Saturday, February 23, 2008

Caps @ Hurricanes 2-23-2008 Preview

Washington Capitals (28-33; 63 points; 2nd Southeast Division, 11th Eastern Conference, 23rd Overall) vs. Carolina Hurricanes (31-33; 67 points; 1st Southeast Division, 3rd Eastern Conference, 19th Overall):
Caps Game #62, Road Game #32, NHL Game #933

RBC Center, Raleigh, NC, 5:08 pm. Washington TV: Comcast Sportsnet Mid-Atlantic Plus. Radio: WWWT 1500-AM, 107.7-FM Carolina TV: Fox SportsNet South Alternate. Radio: WCNC 99.9-FM. NHL Center Ice: Fox SportsNet South Alternate feed.

Today/This Afternoon/Tonight (whatever you want to call a 5 pm start) the Caps will head down to Carolina to face the Hurricanes for the sixth of eight meetings this season. The Caps have won only two of the five previous meetings with Canes this season and both of those wins came on home ice. The Caps have been outscored 9-3 in the two games in Raleigh this season and lost the last game which was at home two weeks ago, 2-1. Want more bad news? The Canes are on a 4-2 run including a 5-1 run on home ice to open up a four point lead on the Caps in the Southeast Division. In their last game, the Canes dispatched the Atlanta Thrashers on home ice 5-3 on Thursday night.

What The Natives Are Saying:

Caps.com. Times. Caps.com.

Neutral Views:

NHL.com AP Wire.

Open Source Intelligence:

Durham Herald-Sun. Raleigh News & Observer: no clue, Eye on the Canes.

What Do I Expect Today/ This Afternoon/Tonight?:

Bruce Boudreau and Olie Kolzig are right, this is the biggest game of the year. How do we know? The Durham Herald-Sun wrote it up on the weekend. This game is a MUST WIN. The math could still work in the Caps favor should they lose tonight; there will be two games head-to-head against Carolina left on the schedule and the Caps will have three games in hand to "make up" the six point deficit. But any kind of loss tonight will force the Caps to be perfect for the remainder of the season. And not only is this game a MUST WIN, it is a MUST WIN IN REGULATION. The Caps MUST come out of this game only two points back of the Canes. However, the Caps have had trouble winning in regulation recently, four of their last seven wins have come in either overtime or with the gimmick. The Caps have not defeated an opponent by more than one goal since a 5-3 win over the Florida Panthers on January 19th. When these two teams met two weeks ago, the Canes gave the Caps a rude introduction to NHL Playoff Hockey. I wouldn't expect any less from the Canes tonight so the Caps will have to show that they can match it on the road. The Caps will also need to take full advantage of the Canes pathetic Penalty Killing if they want to have a chance to win this game. Though of special note, the Caps have only beaten the Canes when my Sainted Mother has been in attendance. Unfortunately for the Caps, she isn't joining the hundreds of Caps fans making the trip to Raleigh today as she is now back "home" three time zones away and isn't scheduled to be back in town until late May.

Caps Nut Official Prediction:

Caps 2
Canes 5
Winner by Staal

(31-29 on the season)

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