little bit. That’s what good teams do. They expect that, and we expect that out of that group. That’s what they did, and we would be doing the same thing if we were in the same position that they were. But at the same time, we’re still looking for that first overall place in the whole NHL, and that’s still a goal of ours going into the final game. We’re not just going to sit back and be satisfied with the accomplishments we’ve [achieved] so far, winning our division. We’re playing for two points on Monday. It doesn’t really matter where these guys are in the standings or where we are in the standings. Hockey’s hockey, and at the NHL level you’ve got to come ready to battle every single night.
On the good things to take from the game: We know what makes our team successful, and the coaches preach it all the time. It’s kind of a grind game, and what we call a “stress game.” That’s when we’re not turning pucks over, every single time the opponent gets a break or flip it out, we just turn the puck over, get it right back in their end and try to suffocate them. I think you could tell tonight, when we had our successful stretches, that was going on. I think they’d go D-to-D and we’d just have a guy waiting, or they’d try to go up the wall and we’d have a defenseman there ready to pounce. That’s our game, and we know that, and that’s how we’re going to have success in the playoffs. We’ve been doing it all year, maybe the past couple of weeks there’s been a little bit of a lull, but I think we know what we have to do moving forward, and address those things in practice and in video. And we’ll be ready to go not only Monday but for the playoffs.