Maybe it was winning a preseason game, maybe it was being back home or having a day off, or maybe it was a pending tee time on a sunny day, but the Canes had a spirited practice Monday morning at PNC Arena.
The Canes took the ice at 8:30 a.m., getting in a one-hour practice before leaving for Prestonwood Country Club and the annual Kids 'N Community Foundation golf outing. It ended with shootout shots that had the added "pressure" of the team not scoring skating the width of the rink and back -- or the goalie giving up a goal having to skate to the blue line.
Alex Semin, Tim Gleason and Elias Lindholm all missed the workout with upper-body injuries, and Tuomo Ruutu with a lower-body injury. Canes coach Kirk Muller said none of the injuries are believed to be serious, although all four players likely will miss more practice time (Lindholm did a conditioning skate after practice.)
After three straight losses to open the preseason, the Canes topped Montreal 3-1 on Saturday. Anton Khudobin had 41 saves and the Canes were solid all-around, killing off eight Montreal power plays.
"I think we're right on course," Muller said Monday. "You always want to win but the thing we knew before was that with four games in four days the priority was to give everyone an opportunity to play. I think we did that. We obviously made some moves to cut down (the roster) after the four games and tighten it up around here.
"I think stage one of camp was pretty successful. The guys worked hard and competed. Some guys' stock went up and for some guys it went in the other direction."
The Canes put six players on waivers Sunday with the purpose of assigning them to the Charlotte Checkers (AHL). That trimmed the roster to 28 players.
Defenseman Matt Corrente is still in camp fighting for a roster spot. Corrente took a puck in the nose Monday that left him bloodied, but hurried out of the treatment room so he would not miss the late-practice shootout.
"He could have called it a day if he wanted," Muller said. "That's what I like."
With four players out with injuries, Eric Staal centered a line with Jiri Tlusty and Radek Dvorak; Jordan Staal with Nathan Gerbe and Pat Dwyer; Riley Nash with Jeff Skinner and Drayson Bowman; and Jeremy Welsh with Brett Sutter and Kevin Westgarth. Zac Dalpe and Chris Terry also were used with different line combos.
On defense, it was Justin Faulk-Andrej Sekera, Ron Hainsey-Ryan Murphy, Jay Harrison-Brett Bellemore, and Mike Komisarek-Corrente.
"Now we want to really fine-tune details of our game," Muller said of the final two weeks of practice. "In Montreal we gave up eight scoring chances against, five on five. That was a really good example of stuff that we've been focusing on so far. That part we'll continue to do every day but fine-tune it. We really need to focus now on special teams. Really get into the power play and P.K."