Canes prep for home opener with early loss in the past
Posted January 21, 2013
Updated January 22, 2013
It is easy to look at the result from the Carolina Hurricanes season opener Saturday and conclude there was nothing good to take from it, just scrap it and move on. A 5-1 defeat under the spotlight of opening night was bad enough, but it seemed a lot worse due to a three-month delay to the start of the season caused by the lockout.
The overreaction to the loss is natural, Canes fans anticipated seeing Jordan Staal and Alex Semin in uniform leading Carolina to a four-goal victory, not the other way around. Fans can’t be blamed for wondering to themselves, ‘All that waiting and this is what we get?’ With only 48 games to play, and every point being precious, how could that be curtain up for the year?
Head coach Kirk Muller acknowledged the start was less than ideal saying, “Yeah, it’s a tough game, there is a lot of weird things going on here in the first few days of games. I thought we were fine, we just didn’t start off the right way and we made some mistakes and it cost us and I think the guys are aware of it.”
Yes, it was bad. The first period had just about everything go wrong for the Canes: the special teams were out of sync, digging themselves into a 4-0 hole after 20 minutes, one of the elite goalies in the game today was pulled after just one period, there were mental and physical errors, there was an inability to finish offensive chances - and it all unfolded the first third of the contest. That was more than enough to have fans wringing their hands.
Muller doesn’t do that. As the head coach of the Hurricanes, he understands it is one game. While the scoreboard is the ultimate judge sometimes, it doesn’t always reflect if a team continued to play hard or just went through the motions. Looking at the game film, Muller knows it wasn’t as much of a horror show as people think.
“I was pretty happy to be honest with you with our effort and execution on certain things,” Muller said. “If anything, we just beat ourselves early on. Give them (Florida) credit, they capitalized when we gave them the opportunity.”
The first few days of the NHL season have featured moments that most teams would like to forget. There have already been nine games decided by three goals or more, and the season is barely 48 hours old. The defending Stanley Cup champion LA Kings were hammered 5-2, perennial power Detroit was crushed 6-0 and Vancouver was trounced 7-3.
Why those teams stumbled is a problem that doesn’t concern the Hurricanes. About his team’s tough start, Muller explained maybe the waiting was the hardest part.
“Some of it is fatigue and mental mistakes, just guys trying to do too much,” Muller said. “These guys have been caged up for a while and they want to go out. ‘Less is more’ is a simple saying in hockey, but it is so true. I think we had some guys that wanted to do so much and do so well and they are so excited and it backfires sometimes.
“I can handle not being perfect on our execution and systems, but I thought we were okay on it as the game went on.”
Muller pointed to the fact that the Canes out-shot and out-chanced the Panthers, but his team didn’t bury its chances.
It was a hard lesson to learn, and for fans, probably more difficult to watch in game one of the season. It doesn’t have Muller worried headed into the PNC Arena for the first home game.
“I think our guys will respond tomorrow and we will pick up the good stuff we did and build from there,” Muller said.
Monday's Practice notes
• Zac Dalpe missed practice due to an illness.
• Kirk Muller announced that Cam Ward will be the starting goalie for the home opener
• The team worked on a lot of individual battle drills that turned into 3-on-3 work with a physical edge to it.
• The lines in practice had Eric Staal centering for Alex Semin and Drayson Bowman. Muller has said that he is going to give the players from Charlotte a chance to show what they can do early. The other combinations were Jordan Staal anchoring a line with Chad LaRose and Jiri Tlusty. Jussi Jokinen flanked by Jeff Skinner and Patrick Dwyer and the fourth combination worked Tim Brent, Kevin Westgarth, Jeremy Welsh and Zach Boychuk.