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Maurice knows how to get the most out of 'Canes

by John Manasso
RALEIGH -- A lot of coaches would never be able to find anything funny about a loss, let alone a playoff loss.

But after reviewing the tape of his team's defeat in Game 1 of its best-of-7 Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the Bruins, Carolina Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice said some of the turnovers that led to Boston's goals were "almost comical."

Rather than beat his veteran team over the head with video after video of what it did wrong, Maurice took more of a psychological approach, much as he has done all season in turning the Hurricanes around since he was hired on Dec. 3.

"It was easy to see what we needed to correct," Maurice said on Monday, one day after the Hurricanes' 3-0 victory against the Bruins in Game 2 that evened the series.

Chalk it up to another case of Maurice knowing how to read his team, one of the factors that led to his second go-round behind the Carolina bench.

When General Manager Jim Rutherford chose to relieve Stanley Cup-winning coach Peter Laviolette of his duties and award Maurice his second stint as coach of the franchise, the Canes were only three points behind Southeast Division leader Washington. But Rutherford wanted to play a less risky offensive style, and he also thought the team needed to regain its confidence.

Despite Maurice's relative youth at age 41, Rutherford said that the coach, who ranked as the NHL's youngest from November 1995 to June 2003 his first time around with the franchise, has probably encountered more situations than many of his counterparts in 11 NHL seasons.

"He's underappreciated because of the tough circumstances he's worked in: leaving Hartford and the two years we were in Greensboro and getting the franchise started here," Rutherford said. "Throughout those years he took one of those teams to the Stanley Cup Final, too. He had the experience of coaching in the big market in Toronto. ...

"The other part of it is that he's capable of changing his system according to the players he has. At one point with us the first time around he was labeled as a defensive coach, but that was related to the players we had. We didn't have a lot of offensive, high-powered players. But I knew based on what players he was given that he was capable of changing his system."

Carolina concluded the season 33-19-5 under Maurice, but the payoff truly did not come until the end. Without going into specifics, Maurice said the team -- and Rutherford credited the addition to the staff of Ron Francis out of the front office and to Maurice for delegating authority -- installed two or three rules to ensure that the Hurricanes would remain in better position defensively regardless of what the offensive situation might be.

"The rest of it was that we spent the next two and a half months convincing them they could win," Maurice said.

Not surprisingly, Maurice said the transition back to Carolina, where he coached for eight seasons, has been "extremely comfortable." That was not always the case in Toronto, where the team failed to make the playoffs in his two seasons.

Carolina Hurricanes Playoff Gear"In Toronto the adversity or just the scrutiny is more extreme and the reasons why you should fail or you should win are brought up every single day," he said. "... That's probably the reason why they won't announce the fact that they think they can win until two years after they've won. That's the danger of saying, 'I think we have a good team' up there because you get beat about the head and face with that every time you lose a game."

But no one is saying those things now.

Day off for 'Canes
-- Maurice gave the team the day off Monday. He said everyone who played in Game 2 was healthy and expected to have the same lineup for Game 3. ... Maurice said having the last change at home provides a "slight advantage" in trying to keep Staal away from Boston's top defense pair of Norris Trophy finalist Zdeno Chara and Aaron Ward, but he said it was more important what the player does once he's on the ice.

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