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Practice Day Notebook: Getting Back to Playing Their Game

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The focus of practice today was working on the stuff the Canes know how to do, but need to up their execution to meet the level required of playoff hockey.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Carolina Hurricanes at Washington Capitals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

WASHINGTON — Justin Williams didn’t mince words when describing the Carolina Hurricanes’ sputtering Game 1 special teams squads.

“The power play kill was crap and the penalty kill was crap also,” the Canes captain told the media today after practice at Capital One Arena.

“They’re going to get opportunities, obviously,” Williams said. “But there’s a couple little things we looked at to do the best we can to nullify and a couple things we looked at on the power play as well to be more impactful. We could have had a huge impact on that game and instead didn’t come through.”

It will certainly be a talking point heading into Game 2. Every player knows it, and how well they respond to it will go a long way in deterring whether the Canes will return home with an even series and home ice advantage, or if they’ll be in a 2-0 hole.

“They’ve got a little skill,” said Brett Pesce, underselling the point just a bit. “I thought in the second [period] we were better, for sure. The first period was a lot of jitters and emotions. The second period we settled down. I think we’re going to carry that into the next game.”

That ability for the Canes to get back to their game allowed for the momentum to shift in-game and not leave them trying to figure things out on their off day. Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour said that despite the challenges on special teams, there’s plenty to like about how the team handled the Game 1 spotlight.

“Once we go over it, I think there’s some confidence in the way we played. We have a chance. We feel good about the fact that we have a good chance to win, and we believe in ourselves and the guys,” said Brind’Amour. “The results suck, obviously — we wanted to win the game. But there’s a lot of confidence in the way we played.”

Other Practice Notes

  • Calvin de Haan was a full participant in practice, but he stayed out after practice was done for extra skating work, so it seems unlikely he will play tomorrow. Jaccob Slavin missed practice on a maintenance day, but Brind’Amour expects him to be in the lineup tomorrow.
  • Brind’Amour said not to read too much into the fact that the lines reverted to form today after he shook them up a bit in the third period last night. “The [lineup] sheet we had yesterday, we threw it up on the board,” he said. “We were just trying to get a little sweat today and go over a couple things.”
  • So, do the lines change tomorrow? Based on past history, probably not, but never say never I suppose. I do think that if things start going sideways again Brind’Amour won’t wait until the third period to change things up.
  • One thing that won’t change: Petr Mrazek was in the starter’s net, and with no morning skate tomorrow, it will be his crease when Game 2 gets going tomorrow afternoon.
  • Svechnikov was obviously a revelation in the third period, and Brind’Amour wasn’t surprised - even if he wasn’t thrilled with the start of his game. “It’s not shocking to me. He’s a real good player. He’s finding his way. He hasn't even realized, I don’t think, how good he can be. I don’t even think he’s aware of how big a moment it is, and that’s really helpful for a young guy. I didn't like his first couple periods - wasn’t bad, but just wasn't real sharp. He got free a couple times, and that’s what he can do. Gotta figure out how to get him more ice time and get him freed up a little more. He has that ability. He’s one of those game-changing type players.”
  • Trevor van Riemsdyk, who has been a postseason participant four of his five years in the league, had some good insight on his teammates, ten of whom made playoff debuts last night. “I don't think they were overwhelmed by the moment at all. I thought we all played pretty well. Obviously the result wasn’t what we wanted. It’s cool to see the guys go through it for the first time, and I thought they all did a really good job of handling it.”

Tonight in the Playoffs

A few of you asked about open discussion threads on Wednesday. We wanted to see how it worked without opening one up, and frankly it didn’t work all that well with comments scattered around three different posts. So moving forward we’ll have a post at the end of each day for every night’s discussion. Some days it will be a post like this with practice notes and whatnot, others it will just be a listing of the TV schedule. Obviously, on Canes gamedays we won’t have one because we know where your focus will be.

Tonight’s action: