Doing the Canes shuffle: Why Rod Brind’Amour changed the ‘bad movie’ he was watching

·3 min read

Rod Brind’Amour has a touch of gray hair just above his forehead, and more than when he first became head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes.

Asked recently how he has changed as coach since 2018, Brind’Amour, with a hint of a smile, mentioned the wrinkles and the stress that comes with the job.

Told he was the Jack Adams Award winner last season as NHL coach of the year, Brind’Amour said, “I’d forgotten about that. That was nice, actually.”

A big part of Brind’Amour’s job as coach is much the same as when he played — figuring out, in games and on the fly, what’s working and what’s not and making the right decisions on both. Good coaches usually make good decisions.

“Sometimes, you can’t keep watching the same bad movie,” Brind’Amour said Monday.

Case in point: the Canes’ 3-2 road win Saturday over the Nashville Predators.

The Canes didn’t generate much offense in the second period, which ended with the teams tied 1-1. Other than allowing a Jesper Fast goal in the first period, Preds goalie Juuse Saros was rock solid in net and the Preds spending a lot of time in the Canes’ zone.

So Brind’Amour, as he put it, “Shuffled the deck.”

Brind’Amour broke up Sebastian Aho’s line, moving Martin Necas on to Vincent Troceck’s line and Jesperi Kotkaniemi to Derek Stepan’s line. Teuvo Teravainen left the Trocheck line to join Aho, and Brind’Amour also shifted Jordan Martinook off Stepan’s line to Aho’s line.

Carolina Hurricanes left wing Jordan Martinook (48) collides with Nashville Predators center Mikael Granlund (64) in the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Carolina Hurricanes left wing Jordan Martinook (48) collides with Nashville Predators center Mikael Granlund (64) in the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

“When I see us not playing the game the way we need to play it, I’ve got to do something as a coach, whether it works or not,” Brind’Amour said Monday. “Just a little jump start for the group.”

The Trocheck line delivered in the third. Trocheck won a faceoff in the defensive zone to defenseman Brett Pesce, who flipped the puck high and toward the neutral zone. When the Preds’ Alexandre Carrier fumbled the puck, Necas grabbed it in transition and made a perfect setup pass to Andrei Svechnikov for the score and 2-1 lead with six minutes left in regulation.

Martinook started the game on the fourth line, which gave Brind’Amour consistent shifts. By the third, the winger was playing with Aho and Teravainen.

“To get some energy, a little more pace,” Brind’Amour said. “Just a different look for them.”

Aho and Teravainen have often played together. Adding Martinook was a new element, displaying Martinook’s versatility and the trust Brind’Amour has in him.

“I thought we played a pretty solid third period,” Aho said Monday. “We had some good chances. ‘Marty’ works a lot, goes to the net, checks hard, just makes your job a little easier. You get a lot of loose pucks here and there you can pick up and it’s on me and ‘Turbo’ to make some plays there.”

At Monday’s practice, Martinook was back on Stepan’s line. Necas and Svechnikov were on Trocheck’s line. Jordan Staal’s line, with Fast and Nino Niederreiter on the wings, was unchanged, just as it was during Saturday’s game.

“They make it easy for me,” said Fast, who has two goals in the first two games. “They’re hard on the puck and strong.”

Brind’Amour gave Aho’s line a new twist Monday: Teravainen and Kotkaniemi on the wings, the three Finns together. But Brind’Amour quickly noted the Canes don’t play until Thursday in Montreal against the Canadiens.

Translation: Don’t read too much into it, which is a common Brind’Amour refrain.

“We’re still bouncing things around a little bit,” he said. “That’s the good part about having a good team, not worrying so much about matchups and getting guys caught out against other players. You can kind of afford to play anybody against anyone. That’s when you have a good team, so we’re definitely getting there.”

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