Is this the night? Does the Canes' winless streak end at 13?
"I hope so, yes," center Brandon Sutter said. "I think we're getting closer and closer. It seems like we've been kind of putting it off, and we can't lose any more games here."
But Tuomo Ruutu was more definitive about the game with the Islanders.
"Tonight is the night. I've really got to believe it," he said, sitting in his locker after the morning skate. "Yeah, it's tonight. I feel it.
"I'm sure you guys (media) are tired of coming in here and seeing us unhappy. You'd probably like to see us upbeat and I'd like to see us upbeat, you know."
But as Ruutu noted, again, saying it and doing it are two different things. It has to happen on the ice come game time.
Canes coach Paul Maurice has shuffled the lines with Scott Walker and Stephane Yelle out of tonight's game, putting Sutter on a line with Ray Whitney and Erik Cole -- a statement both about Sutter's play and the state of the Canes.
Ruutu, who scored twice Wednesday in the 5-2 loss to the LA Kings, will be on Matt Cullen's line with Jussi Jokinen, with Rod Brind'Amour centering Sergei Samsonov and Chad LaRose. Tim Conboy, who was placed on waivers Thursday, was at practice today.
"When you've lost that many games you have to try something new," Ruutu said. "But I don't think that's going to be the answer for tonight. The answer is going to be how hard we work.
"I keep saying this all over again but now I really mean it because we haven't been working hard enough."
Sutter has three goals in eight games since being called up from Albany (AHL), and had a season-high 17:31 in ice time against the Kings. He said he was pumped about being bumped up to the line with Whitney and Cole.
"Obviously it's exciting for me," Sutter said today. "Just being here playing with anyone's great. I was playing with Rosy (LaRose) and Roddy (Brind'Amour) the last few games and thought that was going pretty well. Obviously we're looking to kind of shake things up a little bit.
"Obviously to be with two guys like (Cole and Whitney) is an honor and I'm excited for it."
Sutter, like many of the Canes, said he has never experienced anything in hockey like the 13-game winless streak, which is one game off the franchise record set in 1992. Then again, he's only 20.
"I've been through a few losing streaks, obviously, but nothing like this," he said.