The Hurricanes opened their 2021 preseason slate with a 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning Tuesday night. Jesperi Kotkaniemi tallied a goal and an assist, and Jack Drury and Teuvo Teravainen also scored.
Kotkaniemi, Drury and Rod Brind’Amour all spoke to the media after the win, here’s a full breakdown of everything they had to say:
On Jameison Rees’ performance: Of course you love it. That’s the way he has to play. We want all our guys to play that way, but a young kid trying to make his mark, if you want to stand out, that’s how you have to do it. He played hard, made some plays, made some mistakes, but all of it was from being aggressive, so I thought he was good.
On Frederik Andersen: I thought he looked pretty good. Was the plan to have him play all 60? Yeah, I think going into this you think to try to give him two starts, and I thought he was really good. We weren’t great defensively tonight. We certainly gave up more than we should have, but that’s to be expected this time of year. He was solid.
On if it’s good to see Kotkaniemi get a goal and settle in: Yeah, I guess so. It was a nice goal. It was great. I might have been able to score that one. But I think it’s good for him just to feel like part of the group, contribute offensively, that’s always good when you’re a new player to a team, especially under these circumstances. I’m sure he’s happy.
On if there was anything that stood out to him: I don’t know. It’s a preseason game, I’m kind of happy it’s over. Hopefully nobody got hurt. What I like now is that there’s a lot of good things we did in that game that we can see, and then there’s a lot of not good things. That’s exactly what we want is to have a great teaching thing. Show how we’re doing it right, how we’re not doing it. It makes it easy as a coach to go in and work on that stuff, so that’s the good part about having the games, plus some guys get the rust off. The first period was really fast. I was shocked at how they moved, like this is a real game as far as the pace. So that’s good.
On what Jack Drury has to do to make this team: Any of the guys that want to make the team have to make their mark. They’ve got to really, I don’t want to say do more than the other guys, but they do. They’ve got to stand out. They can’t just be average, so Rees, Drury, all the young guys, they’ve got to make something happen. They’re doing that. So at the end of the day, when we’re all done here in a few games, they’ve got to make it tough. You’ve got to make it tough on us to make the right decision, so that’s what they’re doing right now.
On what Jesperi Kotkaniemi can do on the power play: I think that’s where he may make the most contributions in a way. He’s a very intelligent hockey player. You can see it in the way he thinks the game and his skillset. He can shoot. He’s got a great shot. So those are all power-play type skillsets. You can’t have enough of that, that’s for sure.
On Tim Gleason behind the bench: We’re 1-0 with him right, so I guess pretty good. He was great. He’s going to be great at it, I think, because he wants to be. We’re happy to have him on staff.
On one thing he’d like to see cleaned up: There were a couple chances we gave up where we had the puck in our end and it didn’t get out when it was on our stick. It’s an old cliché, but it has to get out, because if it leads to something it leads to something. It leads to a guy blocking a shot when we shouldn’t have to, there’s a bunch of things. So we’ve got to clean that up. I thought we didn’t play as fast. The first period was good, we were going and then we started getting too cute. That kind of stuff is the kind of stuff we have to clean up.
On getting game action: It was a lot of fun. Going out for warm-ups, it felt really cool. The music was blasting and having some fans in the crowd was really cool and I think we all just had a lot of fun today.
On chemistry with his linemates: Me and Rees have been here a few weeks with the prospect camp and [Noesen] slid in nicely. I think getting to play for a few weeks before this helped us out a bit today.
On his mindset and approach heading into training camp: Just trying to take it day-by-day and stick to my process and what I can control. I think it’s a stressful environment for everyone, but as a pro athlete that’s something you have to be able to handle and it’s a fun challenge. Just really trying to stay day-to-day. Getting a little bit better every day. That’s the message from Rod and everyone in the organization so just sticking to that.
On setting up a goal: It 100% takes a little bit of a load off your shoulders so you can loosen up a little out there. So that felt nice, but now we know that we have to get right back to work tomorrow and start getting ready for the rest of the week.
On the one thing he needs to work on the most to get to the NHL level: I think just quickness, those first three steps. You watch the top guys in the NHL and they all create so much space off of those first three steps. That’s something that I’ve been working on a lot. I was lucky to come a few weeks early and get to work with the strength coach, Billy [Burniston]. I think he’s helped me out a lot with that. I just want to keep improving that.
On the team’s domination on faceoffs: [Trocheck] and [Stepan] have been doing it for a long time, so I think for them they can roll right through it, but Rod has helped out on that a lot. Obviously he was successful at it and I think that’s something that all centers or anyone here that takes faceoffs is going to pride themselves on.
On what he was thinking as most of the potential roster spots were filling up during the offseason: I really try to avoid that. Like I said earlier, there’s a million things that can happen, but that’s all out of my control. There’s really no point in worrying about it. We’ve got a lot of great guys in the room and I think everybody just wants to put their best foot forward and keep getting better every day.
On if having a good first period helped ease any butterflies: Yeah. It always feels good to get a couple of goals. It brings the confidence up. Just played with some great guys today and I felt really good.
On playing with Teuvo Teravainen: It was fun. He’s a funny guy. Probably one of the most skilled Finnish guys I’ve ever seen. So it was a lot of fun.
On if he sees himself having an impact on the power play this season: I’ve always felt that I can be a good guy on the power play so it was nice to get a couple of goals.
On how it felt playing an actual game with his new teammates: It was a lot of fun out there. We have a lot of great guys in the room so it was a blast. The first game is always the first game. Ice is a little tough as it’s still summertime, but the ice will get better and we will get better.
On the adjustments to playing wing: For me, right now, there’s a lot of new things, so I’m trying to adjust to a little bit of everything. Like I said, it was the first game and hopefully there’s a lot more coming.