The Hurricanes want to pick it up and take it to the limit, tonight. They need this game! They'll arrive back home late tonight and won't have another game until Friday night against the Leafs at the RBC. Leave it all on the ice tonight boys!
But there are many unanswered questions before this game even starts. Will Brind'Amour play? Can Stillman play? Who will be in net? The News and Observer is reporting that while both players skated in practice yesterday, they are both game time decisions. Brindy left practice early as a precaution but Cory stayed for the end of practice skating drills. Read into that anyway you want to. Tonight might be a good spot to start John Grahame between the pipes. John is from Colorado and his mom still works in the Avs front office. Players always love the chance to shine in front of their home town. The Canes have yet to beat the Avs since the franchise moved to North Carolina, accumulating a record of 0-10-3. After 13 losses in 10 years, it seems like we are more than due!
Colorado has their fair share of questions themselves. Goalie Jose Theodore has had his ups and downs this year. Considering Theodore's less than stellar past performances against Carolina, will promising rookie Peter Budaj get a shot? Let's face it, the Hurricanes have more or less owned the ex-Habs netminder since the 2002 playoffs when they lit him up early and often. I'm sure Erik Cole will be licking his chops if he sees Jose warming up as the starter at this morning's pre-game skate.
The Avs still have Joe Sakic and Milan Hejduk from their star studded teams which dominated during the pre-salary cap era. It wasn't long ago when they had household names like Peter Forsberg, Rob Blake, Teemu Selanne, Paul Kariya, and Patrick Roy to ensure that they took their annoited spot in the playoffs every year. But now those days of buying your way to success are gone. These days, Colorado must rely on players like Marek Svatos, Tyler Arnason, Andrew Burnette, and John-Michael Liles to help Sakic and Hejduk carry the load. Make sure you keep an eye on rookie Wojtek Wolski. He's special and could be a star in the league sooner rather than later. When the NHL had it's draft here in 2004, he was one of the "highlighted" players at the Reczone during a public meet and greet. The Avs currently find themselves in last place in the Northwest Divison with a 13-14-2 record and have 28 points. Needless to say they need this game too!
Gametime is at 9:30 Eastern and will be on Fox Sports South once again. Let's Go Canes!
UPDATE......Stillman ready to play tonight. Just posted on the News and Observer site.