The Carolina Hurricanes will look to get on the board in game three of their second-round series with the Tampa Bay Lightning Thursday night. It looks like they’ll do that with at least a couple lineup changes, with Vincent Trocheck unlikely to play and Petr Mrazek replacing Alex Nedeljkovic in net.
Rod Brind’Amour, Brock McGinn and Jaccob Slavin spoke to the media via Zoom Thursday morning, here’s a full breakdown of everything they had to say:
On the decision to go with Petr Mrazek in net: I think Petr has obviously been ready for a while and we’ll give him a shot tonight. I think [Nedeljkovic]’s been great. That’s not really the issue. He’s played a lot of games. We’re going to need to have everyone as fresh as possible to get a victory and we’ll change it up a little bit.
On Vincent Trocheck: He’s doubtful. He may try it tonight in warmups, but we’ll see. I’m not hopeful, but he’s definitely here.
On if Trocheck’s prognosis is better than the team thought: We got it checked out. Again, all I can tell you is he’s going to try and we’ll just see.
On his speech at the end of the morning skate: I don’t know if it was that impassioned, I was actually talking about something a little different. But we’ve got to win a game. It’s as boring as ever, to say, but that’s just what it is. We’ve got to focus on trying to put our best foot forward, trying to win one game and we’ll see where it goes from there. But it really comes down to that simple.
On Alex Nedeljkovic being a finalist for the Calder Trophy: I think it’s great. I think it’s deserved. He had a great year for us, no question about it. I’m happy for him to get recognized. I think there’s a couple other guys on our team that I’d like to see get recognized for their work that they did for us this year as well. But I think it’s well deserved.
On the goalie change: I think it was more the freshness. [Nedeljkovic]’s played a lot. I think we’re changing a little something but I think it’s just more giving him a mental break. It’s a lot of work load on him. And like I said, Petr’s more than capable, and he’s been waiting, so we’ll get him his opportunity.
On frustration not being able to score: The playoffs are always harder to score. That’s just it. As you move along after the first round, now you’re playing the best team, it happens to be in the second round. It’s going to be heard. You’ve got to keep trying to get there, they’ve got great players that are going to keep you out of there, and when you do get an opportunity, they’ve got a great goalie. You can go back to 20 years of soundbites this time of year, everyone says the same thing. You’ve got to get there, you’ve got to get to the greasy areas. At the end of the day, you’ve got to get pucks there. They’re saying the same things too. Everybody’s trying to do it. There’s the game. We’ve got to do it better than they do if we want to move on.
On missed chances when there was an open net: Those aren’t the ones that they show in the highlights after. They show how they want to tell the story, but the game is done. The two games are done, and we have to focus on this first period and then go from there. We know we’re playing a great team. There’s no margin for error here, so we have to do everything right. And then that gives us just a chance to win.
On needing leadership from veterans: Whether it’s a regular season game where you’ve maybe lost a couple in a row, you’re always looking to your top guys, which generally are your veteran players, to lead by example in the room and show how it’s done. We’re fortunate we have a lot of good players in there that just do it right, so it’s not really an issue for us. But we’re at the time of the year where your best players have to rise up, and there’s just no way around it.
On the message: We don’t need to change much. We’ve been playing pretty good hockey. There’s a few areas that we need to clean up, but we’ve been in each game. We’ve just got to keep throwing pucks at the net, keep challenging the goalie and hopefully they’ll start going in. We’re playing hard, guys are working hard and so it’s not a lack of effort. We’ve got to keep competing.
On Alex Nedeljkovic being a Calder finalist: So happy. We wouldn’t be where we are right without him. From that standpoint, obviously we’re thrilled for him. He’s earned it. He’s grinded in the AHL for a while and he got his chance this year for us. He took full advanage. So we’re thrilled for him, and just as a person it’s awesome to see him have the success that he’s had and be labelled as a finalist, but that is awesome. Really cool.
On Petr Mrazek in net and if it changes the approach: It shouldn’t. We’ve got three capable goaltenders and three goalies who we all trust. It doesn’t change our mindset going into the game. Obviously we’ve all talked about the puck handling that [Nedeljkovic] brings. As defensemen, maybe we just need to make sure we’re getting back for Petr a little bit quicker. But it doesn’t change the confidence that we have going into this game and what we have to do as a group of 18 skaters in front of the net. We’ve got to compete.
On not having Nino Niederreiter and Vincent Trocheck: Their presence is definitely missed, but it shouldn’t change what we do, shouldn’t change the game plan that we play and what makes us successful as a team. We’ve got guys coming into the lineup that are also able to put the puck in the back of the net. So they’ll be missed, but we also have guys that will step up. Collectively as a group, we’ve all just got to shoot the puck more and we’ve got goal scorers in the lineup who will break through and we’ll be fine.
On looking for more opportunities from the blue line: I think you do whatever you can, but not at the sacrifice of your defensive game and making sure that you’re still playing the right way and you’re in the right positions. But we’ve got an active D corps, everyone likes to try to contribute offensively. So from the back end, we need to do a better job about getting shots through to the net and making sure we’re in the right spots to give our forwards outlets inside the zone and get pucks to the net so they can have better chances of getting some chaos goals and getting traffic to the net.
On Victor Hedman: Obviously he’s one of the best in the league for a reason. He’s smart, he’s athletic. He moves really well out there. But then with his big body, he just covers that much more ice, and his offensive capabilities are one of the best in the league. His defensive side is really solid as well. You just have an all-around really good defenseman and one of the best. It’s fun to compete against that every night. That doesn’t mean it’s easy, but it’s fun to compete against that.
On making any changes: Our game as it is is pretty simple home or away. We’re a team that likes to grind. We’ve got to establish that tonight. We’ve got to establish the grind game and just let our forwards go to work, making sure we’re managing the puck well and just outworking them tonight. Outworking them in every zone and trying to do whatever we can to break through the goalie.
On Alex Nedeljkovic being a Calder Trophy finalist: It’s awesome. I think he’s been very good for us this year. He’s put in the work, he tries so hard every night. You know what you’re going to get out of Ned every time. So I think kudos to him, he’s done a great job this year and hopefully he can continue to do so.
On the backs against the wall mentality: I think it’s definitely a big game. I don’t think we want to go out there and change too much. I think we just to go out and play our game. I think if we go out there, be physical and get to the net, I think we’ll get the outcome that we want. I just have to go out there, not veer away from our style and our game.
On Petr Mrazek in net: Our mindset doesn’t change. All three of them have been very good for us. Whoever’s in net, I think we just go out there, play our style, support them and not give up those opportunities where they get into bad situations, but they’re the back bone to our team and they have been all year. So I think we’ve just got to go out there and play.
On the message after the skate: I think like I said before, we just have to go out there and continue to play our game. I think we don’t want to start doing things that are going to hinder our game here. I think we’re a north-south team and we want to get pucks deep. I think if we do that, it’s going to [give us a chance].