The Carolina Hurricanes, (40-30-11) have played several important games in the last month or so, but the most important of them all is coming tonight as they take on the Tampa Bay Lightning, (45-25-11) at the RBC.
The stage has been set.
The New York Rangers defeated the New Jersey Devils this afternoon, forcing the Hurricanes into a must-win scenario. It all comes down to this. If the Hurricanes win, they are in the playoffs and will face the top-seeded Washington Capitals in round one. If they lose, it's another long summer.
The Canes should be feeling confident as they are coming off a dominant 6-1 win at Atlanta last night. The team is 5-0-1 in their last six games and 8-1-1 in their last 10.
Tampa Bay really has nothing of substance to play for because they have already clinched their spot. But don't fool yourselves. These players have a lot of pride and the Lightning would love nothing more than to be spoilers tonight.
They are a very respectable 6-3-1 in their last 10 games, including a 4-2 win at the RBC over this same Canes team. That loss was the last time that Carolina has lost a game in regulation. The win put the Lightning on a bit of a roll themselves as they have gone 6-1-0 in their last seven games.
Look for the Hurricanes to keep their same lineup as in recent games.
- Stillman, Staal, Cole
- Skinner, Ruutu, Jokinen
- LaRose, Sutter, Bowman
- Tlusty, Dwyer, Samson
- Gleason, Corvo
- Pitkanen, McBain
- Joslin, Allen
Cam Ward will make his 16th consecutive start and his career best and league high, 74th start of the season.
|2010 - Cam Ward||73||4259||37||25||180||2.54||2342||2162||.923||4|
Will he face Mike Smith or Dwayne Roloson? I have not seen an official announcement, but Roloson played last night, so I would expect to see Smith.
|2010 - Dwayne Roloson||54||3199||24||25||138||2.59||1596||1458||.914||4|
|2010 - Mike Smith||21||1142||12||6||56||2.94||532||476||.895||1|
For those of you hoping that the Lightning will ice a team of AHL players tonight, forget about it. I would expect them to be playing most of their regulars and the rest of the league would accept nothing less, (although they could play lesser minutes).
For more roster information, Hockeymom's updated game day guide is ready to go:
Our friends and partners at Raw Charge will have the latest about the Lightning.
So far this season the series between these teams has been an even match. The Canes are 2-2-1 against them. Last year the teams split as each of them posted a 3-2-1 record. But Carolina is 14-5-2 against Tampa in their last 21 games.
Cam Ward is 16-10-2 lifetime against the Bolts.
Martin St. Louis has 66 points in 61 career games against the Canes.
This game of course is the second game of a back-to-back and the Hurricanes have been less then successful at these, (7-11-2). But the Lightning also played last night, (4-2 win over Florida).
This will be huge tonight.
FS Carolinas will have the action starting at 7 and we will have the open game thread cranked up at 6:30.