RALEIGH — Jeff Skinner was one of only a handful of Carolina Hurricanes players who went out on the ice Tuesday at the RBC Center.
Skinner said he was breaking in a new pair of skates. But the forward also said it was a way to flush some frustration out of his system.
"Yeah, I think you can," he said, sweat dripping off his forehead. "At the same time, there are times where you can take a step back and sort of take a day off to get rid of that stuff. It depends on how you're feeling."
The Hurricanes are not feeling well about their 0-2-1 start. The same can be said for the Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins, who are off to a 1-2 start heading into tonight's game at the RBC Center.
Canes coach Paul Maurice held a team meeting Tuesday and most of the players had off-ice workouts rather than skate. Maurice did not announce any lineup changes for the Bruins.
"When we look at our three games, there are big blocks that we really liked the things we're doing," Maurice said. "That's our challenge right now. It's not a matter of staying positive, it's staying together. We've got some things we can do better, but there were three, good, battling games and I think the battle was there.
"We have a few players who can bring a little more and we do need everybody going. That's true of every team. But there are a lot more things good in our game right now than things we're worried about."
The Canes finished a two-game road trip Monday with a 4-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils. The Bruins, a day after parading the Cup around Gillette Stadium in the New England Patriots' game, were shut out 1-0 at home by the Colorado Avalanche.
Boston coach Claude Julien had some choice words for his team, saying the Avs were "hungrier."
"They're searching for that good feeling, too," Maurice said.
When the Canes went 1-4-1 in preseason exhibitions, an easy explanation was "It's only preseason." Now it's the real thing and some of the same problems still exist - penalties, scoring goals, chemistry on the lines, and getting new players comfortable.
Rookie defenseman Justin Faulk, who averaged almost 19 minutes in ice time in his first three NHL games, was paired with Tomas Kaberle in the opener but played with Joni Pitkanen on Monday. Kaberle, another free-agent acquisition, now is being paired with Jay Harrison.
"It's a little harder for a defenseman (with) a brand new partner," Maurice said of Kaberle. "We play a different neutral zone and different forechecking system than he's used to playing, so there is a learning curve there."
Faulk, 19, made the team out of training camp. He has an NHL-low minus-6 rating, but his overall play has been generally solid and he has been used on the power play and penalty kill.
"I'm still as high on him as I was," Maurice said, "but I also think we need to be careful how much we put on his plate early."
Rookie defenseman Ryan Murphy, the Canes' first-round draft pick this year, has been a healthy scratch the first three games, as have defensemen Jamie McBain and Derek Joslin. Maurice left the door open for a possible change on for the Bruins, saying video was being reviewed and a decision would be made today.
The Canes were undone by a poor third period in their opener Friday, losing 5-1 to the Tampa Bay Lightning at the RBC Center. On Saturday, the Canes used a late goal by Jussi Jokinen in Washington to force overtime against the Capitals, but lost 4-3.
Cam Ward started in goal in the opener and backup Brian Boucher against the Caps. Ward was back in net for the Devils and will start tonight against Boston, Maurice said.
"It's a big game for us," said Skinner, who has a team-high five points. "It's early but at the same time you want to win games. I think there have been a lot of positives. I think if we stick to it and stay consistent I think good things will start happening to us and we'll get a bounce here or there and hopefully turn it around."