Friday, February 08, 2008

Caps vs. Hurricanes 2-8-2008 Preview

Washington Capitals (26-29; 57 points; 1st Southeast Division, 3rd Eastern Conference, 19th Overall) vs. Carolina Hurricanes (26-30; 56 points; 2nd Southeast Division, 10th Eastern Conference, 21st Overall):
Caps Game #56, Home Game #28, NHL Game #828

Verizon Center, Washington, D.C. 7:08 pm. Washington TV: Comcast Sportsnet Mid-Atlantic. Radio: WWWT 1500-AM, 107.7-FM. Carolina TV: Fox SportsNet South. Radio: WCNC 99.9-FM. NHL Center Ice: Comcast Sportsnet Mid-Atlantic feed.

Tonight the Caps host (for the moment at least) their biggest rival for the Southeast Division lead to begin a stretch of four divisional opponents in five games with tonight's game being the only divisional game of that stretch at home. The Caps and Canes are meeting for the fifth time this season and third time at the Phone Booth with the home team holding serve all season. The Canes are a banged up squad right now which explains why they've fallen out of first place in the Southeast Division. They've lost their last two games, most recently a 1-0 setback in Nashville on Tuesday night and have just one win in their last five road games.

What The Natives Are Saying:

(Com)Post: top of the pile, Caps Report. Times. Caps.com.

Neutral Views:

NHL.com AP Wire.

Open Source Intelligence:

Raleigh News & Observer: TV production, TV deal, Eye on the Canes, minor trade.

What Do I Expect Tonight?:

Ranking the importance of this game on a scale of 1-10 I would rate it at about a 6, maybe a 6.5. A win tonight would certainly help but a loss tonight would not be totally devastating. The magic number entering tonight is 51 and after tonight's game we'll still have three games remaining against the Canes. The important thing is that the next two of those three will be in Carolina. So while the Caps need to win tonight, it doesn't qualify as a "must" win. Now if the Caps are one point up on the Canes on April 1st when they meet for the final time this season in the Phone Booth, then it will be an 11 but not tonight. The Caps are playing their third game in four nights in their third different city, but at least the game tonight is at home. The Canes have had issues on the road and scoring goals recently. The sooner the Caps can get out to a lead tonight, the better off they'll be and we need to stop letting teams back into games. The Canes have the worst Penalty Killing in the NHL so maybe "our problem" can find some answers tonight. Any win by the Caps tonight will only decrease the magic number to 48.

Caps Nut Official Prediction:

Caps 5
Canes 2
Winner by Semin

(29-26 on the season)

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