The Hurricanes are used to being counted out. It hasn’t bothered them before, and it doesn’t seem to be bothering them now.
“I hope so. I hope they're counting us out,” said Chad LaRose, who is used to the team coming through in such circumstances.
Now that they’ve had a day to shake off the dread and borderline shock they felt after going down 3-0 to Pittsburgh, the team returned today with a positive attitude. After all, what other choice do they have?
“We have all the character in the world here,” said Tim Gleason. “We’re going to come out ready to play, and we’re going to throw everything at them that we can. I don’t think there’s any added pressure at all.
“Going into a battle like tomorrow night is a positive feeling,” he added. “We have to stay positive. We're even willing to shave these beards off. We'll see what happens. I don't know.”
The modern-day Cardiac Canes have accomplished some amazing comebacks, but never one quite like this. They gave it a great shot after losing the first three against New Jersey in 2001, when they won the following two contests to make things interesting before ultimately falling in six games.
They’ll need more than that this time around, but the Hurricanes aren’t necessarily focusing on the long road ahead. In this case, they’ll continue to look at the smaller picture.
“We have a focus and a belief in one game,” said Coach Paul Maurice. “Our challenge is to get these guys back up so that they can believe something good can happen.”
“We're only done if we think we're done,” said Cam Ward.
If looking for a statement of confidence, look no further than Eric Staal. Although he’s fighting through a six-game goal drought dating back to the Boston series, the Canes’ star center reacted strongly to a question about whether his name belonged in the same discussion as the Crosbys and Malkins of the world.
“When those opportunities come, they're going to fall,” he said. “I didn't score 40 goals for no reason. I know what I can do, and I'll continue to attack on that. The media's going to say things. I've earned that right to have that. I played a good season, I've played a good career, and I wanted that.”
“That's why he is who he is,” said Paul Maurice.
Although Erik Cole, Tuomo Ruutu and Scott Walker did not practice today, Maurice said he expects all three to be available tomorrow, with Ruutu still the biggest question mark. The gritty Finn played in Saturday’s Game 3, but far less than he is accustomed to with just under eight minutes of ice time.
“A lot of what he likes to do is bang and hit and get in on the forecheck,” said Maurice. “If he feels strong enough that he thinks he’s going to be able to do that, then we’ll consider him. If he’s not, then we won’t.”
Prospect Drayson Bowman skated with Eric Staal and Sergei Samsonov at the Memorial Day practice, while Patrick Dwyer and Michael Ryan filled in the open holes on the fourth line.