Canes captain Eric Staal took to the ice today at Raleigh Center Ice, determined to put the last two games behind him and his team.
Losing to the Washington Capitals and Dallas Stars, by a combined 10-3 score, at home, was not what anyone wanted. But Staal said the only thing that can be done now is to go New Jersey prepared -- physically, emotionally -- to beat the Devils on Tuesday.
"We're looking forward to playing in New Jersey, getting out there and trying to right the ship," Staal said after today's practice. "We need to compete harder than we did last night. Overall, I think we need to get a little tighter everywhere.
"But I think that comes down to competing and being stronger on pucks. When you're playing against skill teams that can make plays, they can make you pay. We saw that."
Staal, to his credit, again addressed his scoring slump, his inability to score at even-strength or consistently produce offensively in the first 14 games. He's not shying away from the topic or hiding out.
"It's been ugly," he said. "I'm a guy that's counted on obviously to score, a guy who's counted on offensively for this team and it's not happening. I've got to find a way and I'm working my tail off trying to do that.
"I'm getting lot attempts at the net, a lot of shot, a lot of opportunities but I've got to stay with it. It's a long year yet, so there's no use feeling sorry for myself. Just continue to try and get better and try to put points in the board, because I know if I'm giving that that we have a better chance winning games."
The Canes met behind closed doors at RCI, well away from the media, before practice. The message from coach Paul Maurice after the two losses?
"We didn't compete, we didn't show enough fight, which is disappointing," Staal said. "You can say all the right things and you can talk about it all you want. You have to show it on the ice. To a man I don't think we came out with enough fight and intensity."
The Canes may get injured forward Jussi Jokinen back this week, possibly for the game against the New York Rangers on Friday. Jokinen is on the trip.
MEA CULPA: There was a late scoring change that credited Tomas Kaberle, and not Staal with an assist on Chad LaRose's goal. It was reported today that Staal had earned the point. Not so.