The games are running out for the Canes, but they're not going through the motions in practice.
"We're going to work right to the end," Canes coach Bill Peters said Wednesday.
Peters put the team through a productive teaching practice Wednesday, instructing, correcting, keeping the pace pretty brisk.
"There's still lots to be learned," center Jordan Staal said. "Coach has given us some new things but we’re kind of layering over the old stuff as well and making sure it's concrete in the back of our minds.
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“It's always good to go over things, to keep it fresh and make sure we're ready for the games. We're definitely, structurally wise, learning a lot. It's just a matter of finding ways to win games."
The Canes, 2-6-3 since the NHL trade deadline, have been officially eliminated from playoff contention and continue a homestand Thursday against the Pittsburgh Penguins. For Staal, now in his third year with the Canes after being traded by the Pens, the Pittsburgh games still have extra meaning.
"I'm not going to get over it," Staal said. "It will always be different. It's going to be fun and a big game for us, as well."
Cam Ward will start in net for the Canes, ending Anton Khudobin's string of five straight starts. Ward, who has been slowed by an illness, last started March 14, when he gave up one goal in a 2-0 loss to the Florida Panthers.
Defenseman Rasmus Rissanen (MCL injury) and Jack Hillen (concussion) were the only players missing at practice. Their return is uncertain although Rissanen has been doing off-ice work.
"It's a great time to evaluate the character of your team," Peters said. "We're going to continue to prepare as we have all year, continue to practice properly and play every game as it has meaning.
"We're playing good teams that need points. If you can play against these good teams at this time of year, you've proven you're a guy we want moving forward. If all of a sudden you fall off the face of the earth and have a hard time keeping up, then we have questions about can you can play playoff-style hockey. So it's a great evaluation period."