Tracking the Storm

Gameday: Canes Can Govern Mood of Long Summer

Saturday, 03.31.2012 / 12:16 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Gameday: Canes Can Govern Mood of Long Summer
The Carolina Hurricanes are unfortunately in for another long summer.

Michael Smith
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This time around, however, they still have four remaining games to set the mood heading into the off-season.

“We knew for awhile we were chasing our tails,” Patrick Dwyer said. “There was always a chance, but now that we’re out, we have to regroup and play these next four games like there is something at the end of the road.”

Head coach Kirk Muller said it would be a mental battle for the group of 22 in the locker room who, also physically, have to prepare for the second half of a back-to-back set where there are no tangible results in sight.

“At the end of the day when [going to the playoffs] doesn’t happen, it is deflating, and it’s tough mentally, but the way they get through it is continue to be a professional,” Muller said. “You really need to push each other to finish strong.”

So that’s what the team plans on doing.

Don’t expect to see big lineup changes, drastic line shuffling or altering of roles. Don’t expect these games to be last-ditch tryouts for some players, as Muller said his staff already has a “pretty good judge of everything." And don’t expect to see the team back off of the level they’ve sustained in the past few months.

“I just said to the guys, ‘We’ve made some really good strides, and I think there’s a lot of positive things,’” Muller said. “’Let’s finish on a good note. Too many good things have happened. We’re in the right direction.’”

Though missing the playoffs is never the goal of any team in any sports league, learning their fate with a week remaining in the regular season gives the Canes control over the tone of their summer. Last season, they were not afforded that luxury, as they saw their playoff hopes slip out of their grasp in the ill-fated final game.

“Last year, going into that final game with our fate in our hands and to come out of that game the way we did, it was very disappointing for us,” Dwyer said. “Either way you take it, missing the playoffs is never a fun experience.

“Ending on a good note is always a better thing than sitting with a sour taste in your mouth throughout the summer. It’s going to be a long summer, there’s no doubt about that. So the higher note we can go out on, the better.”

If nothing else, the Canes are building toward a promising campaign come October.

“There is that excitement of when we do buy into the systems and bring that energy, we can beat anyone,” Dwyer said. “It’s important to finish these games up strong for confidence going into next year.”

“I’m a positive guy in nature. I see all the good things. We deal with everything day-to-day, and are we a better team than we were yesterday?” Muller said. “And also, as a coach, you look a little bit more at the big picture and what’s in store for next year. It’s tough, but we’re excited about a lot of stuff.”

Two of the team’s remaining four games will be in the friendly confines of PNC Arena, which gives the team yet another reason not to lethargically trudge into the off-season.

“Last year, the disappointing loss, the fans were upset going through the summer,” Dwyer said. “So we’ll come out and give them two good games before the summer break and build that excitement around the community and around the area. They’ve always supported us, so it’d be nice to go out and show them two good games.”

Brian Boucher will be between the pipes tonight, just his second start since returning from an early December injury. In his most recent start, he made 23 saves on 26 shots in Minnesota in a 5-3 win. It was his first win as a Hurricane.

“You’ve got to play for a guy like that,” Muller said. “There’s always something you’ve got to play for.

“The easy thing to do is play at 80 percent right now. What we want to see is guys play right to the end.”



SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 252 192 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 221 189 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 262 211 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 242 203 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 252 230 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 235 221 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 238 215 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 221 210 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 213 211 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 206 223 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 236 250 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 215 234 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 181 216 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 188 226 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 211 262 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 161 274 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 77 23 31 -13 54
J. Faulk 82 15 34 -19 49
E. Lindholm 81 17 22 -23 39
V. Rask 80 11 22 -14 33
J. Skinner 77 18 13 -24 31
N. Gerbe 78 10 18 -14 28
R. Nash 68 8 17 -10 25
J. Staal 46 6 18 -6 24
J. Liles 57 2 20 -9 22
J. McClement 82 7 14 -7 21
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 22 24 5 .910 2.40
A. Khudobin 8 17 6 .900 2.72