This time, their season is on the line.
We have a win-or-stay-home game five tonight for the Canes, who trail their best-of-seven series with the Bolts 3-1. A win will force this Eastern Conference semi-Final series to a sixth game back in Tampa. A loss will send the Lightning to the conference final.
Head coach Rod Brind’Amour, Jordan Martinook, and Brady Skjei spoke to the media via Zoom Tuesday morning. Here’s what they had to say.
On the status of their injured players and who will start game five: We got two guys who are taking warmups and we hope they’ll play - that’s (Niederreiter and Trocheck). And then, (Foegele) is the same. He’s 50/50. Everyone will go out for warmups and we’ll see where we stack out. I think I’ll let you guys marinate on the goalie. Add a little excitement to the day.
On how they’ve approached their decision on the game-five starter: It can go either way, to be honest with you. (Paul Schonfelder), our goalie coach, had a lot of influence on that. He does every time, so that’s basically how we decide.
On the importance of special teams and staying out of the penalty box: We said that coming in, that would be the difference. If we can stay out of the box, we have a chance. I believe that. If we take five, six, seven penalties, it’s going to be tough because there’s just too much there. We’ll see how the game gets called, and hopefully, we’re out of the box. I don’t know what else to say on that.
On how young guys like Svechnikov and Necas need to balance being aggressive with not doing too much: You don’t have to tell them to be aggressive. We’re definitely not worrying about that. We have to play the way we have to play. We have to play fearless, and there’s the element of playing on the edge and we have to be there, that’s just part of it. We have to make plays. I think Svechnikov has been good on that in this series. I think he’s been much better. You have to go play. You can’t be thinking about ‘ oh if I make this play and it doesn’t work out...’ No, we have to go after it.
On if the team is confident that they can win three straight games and advance: What do you think I would say on that question? We can’t win three right now. We’re trying to win one game, then we’ll see if we can get to tomorrow, which I believe we can. I have all the faith in the world in this group. We play too hard to not have a chance every night, so I feel really good about that. Do we need a break or two? Sure, just like most teams do to win a game. Something needs to go their way, and we have to work for that. That’s why I feel good about it - because I know we will.
On if he expects his team to put everything on the line tonight with their backs against the wall: I sure hope so. Obviously, we’ve dug ourselves a hole and it’s time to dig out of it. You just gotta treat every shift like it’s the most important shift and do everything you can to keep moving forward here.
On how they want to replicate some of the good things they did on the road on home ice: I think it’s different because you have a lot of change you’re doing and you're doing some different things. Obviously, we’re gonna have the crowd jacked up and they’ll be juicing us up. I don’t think it’s trying to play a road game, we just need to go out and play our best game. What we do all year to make us successful, we need to bring that 110% and that’ll give us the best chance to win.
On potentially getting Niederreiter back: He’s a goal-scorer. He goes to the net, gets around there. He can put pucks in the net, so obviously you like having guys who can score out there. He’s a bigger body. Nino’s a big part of our team, so whenever you can get a big part back, you’re going to be happy about it, so I think he’ll be pumped and ready to go if he’s in there. We’d be happy to have him back.
On how they need to stay out of the penalty box and let their 5-on-5 game dictate things: We’ve been good 5-on-5. We’ve had a lot of chances. We've had zone time. the differences, obviously, aren’t crazy. They’ve got, I don’t know the exact number of power-play goals, but it’s not secret that we need to stay out of the box and be more disciplined. We can tweak a couple of things on the penalty kill, but our 5-on-5 game has been pretty solid. We just need to keep up with that and tweak a couple of things here and there and I think we’ll be fine.
On the mood in the locker room entering tonight’s game: Yeah, we feel good. Obviously, we’re in a bit of a hole right now in the series, down 3-1. As a team, we feel good. We’ve been bouncing back all year. We’ve always seemed to answer the bell, and we need to. We had a good day yesterday, a good practice. The guys were up and feeling good. I think we’re gonna have a ton of emotion and play our best game tonight.
On limiting Tampa’s power-play chances and keeping the game at 5-on-5: I think that we’ve been very solid 5-on-5. Obviously, coming into the series, we knew that their power play was rolling and that was a big key for us - staying out of the box. We believe that if we can stay out of the box and keep it 5-on-5 that we can play our game and play well. It’s such a small thing in these playoffs, especially as teams it’s huge. If you can limit their amount of time on the powerplay, I definitely think it plays into our hands.
On if there’s something in particular, outside of the penalties, that the Hurricanes need to fix before game five: I don’t know. We didn’t play that bad, obviously, the penalties were the biggest things. 5-on-5, I thought we were pretty good. We scored four goals, which is huge. I think if we play the way we know how to play, the way we've played all year, I think we’ll be fine. I think penalties were the biggest thing in that game.