Productive practice, no bag skate for Canes

calexander@newsobserver.comJanuary 14, 2014 

Kirk Muller went through his share of bag skates as a player when coaches weren't happy with their team's performance or effort level.

But Muller, the coach, doesn't believe in them and didn't consider one Tuesday after the Canes' 2-0 disappointing loss to Calgary on Monday.

Instead, the Canes skated. They went one-on-one and two-on-two. They worked on finishing off the rush, on getting people in front of the net, on getting to rebounds. On scoring.

"The days go going out and bag skating for no purpose, you don't really gain anything," Muller said Tuesday. "Our mindset is, what do we need to get better at? Why did we lose? We didn't score and we didn't score the game before, but we need to be better in our one-on-one battles.

"We put together that practice that was upbeat. We laid out the plan for the week and today was a work day. They had a hard practice but they accomplished something, too. … There's other ways to address a loss than bag-skating them."

Muller liked the intensity of the practice at PNC Arena. He liked the emotion shown.

The workout ended with a "bull in the ring" drill, with players going head to head and competing to get and then control the puck. Eric Staal and Ron Hainsey went at it hard. Radek Dvorak and Jay Harrison. Alex Semin and Elias Lindholm. Two by two they went into the faceoff circle.

Forwards Pat Dwyer and Drayson Bowman missed the practice, both with lower-body injuries. Muller said he expects both to be available for the game Saturday against Florida.

The Canes now have gone six periods without a goal. Their last score was Lindhom's power-play goal with 1:09 left in the 6-1 win Thursday over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

It's the first time Carolina has been shut out in back-to-back games since losing to Montreal and Buffalo in November 2012. That was a few games before Muller replaced Paul Maurice as the Canes coach.

Muller said the Canes didn't come out with any "pizzazz" against the Flames, managing just five shots in the first period, and noted, "I'm not sure I have the answer for that one." But he said the Canes had quality offensive chances against the Flames, and in the 3-0 loss Friday at Columbus, but couldn't cash in on them.

"It's a mindset," Muller said. "We've got to get some guys who haven't scored to not go into these games going, 'Oh, I haven't scored in 20 games, I haven't scored in 18, 16.' What they have to do come Saturday and say, 'Hey I have to play the game the right way. I have to play hard. You're not scoring on me and then I'm going to create offensive chances.'"

The Canes will not practice Wednesday. Their practices Thursday and Friday will be at Raleigh Center Ice.

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