With 2 losses in a row and 4 losses in the past 5 games, the Carolina Hurricanes are as cold as they have been since the start of the season. On the other hand, the Tampa Bay Lightning are red hot having won 8 out of their last 10, although 4 of those 8 wins were by shoot out. It just goes to show what a fine line there is between winning and losing in this league at times. One of those shoot out wins was against the Canes recently in a game that I thought Carolina deserved to win.
I've called out a couple of players lately, like Cory Stillman and Erik Cole. They haven't looked like themselves the past couple of weeks. As it turns out it seems they both have been playing through injuries. Cole actually was scratched at the last minute on Tuesday with a lower body concern. Cory is reportedly fighting a bruised sternum. Obviously, Rod Brind'Amour has been hurting for at least the past month now. Maybe these guys should take some time off and get healthy rather than trying to play at 80-90%, hoping they will feel better eventually? If the losing streak continues, my bet would be that we will see some call ups from Albany sooner rather than later.
I also called out Lavi after the last shoot out loss, wondering why he selected the Canes to shoot first. I was thinking that put more pressure on the Canes. Statistically speaking, I couldn't have been more wrong. I read an article in USA Today indicating that the team who scored first in a shoot out this year, won 86% of the time! Last year the same stat was 80%. Obviously if you want to score first, then you should shoot first. Laviolette was playing the odds properly, the Canes just need to start making some shots.
Tonight's game is pivotal. The Lightning could bump the Hurricanes out of 2nd place in the division with a win. There are several teams knocking on the door ready to push them out of their precocious 6th spot in the conference. All of those teams have games in hand, so these next few games will mean a lot. Hopefully the crowd will be juiced up and can help the boys play to their potential. Hopefully the boys will start playing with the same urgency and intensity that their recent opponents have. Erik Cole is listed as day to day and may or may not play tonight. Kaberle and Hedican definitely will not play. Cam Ward played an excellent game on Tuesday night, so I would guess he'll still be in net tonight.
Buckle up, it could be a bumpy ride tonight! Go Canes!