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Tracking the Storm

Gameday: Canes Can Govern Mood of Long Summer

Saturday, 03.31.2012 / 12:16 PM / 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.”




1 TBL 51 32 15 4 166 133 68
2 MTL 49 32 14 3 130 111 67
3 DET 50 29 12 9 149 129 67
4 NYI 49 32 16 1 158 139 65
5 PIT 50 28 14 8 145 129 64
6 BOS 50 27 16 7 134 124 61
7 NYR 47 28 15 4 139 112 60
8 WSH 50 25 15 10 147 129 60
9 FLA 47 21 16 10 115 132 52
10 PHI 51 22 22 7 140 151 51
11 OTT 48 20 19 9 136 136 49
12 TOR 51 22 25 4 144 156 48
13 NJD 50 19 22 9 113 138 47
14 CBJ 48 21 24 3 120 151 45
15 CAR 49 17 26 6 105 129 40
16 BUF 50 14 33 3 94 179 31


E. Staal 44 16 14 -6 30
J. Faulk 49 10 19 -15 29
E. Lindholm 48 9 11 -12 20
R. Nash 49 7 13 -4 20
J. Tlusty 42 12 7 -14 19
J. Skinner 44 10 9 -9 19
N. Gerbe 45 5 13 -7 18
V. Rask 49 6 9 -13 15
A. Sekera 47 1 14 -7 15
J. McClement 49 1 9 -2 10
A. Khudobin 6 8 2 .914 2.41
C. Ward 11 18 4 .913 2.42