is a veteran of 19 NHL seasons and 141 career Stanley Cup Playoff games. The 38-year-old center, who has registered 50 goals and 107 points in the playoffs, is a big reason the surging Carolina Hurricanes
have returned to the postseason tournament for the first time since winning the Stanley Cup in 2006. Brind'Amour took a moment to chat with NHL.com about his postseason expectations.
1. NHL.com: Is there any significance to the fact your team has been in playoff mode for the last month prior to entering the postseason?
Rod Brind'Amour: "There were many teams in the same mode as us, having good records, and we had to get to that point about 15 games ago or we wouldn't have made it. So we were forced to do that a little premature because our situation has been one of desperation, and other teams have as well. You can see it. We stepped up a little bit and that enabled us to have this run."
2. NHL.com: Is it possible to carry momentum from the regular season into the Stanley Cup Playoffs?
Brind'Amour: "I don't know. I've seen it both ways. I think it all comes down to the fact that when the playoffs start, it's a whole new season. Winning or losing, your team identity and knowing how to be successful is what is most important and we found that, so we know how to play and be successful as a team and that's the important thing. Whether you're hot going in or not, I don't even know if that's a big deal. It's just having your team identity and everyone kind of knowing what it will take to get it done."
3. NHL.com: What has clicked for this team that just wasn't there earlier in the season?
Brind'Amour: "I think consistency from goaltending out. Cam (Ward) has been great this past month, which is obviously your No. 1 concern. And if you have that going, you can cover up a lot of other deficiencies or things that aren't going well. And if things aren't going well than it just doesn't matter, so I think he's been the biggest difference of why we've gone on a run. Everyone else just started figuring out how to get it done and we're getting a lot of contributions from a lot of different players, which has definitely helped."
4. NHL.com: Who is the unsung hero on Carolina's roster this season?
Brind'Amour: "Well, we've had quite a few guys who have had good years that you don't normally hear about. A guy like (defenseman) Anton Babchuk, who's scoring a lot of big goals for us and that's something you wouldn't expect. We've gotten great play from (forward) Chad LaRose and, I think, even (forward) Ray Whitney, who's probably been our best player all year -- just never had any lulls. And that, to me, is your MVP of any team -- since he's a guy who consistently plays the whole year. It's one thing to get hot for one or two games, but to be as consistent as he has been all year long is outstanding."
5. NHL.com: What is the one thing that upsets your coach, Paul Maurice?
Brind'Amour: "He doesn't like sloppiness. If we're not passing enough and (are) a little bit off, he pulls us in and lets us have it and we move on. It's more that he wants us to be crisp and clean and get things done properly; but if you're sloppy, he's going to let you know."
6. NHL.com: Are there any similarities between this season's team and the one that won the Cup?
Brind'Amour: "Most of the guys are still around, so that's a definite similarity, so your better players are still the same. Cam's going to be our goalie and I know he wasn't at the start of our Cup year, but he'll be there this year and that's the No. 1 thing, knowing that he's been there before and won."
7. NHL.com: Do you prepare differently for a Stanley Cup Playoff game than you would a regular-season game?
Brind'Amour: "Well, I try not to -- I just play hard every game. I don't know if you prepare any differently. You don't want to make too many big adjustments and change your routine too much. So I personally don't try it very often."