The Canes didn’t get thoroughly outworked in Paul Maurice’s first game back in charge last night. Instead, it was the glaring mistakes – killer turnovers, bad rebounds and missed scoring chances – that hurt them in the end.
Those mistakes come from lack of confidence, something which hasn’t yet taken a step forward with a new coach. Unfortunately for Maurice, Ron Francis and the rest of the coaching staff, confidence isn’t necessarily something you can fix with one practice.
“Success is the only way to build true confidence,” said Maurice. “Other than that, it’s to put yourself in position for the success.”
In order to do that, Maurice plans to work on how the team plays when the puck isn’t in possession of either team, which he described as the “gray area.”
According to the coach, the anxiety that comes from not scoring enough has caused the team to overplay such situations, which is causing breakdowns and odd-man rushes for the other team.
“That gray area decides whether you’re feeling pressure or not,” he said. “You’re either cheating forward or you’re confident. We’ve got to get ourselves to be a confident group when we don’t have the puck. Usually when that happens, you score more than you need.”
“We’re going to make sure we stay aggressive, but at the same time kind of hold and lock that middle of the ice to make sure we don’t give up big chances,” said Eric Staal. “We’ve just got to show a little more patience in the neutral zone.”
The Canes lineup will have a bit of a different look against the Flyers tomorrow, as Casey Borer and Tim Conboy are back in Raleigh after playing well in stints last year. Patrick Dwyer and Josef Melichar have been reassigned.
Including Borer, there’s a chance the Canes could only have five healthy defensemen tomorrow, as Tim Gleason, Dennis Seidenberg and Frank Kaberle all missed practice today. Kaberle left last night’s game with a lower body injury.
Wade Brookbank practiced on defense today, and Tim Conboy plays defense for Albany, even though he played on the wing for the Canes last year. If Kaberle can’t go tomorrow, one of them could slide back to the blue line.
Also, Scott Walker returned to practice today and skated with Brandon Sutter and Justin Williams. I wouldn’t rule him out for tomorrow.