On the day after, there was talk of pickle juice and burps and banana consumption, of a game played 21 years ago that the winning coach lost, and how Rod Brind’Amour might get punched in the face.
After a four-overtime Stanley Cup playoff game, the conversation can go in any number of directions. So it was Friday after the Florida Panthers’ 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final.
Technically, the game ended on Friday, in the wee hours. It started on Thursday a little after 8 p.m. at PNC Arena, and came to a finish a little before 2 a.m. Friday when the Panthers’ Matthew Tkachuk scored with 13 seconds left in the fourth OT.
A big question Friday was how the Canes might be affected by such a loss?
Paul Maurice’s answer: not much.
Maurice, the Panthers coach, was behind the Carolina bench in 2002 when the Canes took a 3-2 loss in three overtimes to the Detroit Red Wings. That was in the Stanley Cup final, and the Wings quickly put away the Hurricanes in winning the Stanley Cup.
“I think that just broke us,” Maurice said. “We didn’t look the same after that.”
And the Canes team now, in 2023, after a tough loss? There’s a difference, Maurice said.
“I think this will truly be one game,” he said.
Meaning a one-and-done, with the Canes able to flush it and move on.
Maurice said the Canes in 2002 had to deal with the Red Wings, a team laden with future Hockey Hall of Famers, at the end of an exhausting playoff run. The Canes did win Game 1, in overtime, in 2002 but then lost four straight.
“I think they are completely different situations,” he said. “We had been swinging above our weight class for seven weeks and that 2002 Detroit team is still the best team I’ve ever seen.”
The Canes and Panthers appear evenly matched. Both had extra days off following their second-round series wins — the Canes over New Jersey, Florida over Toronto — as the NHL grappled to get its third-round schedule ironed out.
“Emotionally, neither team has had to go to the well so many times that that loss will break them, or make us almost complacent, thinking this is going to be easy,” Maurice said. “I think that one will be easy to package and put away.”
That ‘s what Brind’Amour is counting on — the “package and put away” part. The Canes, the Metropolitan Division champions, have played well at home all season and in the playoffs. It’s an experienced team that has taken some playoff lumps the past five years and learned how to best deal with them.
“It’s a new day,” Brind’Amour said Friday. “We’ve done this for five years — the mentality of, “Today, try to do your best and when tomorrow comes let’s focus on that day.’
“Yes, it was a weird day, a long day and not a great day for us. But that day is over.”
Was Game 1 draining? Yes, but for both teams. Could it have a bearing on Game 2, Saturday at PNC Arena? Yes, for both teams.
Panthers defenseman Brandon Montour played almost 58 minutes. While Maurice calls him a “freak athlete” who rarely displays signs of fatigue, and didn’t Thursday, Montour skated an estimated eight miles in the game.
Different players have different ways in dealing with long overtime games. Some drain energy drinks during the intermissions. Some like pickle juice. Many eat protein bars.
Canes defenseman Brady Skjei, who had 67 shifts in Game 1, said he ate four bananas — Montour said none for him, that bananas make him burp.
Brent Burns led the Canes in ice time (54:43) and the big D-man put in 71 shifts in the game. But Burns also is 38. Brind’Amour was asked Friday if he might consider “load management” for Burns and others in Game 2, with an eye to having fresher players down the line in the series.
“You think about it, but who?” Brind’Amour said. “You’re definitely considering it with your goalies. That guy (Frederik Andersen) played the whole game, so that’s a consideration.
“I can say, ‘Oh, I’ve got a 38-year-old on the back end and maybe I should not go to him.’ I can tell you right now if I even thought that, he’d punch me in the face.
“And,” he added, “I’d be the dumbest coach ever.”