Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Caps vs. Canes 3-10-2009 Preview

Washington Capitals (44-22; 97 points; 1st Southeast Division, 1st Eastern Conference, 1st Overall) vs. Carolina Hurricanes (27-38; 61 points; 5th Southeast Division, 13th Eastern Conference, 27th Overall):
Caps Game #67, Home Game #33, NHL Game #987

Caps "Magic Numbers" (Caps Points Earned+Lost by team named) to clinch:
Playoff Spot: 3 Atlanta and Montreal (3 of 7 eliminated)

Southeast Division Championship: 3 Atlanta (1 of 4 eliminated)
Eastern Conference #1 Seed: 19 Pittsburgh (3 of 14 eliminated)
President's Trophy: 30 San Jose (5 of 29 eliminated)

Verizon Center, Washington, D.C. 7:07 pm. Washington TV: Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic. Radio: WFED 1500-AM. Carolina TV: Fox Sportsnet Carolina. Radio: WCMC 99.9-FM.  U.S. National TV: NHL Network (Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic feed).  Canadian National TV: RIS (French). NHL Center Ice: None.

Tonight, the Caps homestand rolls along as the Caps face the last team to come into the Phone Booth and pull off a regulation win, the Carolina Hurricanes.  This is the fourth meeting between the teams this season and the Caps won the first two before falling 6-3 in the last matchup on December 28th, 2009.  The Caps and Canes will meet three times in the next 16 days to finish off the season series with the next two coming in Raleigh.  With nothing left to play for but pride, the Canes have finally found their stride and have started the long slow climb up the standings.  They currently sit 13th in the Eastern Conference as opposed to 15th which is where they were for most of the season and now are just 3 points back of the Florida Panthers for 4th place in the Southeast Division.  The Canes were hot heading into the Olympic Break, winning their last five games, and maintained their momentum after the break, winning their first two games.  The seven game winning streak came to an end on Saturday night with a 4-1 loss at Florida to the Panthers.  But the Canes rebounded in their most recent game on Sunday night with a 4-0 win over the Thrashers in Atlanta.

What The Natives Are Saying:

(Com)Post.  Examiner.

Neutral Views: AP Wire.

Open Source Intelligence:

Raleigh News & Observer.

What Do We Expect Tonight?:

Maybe it was a good thing that the Caps ended up with a loss on Monday night because the loss should cause the Caps to refocus and take the Canes a little more seriously than they likely would have if they had pulled out a win on Monday night.  And make no mistake, the Canes are a team that the Caps have to take seriously because they have been playing better hockey lately and, while pretty much out of it for this season, are making a late run up the standings, ruining their chances in the draft lottery.  But for the Caps to win tonight, they're going to need more than just an improved Penalty Killing unit.  They'll need to get their offense in gear as the Canes have allowed more than one goal only once since the Olympic Break and that was in their loss on Saturday night.  Before the season started, we thought that Carolina was a playoff caliber team and the Caps closest competitor in the Southeast Division.  Now that the Canes have finally gotten their game going, they can provide the Caps with a stiff test before the playoffs start as the Caps have just seven of their last 16 games against teams currently in the playoffs.  But while Carolina can provide a stiff test, it should be one that the Caps can easily pass, especially on home ice.

Caps Nut Official Prediction:

Caps 4
Canes 2
Winner by Corvo
(35-31 on the season with one perfect game)



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