A Carolina Hurricanes blog with occasional news about the rest of the NHL.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Canes-Caps have late afternoon date

Today at a really awkward time of the weekend day, Carolina and Washington will square off at the RBC Center. Heading into the game, Carolina has a four point cushion over the Caps, but the Capitals have three games in hand.

Carolina leads the season series 3-2 and has won the last two games between the teams.

In the five games between the teams, Alexander Ovechkin has been simply en fuego. He has six (5/1) points, including two two-goal performances. The last time the teams met, he was kept off the scorecard. That has been happening a lot lately. Ovechkin hasn't tallied a point, and is a -5 in the last three games. JP over at Japers' Rink thinks that this has nothing to do with the arrival of Ovie's new girlfriend, who he met over the internet. There's a correlation between her arrival in town on February 7, and his virtual disappearance from the scoresheet. Correlation, not causation. Who knows whether she's wearing him out in the sack, or if he's daydreaming about her during the game, but he's gone ice cold. He may have snapped a scoring slump with the ladies, but the Capitals aren't paying him for that kind of scoring.

Carolina can only hope that hockey's answer to Jessica Simpson shows up at the RBC Center sporting one of these:

Carolina will be without their captain for the rest of the regular season and the playoffs. Rod Brind'Amour suffered a knee injury in the first minute of play on February 14 against the Penguins. Including that game, the Hurricanes are 3-1-1 without their Captain. In that time, Eric Staal has recorded seven (2/5) points. We'd really like it if Staal stepped up the same way Evgeni Malkin did when Crosby went down, but we Canes fans are pretty happy with what he's done.

This is a huge game for both teams. If Carolina can win this game outright, they can widen their lead over the Caps to six points, which takes the games in hand out of play.

Olaf Kolzig is calling this "the biggest game of the year." Mike from DC One-Timer is calling it "the most important game the Caps have played in the last 2 1/2 years." I'm guessing the Caps will have their game faces on. Will Carolina have theirs? One of the problems Carolina has had this season is consistency. They'll play an amazing game, a full 60 minutes of hockey one night, then come out flat the next game.

Eric Staal knows that this is his team now. He does all that "this is a team sport; it's not about one guy" stuff with the press, but he knows, and we all do, that it's on him now. He's capable of making it happen, and the rest of the guys are capable of stepping up their game in the face of adversity. Now is the time.

Carolina is 5-0-1 in their last six home games. Washington is 3-2-1 in their last six road games. The Caps will be playing on the front end of a back-to-back, while Carolina will be off until Tuesday.

We'd like to welcome DC One-Timer to the fray. As always, check out the excellent coverage around the Caps blogosphere from Off Wing Opinion, Japers' Rink, A View From The Cheap Seats, and from the owner himself, Ted's Take.

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