Rod Brind’Amour talks preparation for Eastern Conference Finals
Goalie Petr Mrazek and forward Micheal Ferland were on the ice Monday when the Carolina Hurricanes resumed practice after two days off. That was a good sign for the Canes.
Forward Jordan Martinook then left during practice, in some discomfort. That continues to be a concern.
Mrazek started the first nine games of the Stanley Cup playoffs but was forced out of Game 2 of the second-round series with the New York Islanders with a lower-body injury. Curtis McElhinney came in for Mrazek and was the winner in three straight games as the Hurricanes finished off the sweep.
Ferland has been out longer, aggravating an upper-body injury that has lingered throughout the season in Game 3 of the first-round series against the Washington Capitals. Both Mrazek and Ferland said they felt fine physically after Monday’s lengthy practice at PNC Arena.
The Canes will face the winner of the Boston Bruins-Columbus Blue Jackets second-round series in the Eastern Conference finals. The Bruins led 3-2 heading into Monday night’s game in Columbus.
Mrazek said the injury was frustrating but that by the morning after the game he was confident “it wasn’t anything bad.” By Monday’s practice, he said, “I don’t even think about it anymore.”
Mrazek praised McElhinney’s play, saying, “Mac was outstanding and I’m very happy he played like he did and we finished the series in four games.”
Ferland said last week that he hoped to be able to return Friday for Game 4 against the Islanders at PNC Arena but was not in the lineup.
“I’m feeling really good,” Ferland said Monday. “Good little break we had now and I feel good to go. Obviously the pace is going to be a lot higher after the games I’ve missed but I just want to get in, be physical and get in the game that way, be solid in the defensive zone, get pucks deep. Try to get the game speed back.”
Martinook has been slowed by a chronic lower-body injury that has had him in and out of the lineup in the playoffs. He was able to play the final two games of the Islanders series.
Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour said Monday that decisions on who would play Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, including the starting goalie, would be made “when we have to make decisions.”