When a team suffers a defeat as lopsided as the Hurricanes’ 7-0 showing in Boston Monday afternoon, the natural reaction is to wish for an immediate do-over. Rarely is that wish actually granted.
The Hurricanes will get another crack at the Bruins tonight, as the two teams finish a back-to-back, home-and-home series in Raleigh. That might be the best remedy for a team that clearly isn’t happy about their most recent effort.
“It’s not a very good feeling in our locker room today, I don’t think anybody felt great waking up this morning and I don’t think anyone slept great last night,” said Hurricanes captain Eric Staal. “We’ve got a chance to redeem ourselves at home, play harder and play better, so we’re looking forward to that.”
Coach Paul Maurice said that he didn’t feel the need to dwell on what his team did poorly on Monday, as they had a pretty good idea of that themselves. The Hurricanes have gotten themselves into trouble early in games over the past few months and have given up goals that should have been backbreakers, but have often managed to fight their way back.
That’s what Maurice felt was missing on Monday.
“We need to be able to push back – that’s what was lacking in that game,” he said. “There was 16 minutes in that second period that nothing happened for either team, and that was our window.
“I’m looking forward to the game tonight, and some of it has to do with the age of our team. This is an important game. Coming back and learning to define who you are and how you handle a situation like that – this is an important piece.”
Goaltender Cam Ward, who was pulled after allowing two goals – and one more that was disallowed – in the opening 11:28 of Monday’s contest, will get the start again tonight. Although he has not been quite as sharp since suffering a lower-body concern that relegated him to backup duty for two games earlier this month (Maurice called Ward 100 percent healthy), his coach expects him to be at his best tonight.
“I’m probably more confident in that than anything else that’s going on here,” he said.
On a lighter note that mixed somewhat awkwardly with the otherwise total lack of good-natured fun in the Hurricanes locker room Tuesday morning, Staal and the Detroit Red Wings’ Nicklas Lidstrom received the endorsement of their fellow All-Star participants to serve as captains during the upcoming event.
Staal now has the perhaps dubious honor of drafting his team, which will be known as “Team Staal” on Jan. 28.
“No pressure with that this year,” said Maurice. “I like the fact that he gets the recognition, and I’m also going to enjoy watching him put in his picks. We’ll see how many defensemen he takes early, that will be good.”
While Staal will have to abide by guidelines that require him to select all three of his goalies by Round 10 and all six of his defensemen by Round 15, he expects to more or less wing it when it’s time to step up to the podium.
“When it comes down to it, I don’t think you can really go wrong with anybody that’s there,” he said. “I’m just happy because I know I won’t be picked last.”
Staal has strong ties to two available players in Ward and his brother Marc, a defenseman for the New York Rangers, but seemed more concerned about making sure his teammate was taken care of.
“We’ve got a lot of people in this building that would love to see him on the same team as me, and we’ll try and make that happen,” he said.
Ward expressed hope that he might go higher in the draft with Staal picking, but also hinted that ending up on Team Lidstrom could be just as compelling.
“I’d have to shut him down when facing him in the game,” said Ward of Staal.
Pressure real or imagined aside, wearing the captain’s “C” at the All-Star Game should be a welcome departure from the inescapable pressures of his club team, which he knows well on a day like today. He’ll handle it quite differently.
“I won’t be yelling at anybody between periods, that’s for sure,” he said.