If you walked into the Carolina Hurricanes dressing room a month ago, the atmosphere was lively, energetic and positive. The team was at the peak of the Southeast Division; what was not to be pleased about?
Walking into the room today you would have felt the same buzz, the liveliness, the energy and the positivity.
“At this point, if you get caught up in the games in the past, you’re going to lose your mind,” defenseman Tim Gleason said. “The only way [to move forward] is to stay lose and not play uptight.”
Understandably, an undercurrent of frustration cuts sharply through the mood in the room at times. The Hurricanes have dropped a team-record (since relocation) seven games in a row and a franchise-record eight straight at home. The team’s last win at PNC Arena came over a calendar month ago on March 9, a 6-3 victory over the New Jersey Devils.
“Obviously, when we come in after games and we’re losing hockey games, it’s not a good mood,” Gleason said. “Sure, there’s frustration, and it goes back to not winning hockey games.
“I think when you’re winning hockey games, there’s less finger-pointing, there’s less of a lot of things. You play with ease, and you play with confidence. Right now, we’re trying to find that confidence.”
With the belief that the effort has consistently been present – and it has produced tangible evidence in shots and scoring chances – the hope is that favorable results aren’t too far off in the distance.
Really, one game could be all it takes.
“We’ve shown some promise in the last couple of games, but we have to find a way to get a win,” Gleason said. “We just need a win right now, and the confidence will come.”
“The results aren’t what we want, but I think if we stay with it, I think in the big picture we’ll be OK,” head coach Kirk Muller said. “It seems like every little mistake we make, we pay the price on it. And you’ve got to fight back through it.
“I think what we need is to get rewarded for the effort they’re putting in. One of these games, I think they’re going to break loose.”
They’ll have to do it tonight against the Boston Bruins, who are knocking on the door of the Northeast Division lead, trailing Montreal by just a point. A point is also all Boston needs to clinch their six straight postseason berth.
After sweeping the season series with Boston for the first time in franchise history last season, the Hurricanes have dropped both meetings with the Bruins this season.
The last contest between these two teams was played just five days ago in Boston. Surrendering two goals on the Bruins’ first four shots in the opening eight minutes of the game quickly sank the Hurricanes, as Boston cruised to a 6-2 victory.
Justin Peters, who was yanked at the 7:58 mark of the first period in that Boston game, will get another crack at the Bruins tonight. It will be his fourth straight start, and after putting together a 28-save performance in Washington on Thursday night, Muller said Peters has earned the crease for tonight’s game.
“He’s been battling,” Muller said. “Just like the rest of the guys, if you’re going to keep fighting that way and battling, I think he deserves another crack at it.
“When you’re playing like that, you deserve the net again. Hopefully this is the night he gets his win.”
As a team, the Hurricanes will continue to fight and battle, now exactly two weeks from the end of this abbreviated season.
“The old saying is that it’s not over until it’s over,” Gleason said. Everyone in here has a job to do, and you have to do it to the best of your ability. From a personal standpoint, I think that’s what you look at.”