Sometimes, it’s hard to read too much into body language, especially with pro athletes.
But in watching the Carolina Hurricanes players Friday at their team hotel, they came across as loose, focused and confident, certainly anything but a silent, sullen group a day after a tough playoff loss.
Rod Brind’Amour? The Canes coach had the look of a man in a hurry, ready to discuss Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals one last time for the media, if a bit reluctantly, and move on.
To be sure, losing Thursday to the Boston Bruins was a stinger. The Canes took a 2-1 lead into the third period only to have the Bruins score two power-play goals in 28 seconds to take the lead, then move on to a 5-2 victory at TD Garden.
The Canes did not practice Friday with Game 2 set for Sunday afternoon. But video sessions could not have been a pleasurable viewing experience. In addition to plays not made in Game 1 -- Brock McGinn, on a shorthanded rush, missing the net late in the second period -- there were any number of borderline calls and no-calls by the referees.
Case in point: Dougie Hamilton’s roughing penalty in the third period. Moments after it, the Canes’ Andrei Svechnikov took a blindside hit from behind from Sean Kuraly, in the neutral zone and away from the puck, without a penalty being called.
“That’s the one I was frustrated with,” Brind’Amour said Friday. “I actually thought we were going on the power play. I didn’t see Dougie’s in the corner. That’s not why we lost the game but, yes, I thought that was a penalty.”
So did most Canes fans, who bombarded Twitter with their opinions -- about the hit on Svechnikov and other calls.
The Bruins had tied the score 2-2 early in the third with a power-play goal after the Canes’ Jordan Staal was called for boarding. After Hamilton’s penalty, Patrice Bergeron’s power-play score on an open shot from the slot gave the Bruins a 3-2 lead.
Brind’Amour used his timeout at that point, but the damage had been done and the Bruins were sensing victory.
“They score two goals, the crowd gets into it, they took a lead,” Canes captain Justin Williams said. “Rod took a timeout to calm us down but we weren’t able to equalize.”
The Bruins had been scoring on the power play at a 28.6-percent clip in the playoffs, the best among the 16 playoff teams. But the Canes took five penalties in the game -- three in a row in the third period -- and as Hamilton put it, “It bit us in the butt.”
The Bruins scored the two in the third with two of their best players doing best-player kind of things, making the right plays to break down the Carolina penalty kill.
After the Staal penalty, the Bruins’ Brad Marchand made a good play to keep the puck in the zone at the blue line. Marchand then got off a shot from the right circle that goalie Petr Mrazek couldn’t swallow up, the puck falling in front of him.
The Bruins’ Marcus Johansson, between defensemen Calvin de Haan and Justin Faulk in front of the crease, knocked the puck in.
Hamilton was called for roughing after spotting the Bruins’ Joakim Nordstrom, a former Canes forward, skating in for a check. Hamilton, at 6-6 and 229 pounds, turned and put a reverse hit on the 6-1, 194-pound Nordstrom, hitting Nordstrom high in the chest.
In the first-round series against the Washington Capitals, Hamilton was criticized for side-stepping a hit by the Caps’ Alex Ovechkin. This time, he took and delivered a hit, only to be penalized.
On the power play, the Bruins’ Jake DeBrusk knocked the puck away from defenseman Brett Pesce after the faceoff in the Canes zone. Getting the puck back along the boards, DeBrusk made a cross-ice pass off his knees to Marchand. Mrazek went to the post, anticipating a Marchand shot, only to have Marchand slide a quick pass to Bergeron in the slot for the shot.
McGinn nearly got his stick on the DeBrusk pass to Marchand, and defenseman Jaccob Slavin nearly got his stick on the Bergeron shot -- a matter of inches -- but the Bruins executed and converted.
“We can’t take penalties. We know that,” Brind’Amour said Friday. “We don’t get into ‘are they penalties are not?’ They’re penalties. If they’re penalties, we have to kill ‘em. At the end of the day that’s not why we lost the game. We have to execute in those situations.”
To even the series Sunday before heading back to Raleigh for Games 3 and 4, the Canes will be after a stronger start than in Game 1. Brind’Amour again will wait to name a starting goalie but it figures to be Mrazek again, and he said there were no injuries in the game -- Svechnikov, shaken up by the Kuraly hit, did return and play.
The Canes will hold a team practice Saturday at TD Garden.
“I don’t like sitting in hotels for two days but again, that’s stuff you can’t control,” Brind’Amour said. “We’ve got to worry about what we can control. We can’t control calls or non-calls, can’t control the schedule.
“Control what we can control. Bounces, we’ve got to create our own. We’ve got to make our own noise and that’s what we’re going to try to do.”
Brind’Amour said Game 1 would be forgotten as soon as he walked out of the room after the press conference. Moments later, he walked out.
Hurricanes at Bruins
Game 2, Eastern Conference finals
When: 3 p.m., Sunday
Where: TD Garden, Boston