Bryan Allen plays prankster role at Canes' practice

calexander@newsobserver.comFebruary 29, 2012 

The day after a hardfought win over the Nashville Predators, the Canes put in a fast-paced practice today at Raleigh Center Ice.

Not that there wasn't some levity.

Defenseman Bryan Allen, who had the winning goal in the 4-3 victory, was off the ice for a "maintenance day." But he was at RCI. And apparently up to some mischief.

While the Canes were on the ice, Allen went into the locker room, collected all their clothes and crammed them into large trash bags. When the players came off the ice, the clothes were dumped into a big stack on the floor, leaving them to pick through them.

Written on the white board: "Thanks for the laughs boys!!!" The culprit was long gone, of course.

Anthony Stewart referred to it as the "team yard sale," while adding a few other, uh, comments about Allen.

Allen fills many roles for the Canes: gritty blueliner, shot blocker, fighter, team leader. Now he apparently has another: prankster.

The Canes capped a 6-1-4 February with the victory over the Preds, easing up to 13th in the East, eight points behind eighth-place Washington. They did it despite injuries to Joni Pitkanen, Tuomo Ruutu, Chad LaRose and Pat Dwyer.

"Guys are playing for each other," coach Kirk Muller said. "Guys are not only doing different roles but it might even change weekly. We've got some different personnel on different nights. We tweak it. We've got injuries.

"Because of it guys are being very versatile. I'd love to have 12 guys all in set lines and this is our power play and this is the P.K. But that's not what we're about right now."

Stewart, for example, was placed on waivers recently by the Canes. Unclaimed, he has been playing hard, has points in three of his last four games and today was on Eric Staal's line with Jiri Tlusty.

"What I really like is the way the guys are fighting and the way they're getting points," Muller said. "They're giving everything they've got. Some nights it's not good enough and some nights it is, but I can live with that if they compete and play hard on a consistent level, which they've been doing."

The Canes again had three goalies at practice -- Cam Ward, Justin Peters and Brian Boucher. Boucher, out since early December with a lower-body injury, is close to being able to play. Muller said there a "good chance" Boucher could be first sent to the Charlotte Checkers (AHL) on a conditioning assignment to get some games.

"It's been a while and he needs some playing time," Muller said. "But the first step is him getting that green light to be physically ready, Then he has to be ready mentally."

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