Erik Cole, like a lot of Hurricanes fans, was watching Monday night as the New York Rangers played the Boston Bruins on Versus.
Needless to say, Cole didn't like what he saw. The Rangers fell behind 3-0 in the second period, then rallied for a 5-3 win that pushed New York into seventh place in the East and four points ahead of the Canes.
"You can't control what other teams are doing," Cole said today after practice at the RBC Center. "All the guys were watching the game last night. What can you say? It's out of our control. All the teams that are in our situation are playing that desperate game and it shows.
"You just have concentrate on what we can do. I think we just need to finish the season with three wins and let the chips fall where they may."
Winning the last three won't be easy. The Canes face the Detroit Red Wings tomorrow at the RBC Center. Then it's one final back-to-back — Friday in Atlanta, then the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday at home.
The Buffalo Sabres, now eighth in the East, play the Lightning tonight at HSBC Arena. If the Sabres win, they will be 5 points ahead of Carolina.
Cole said if the Canes could reach the playoffs, they're playing well enough to make a run. But it's the getting there that's problematic now.
"If you can get in, you might catch somebody who's not been playing as desperately as you and aren't as prepared for playoff hockey," Cole said. "We've been preparing for months now. All we can is play as best we can, win games and we'll see what happens."
The Canes put in an energetic practice today. Eric Staal again was held out of practice but Canes coach Paul Maurice said he would play against the Wings.
The Canes have seven healthy defensemen. Maurice said a decision would be made after tomorrow's morning skate on who would be out of the lineup.
The Red Wings (46-23-10) are third in the West with 102 points and have won their last two games since the embarrassing 10-3 whipping last week by the St. Louis Blues.
The Canes' practice today was the first since a disappointing 2-1 overtime loss to the Sabres on Sunday.
"Instead of talking about we need a little help, it won't matter unless we win our games," Maurice said. "I liked so much of that game against Buffalo, especially that third period when it was even. It's not like they're chasing and you opening your game up. We had five really good chances to score in that third period.
"And I'm glad we weren't playing sitting back. That's the attitude that will make us successful and give us the best chance to be successful: we've got to go and we've got to be aggressive and play with no fear and all excitement."
Maurice said he was glued to the TV last night, as well, pulling for the Bruins.
"We've talked about this rollercoaster," he said. "It's even worse when you're watching other teams. At 3-0, you're thinking, 'Well, back in the fight and we can be back in eighth in 24 hours.' Then you watch that ... that was a little frustrating but we can't control any of it.
"You watch those games and you're coaching them -- 'Put that guy on the bench, he's got to get that puck deep.' Oh, man. 'Make a pass, man,' I finally said, 'This is crazy, 82 is enough.'"