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Canes to Become More Aggressive

Sunday, 10.4.2009 / 1:51 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Canes to Become More Aggressive
In a game as messy as Saturday's 7-2 loss in Boston, there are lots of things that need to improve. However, even in such a complicated situation, the solution is surprisingly simple.

Paul Branecky
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“We really just need to do everything the reverse way,” said Tuomo Ruutu

While the majority of the finger-pointing after the opening night loss to Philadelphia went towards special teams, the culprit in game two was more or less what Ruutu said – everything. Although the Canes could have spent five hours on the ice at Sunday’s practice (they didn’t – it was the standard one), they instead believe that the root of their problems on the young season comes from their level of competitiveness, which will be the focus coming into Tuesday’s home game against Tampa Bay.

“We’re just not battling hard enough,” said Ruutu. “It’s a mental thing. Not to take anything away from Boston, but I don’t think it was even about them playing that well. It was more about us not competing.”

“Our special teams clearly have to improve and can improve, but there’s an overall fight level that has to increase,” said Coach Paul Maurice, whose team has given up six power play goals in just two games. “It’s not where guys are standing; it’s what they’re doing when they’re standing there.”

Although Sunday’s practice wasn’t the famous “bag skate” by any means, it did feature a lot more contact drills in the corners, with most players not shy to give their teammates a good shove from time to time. Expect to see more of that when it counts next week.

”We’ve got to get more aggressive with what we’re doing,” said Maurice. “If we’re going to be giving up goals during games, we might as well do it while we’re working.”

That aggression did surface in the latter part of the Boston game, as the Canes alone earned 44 penalty minutes thanks to fights by Andrew Alberts and Jay Harrison and a misconduct penalty to Tom Kostopoulos. That didn’t help them get back into the game, but it’s a step in the right direction for Maurice.

“I like the fights and I like the fact that when it wasn’t going well we didn’t just sit through it,” said the coach, who is normally more reserved in that area. “I like that fight in our team, and I don’t think that we saw that in any off the butt kickings the team took last year where we just went away quietly. We don’t want to be getting guys suspended or stupid, but I like the guys that were willing. They didn’t take on small guys either - they took on their big boys and I like that.”

A potential problem for the Canes is that a blowout loss of that magnitude came at the start of the season when they haven’t yet demonstrated that they’re capable of better, although they certainly are. Although that might put more pressure on them heading into games against Tampa Bay (twice) and Florida next week, the Canes will try hard not to let it.

“We definitely can’t treat it like we have to win, but we can’t just forget about it and move on either,” said Ruutu. “We have to refocus and start all over again.”

It’s probably needless to say at this point since he returned to the ice and scored a goal, but Eric Staal is fine after taking 25 stitches near his right ear after being hit with a Matt Cullen shot. It doesn’t look pretty – I’m not sure his ear would still be attached to his head without the stitches – but it could have been much, much worse.

Maurice did not have an update on Erik Cole, who sustained a knee injury in Boston and did not practice today. Cole is expected to undergo tests later today.

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Skinner 82 28 23 -2 51
V. Rask 80 21 27 -6 48
J. Staal 82 20 28 6 48
E. Lindholm 82 11 28 -23 39
J. Faulk 64 16 21 -22 37
J. Nordstrom 71 10 14 1 24
A. Nestrasil 55 9 14 4 23
R. Nash 64 9 13 -5 22
N. Hanifin 79 4 18 -14 22
J. Slavin 63 2 18 1 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 23 17 10 .909 2.41
E. Lack 12 14 6 .901 2.81