The Canes will look to even their second round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning at a game apiece tonight after a solid effort in a game one loss.
Brett Pesce, Cedric Paquette and Rod Brind’Amour spoke to the media about game two after Tuesday’s morning skate, here’s a full breakdown of everything they had to say:
On making it tougher on Tampa Bay: It always comes down t the puck battles, playing in their end more than you’re playing in your end. I think that’s where we’ve got to make it tougher, harder on all their guys. Take away more time and space, it’s all the generic things you talk about, but that’s how you win hockey games.
On neutral zone turnovers: It wasn’t that we had a bunch of them, but again, the margins are tight. You make mistakes in that area where you should play in their end and you’re playing in your end, that’s just upping their chances and decreasing yours. Both teams are trying to create those. The team that generally wins that area, I think, their chances go way up.
On Nikita Kucherov: He’s elite, so you think of all the elite players that have played over the years. I think what separates those guys is the skillset is obvious. They know where the puck’s going before they get it. They know when it’s on their stick, they know they’ve got a guy over here and they’re just baiting you here. I think it’s just stuff that you can’t teach that. It’s just special, special talents. Few guys have them, the great ones all do.
On Alex Nedeljkovic: I think he’s young but he’s not that young. He’s old in his ways and he’s a little bit old school. I think he trusts himself and he should. Like I said the other night, we all have things that don’t go our way and little mistakes here and there, what always defines who you are is how you respond to that stuff. So he’ll bounce back, for sure.
On who needs to step up in Nino Niederreiter’s absence: I don’t need anybody to step up more than they have to do what they do. Do your job. Do what you’re supposed to do. We don’t have a guy coming in that has the potential to score 20 or whatever. That’s not necessarily that skill set. But one guy shouldn’t affect our group that much. We’ve got other guys to step up, fill those roles and take on a little more responsibility here and there, but at the end of the day it’s just next man up and you’ve got to do your job.
On getting in on the forecheck and making the defensemen think before they go get the puck: Finishing checks, as long as they’re legal, that’s part of the game. Every team tries to do that. Of course you don’t want to ever see anybody go down. That’s the last thing that we talk about or even think about. It’s ‘Go do your job. Your job’s to go eliminate the man from the puck. That’s your job.’ Everybody’s doing that. That’s just playoffs. That’s how it works.
On Teuvo Teravainen: He’s been good. Obviously you’d like to see that line get a little more on the score board, but if you just watch the overall play, he’s pretty solid defensively and created some opportunities. We’ve got to get a few more by the goalie and it kind of changes the outlook on everybody. But I think he’s been really good.
On line matching: I think most teams match the D more than the forward group. You’re trying to just get your forwards in flow. Occasionally you’ll do some different things on O-zone faceoffs, different things maybe when their fourth line comes out, but really I think you’re always just trying to get your top D pair against the other team’s best players as much as you can.
On facing adversity: It’s obviously a big deal, game one, the fact that we dropped that one. I personally thought we played good enough to win that game. But at the same time, there’s a lot of series left and we know that. We’ve faced adversity all season long. This is nothing new for us and we’ll get it done tonight.
On killing penalties against the Lightning: Obviously on those two flanks with [Nikita Kucherov] and [Steven Stamkos], you’ve got to know where your one-timers are on the ice and kind of anticipate where the puck’s going before it gets to one of those guys whether they shoot or pass. Obviously I look for [Brayden Point] in the middle. But I think just being on your toes at all times and you can’t really sleep out there. You can’t even take a half second, or else they’re going to make the right play and it’s going to be a grade-A or in the net, so you’ve just got to be dialed in at all times.
On if there are things the Canes want to tweak going into this game: I think the one biggest thing is our turnovers in the neutral zone. [Brind’Amour] made a comment, I think we had 11 vs. their three. So I feel like every time we got the puck in their end, we were rumbling around. I think that’s our best asset, our forwards getting in on the forecheck and getting on their D. So I think we could do a little better job of that.
On if the defensemen specifically look forward to going against Victor Hedman: Not really. Obviously he’s a great player and you’re competitive and you know how good he is. But I feel like there’s guys like that on every team. Obviously he’s a special player. But not really.
On staying fresh for a game: You just kind of take it a shift at a time. When you get up to 28, 29, 30 minutes, you obviously get a little gassed. But 21-25, it’s manageable. This is what you train for in the summer and all year to play minutes like this if you get called upon. So it’s not too bad.
On playing against Tampa Bay: It’s not something I envisioned doing when I first got traded, but I’m happy to be back in the playoffs and to compete for the cup again. It doesn’t matter where I play, I want to win the cup. I want to do it with this team this year.
On playing against Andrei Vasilevskiy: That’s a good question. I think he doesn’t get frustrated a lot. Obviously, like any goalie, traffic in front, lots of shots, lots of backdoor plays. But obviously he’s the best goalie for a reason and we need to make him uncomfortable.
On playing against Victor Hedman: I think like [Jon Cooper] said a couple times the last couple years, when [Hedman]’s goes, the team goes. I think that’s true. When he’s on his game, nothing is sweating him. He’s playing so good, and the team relies on him a lot. He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes, so I think the guys look up for that and he’s just a big part of the team.
On what his line needs to do: Put more pucks deep and go in on the forecheck. Spend time in their zone, below the dots, below the circles, make them work. Get them frustrated a little bit and obviously play physical. I think we need to play physical on them, they don’t like it. They get frustrated a little bit. So I think if we do that, we’ll be successful.