Even though the result in Atlanta last night was the same – a third straight loss for the Canes – there’s no question that it was a much better effort than in their previous two games and a step in the right direction.
The mood at practice on Saturday seemed to reflect that. It was a far cry from the intense and sometimes angry workout on Thursday that followed the 5-1 loss to the Capitals. At about 30 minutes, this morning’s session was much shorter, for one. The tone, set by a high-spirited breakaway drill at the outset, was lighter as well.
That's not to say it was lacklustre, as coach Peter Laviolette seemed impressed with his players afterwards.
”Guys were into it, they were vocal, they were up and down the ice and they were sharp,” said Laviolette.
Call it a message of encouragement rather than punishment.
“You can’t keep pounding them into the ground in practice because you’re irritated that you didn’t win a hockey game or because of effort,” said Laviolette, “All you get at that point is beaten players.
”Sometimes when you go through these funks you just put your head between your legs, and that’s not the way to get out of it. You can’t get out of it that way. You’ve got to face it and dig in.”
Although the mood may have been lighter in practice, the goal isn’t to keep it that way for tomorrow afternoon’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
”You’ve got to be relaxed, but at the same time you’ve got to get pissed off,” said Tuomo Ruutu
. “I don’t think there’s any shortcuts. That’s the way to battle back, and that’s the way we’ve got to do it.”Tomorrow’s game will be the first for Tampa Bay
since firing head coach Barry Melrose yesterday evening. To be honest, I wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing for the Canes at first. On one hand, it’s a clear indication of a team in some turmoil. But on the other hand…
”One percent of the time a team comes out and they’re kind of deer-in-the-headlights,” said Laviolette. “The other 99 they’re on fire. I’m going to go with the odds.”
Ruutu, who experienced a mid-season coaching change while playing in Chicago
”There’s no doubt that they’re going to come hard. There’s a new coach, and everybody wants to show him what they’re all about and that they want to play for his team. But it’s our home ice, and I think we should be going after them, not them after us.”
Very big game tomorrow – after some very encouraging signs surrounding the team this morning, a flat effort would be a tough pill to swallow indeed. No reason the Canes shouldn’t come out flying themselves.
Patrick Eaves was back at full practice today. Laviolette said that he will be available tomorrow. Judging by the forward lines today
, that would leave Patrick Dwyer
as the odd man out.