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News Wire: Scott Walker Suspended for One Game
In a predictably somber Hurricanes locker room the morning after the 6-0 home loss to the Ottawa Senators, the talk wasn’t at all about the next day’s game against the Calgary Flames, as it likely would have been in another situation.
In this situation, the talk was all about the Carolina Hurricanes and what needs to be done to play with a more consistent effort.
The personnel were good enough to start this season 11-4-3, and for the most part, win a Stanley Cup fairly recently. Health isn’t a huge problem either, with only one player, defenseman Mike Commodore, on the shelf at the moment.
Instead, the players were left to discuss how a team they know can be very good has become something short of that for the better part of the last month.
The conclusions are similar.
“It’s just making sure everyone’s working and working together,” said Eric Staal. “It’s doing the little things and bringing our attitude and work ethic to every game.”
”Mental awareness, mental sharpness, I think,” said coach Peter Laviolette. “We made mistakes right from the start of the game that really shouldn’t be made, things that we’ve known for a few years now and aren’t executing properly. [We need] mental toughness I guess to fight through where we’re at right now.”
The next step is finding out how to flip that imaginary switch that seems to dictate which team takes the ice on a given night. It was certainly on earlier in the season and more recently in the 5-1 win in Montreal last week, just as it was most certainly off against Ottawa and too often since mid-November.
When it’s on?
“It’s being physical, it’s being first on pucks, it’s making sure we’re skating,” said Staal. “We’re a fast team, we’ve just got to be using our speed. When you’re not skating, you’re not hitting and creating those offensive chances.”
When it’s off…well, you know.
Looking back at the schedule, the turning point may have been the 6-1 loss in Tampa Bay on November 14. Things were just fine before that, but the Canes haven’t won consecutive games since, posting a 5-8-0 record along the way.
They might need a similar turning point to get things back and restore the confidence that they display at the best of times, which sets up a big weekend of back-to-back games – at home against Calgary on Friday and on the road against Philadelphia on Saturday.
Wins, or at least great efforts, would go a long way in getting things back on track. A loss on Friday would mean a three-game losing streak, which would be the team’s longest of the season.
Laviolette indicated that he addressed the team as a group rather than individually in an attempt to get things straightened out.
”This needed to be addressed as a team,” he said. “It was good for everybody to see it, and it was good for everybody to hear it. Now we’ll see how we respond to it. I guess that’s the biggest thing.”