Canes Now

January 17, 2014

Canes focus on Panthers, not losses

Canes coach Kirk Muller is tired about talking about the Calgary game, about answering questions about the 2-0 loss Monday to the Flames.

Canes coach Kirk Muller is tired about talking about the Calgary game, about answering questions about the 2-0 loss Monday to the Flames.

"We had one bad game," Muller said Friday. "Everybody talks about it (four) days later. We're not. We're focused on these games coming up. It's a big weekend."

The Canes face the Florida Panthers on Saturday, then the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday in a rare back-to-back at home. Of the 11 games left until the Olympic break, the Canes have eight at home and need to pick up points to try and keep pace in the Metropolitan Division.

The Panthers game also will be the first of five games in seven days and Carolina overall play the next 11 games in 22 days. That will be a challenge that’s as much a mental grind as a physical test, captain Eric Staal said.

"It's both," Staal said. "Physically it's demanding because of the back-to-backs and the way teams compete and the battle level you have to have. It can wear on your body.

"We've got a lot of hockey coming up and you've got to be smart about what you're doing in the off-days. We need to be pushing hard to pick up points because everybody in our division is."

After the loss to Calgary, the Canes had Tuesday as an off-day, then practiced the past three days. They got in a lot of work on special teams, defensive-zone coverage and other areas of their game that needed improvement.

Scoring a goal has been a problem the past two games, after shutout losses to Columbus and then Calgary. Muller said the Canes are not dwelling on it, and Staal agreed.

"The goals will come," Staal said. "We need to play the right way. We need to play a solid, structured type game and the offense will take care of itself.

"You look around the league, it's 2-1, 3-2, shootout, overtime. It's tight. We need to focus on keeping pucks out of our net and then when we get the opportunities you need to be focusing and bury them. We need to have that killer instinct when we have those opportunities."

Forwards Patrick Dwyer and Drayson Bowman were at practice Friday at Raleigh Center Ice after missing practice time this week. The lines had Eric Staal centering Jiri Tlusty and Alex Semin, Jordan Staal centering Nathan Gerbe and Dwyer, Elias Lindholm at center with Jeff Skinner and Tuomo Ruutu and Manny Malhotra centering Bowman along with Radek Dvorak and Riley Nash.

The defensive pairs during practice had Justin Faulk with Andrej Sekera, Ron Hainsey with John-Michael Liles, Brett Bellemore with Ryan Murphy and Jay Harrison with Mike Komisarek.

Anton Khudobin and Justin Peters were in net as Cam Ward continues to recover from his lower-body injury.

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Canes beat writer Chip Alexander

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