As expected, Friday’s practice was an intense one.
At about 30 minutes, it wasn’t the proverbial “bag skate,” but coach Paul Maurice was constantly in the ear of his players as they went through drills, often in a manner that one can only assume is consistent with his second intermission speech from last night’s loss to Toronto.
“We showed them what hard work looks like,” Maurice said afterwards. “If we weren’t in the stretch of games that we are we would have done it on the ice a lot more. We tried to make our point and still let the players have an opportunity to have enough legs to win the game tomorrow night [at Buffalo].”
Although the Canes woke up in the third period, erasing a four-goal deficit for the first time in nine years, no one found comfort therein.
“In the third period you should be the most tired, and then you play your best period,” said Tuomo Ruutu. “That’s wrong. That’s why it’s not right.”
When the Canes were steadily improving since early December, culminating in the four-game winning streak that preceded the current run of defeats, work ethic and intensity weren’t a problem as the team instead focused on fixing the technical aspects of their game.
Now, that situation seems to have reversed.
“They go hand in hand, because when you’re not going as hard as you want to go, you’re always out of position or you don’t put yourself in position,” said Maurice.
“Obviously we have to play our system, but it doesn’t matter what system you play if you don’t play hard, because then you’re going to lose anyway,” added Ruutu. “Even if you don’t have a system if you play the hardest in this league you’re going to win games. That’s the way it is.”
Although Maurice made it clear that he believes the team has plenty of natural offensive ability, he suggested that the players have been relying on it too much rather than supplementing the necessary work ethic and physical play. He says that simplifying their game will allow that ability to flourish.
“We need to simplify our game so that our talent can come out," he said. "We’re suffocating it with stupidity.”
There's a lot more honest assesment from the coach in the audio from today's practice.