Tonight the Hurricanes need to redeem themselves once again as the Washington Capitals come to town to face Carolina for their 2nd meeting this year. The first time the two teams met in Washington, the Canes forgot to show up and the Capitals outplayed them badly, eventually shutting out the hapless Hurricanes 2-0. John Grahame's outstanding night in net was the only thing that prevented a blowout. Many of the Canes admitted afterwards that they under-estimated the Capitals and were not ready for them. It was the 2nd night of a back to back for both teams, but the Canes obviously had more trouble than Washington did regenerating mentally and physically for the contest. They shouldn't have any trouble getting up for the match tonight!
Rod Brind'Amour is currently tied for the league's lead in assists with 14 and is 5th in the league with a total of 20 points. Justin Williams is next for the Canes with 17 points and Eric Staal has 16. Carolina has had a lot of help from different forwards getting points on the board, as it seems that every game someone else steps up for the team. Even though the team currently leads the Eastern Conference in goals scored, (53), I'm sure that they would like to see more contribution from the defense on the scoresheet. Bret Hedican and Dennis Seidenberg lead the defensemen in scoring with 4 points each. "Offensive" defenseman Frantisek Kaberle has yet to make a statement on offense, contributing just 3 assists so far this season. Last year's defensive scoring leader Mike Commodore has just 2 points. Tim Gleason and Nic Wallin have 1 each while Glen Wesley has yet to dent the scoresheet. While things are going pretty well for the Hurricanes, things could certainly be better. To Hedican's credit, he's not only leading the defense in scoring, he's leading the entire team in plus/minus with a plus 11. But as long as the scoring woes continue for the defense, the trade rumor mill will continue to churn. One might think that they would have more assists just by accident, with all the goals that the forwards score! This group was scoring challenged last year as well though, (last place in the entire league), and nothing has changed so far this year. Does Jim Rutherford pull the trigger on a trade for a new defenseman or not? As long as they keep winning it seems like it would be tough to make a trade, but you never know with JR.
The Canes held a special open practice for season ticketholders early on Sunday, and coach Peter Laviolette spoke with the attendees for a short time after the practice. He tried to put to bed any talk of a goalie controversy and informed everyone that Cam Ward would be starting against the Caps tonight. He also mentioned that he doesn't like using numbers regarding players, such as a first line or second line, or goalie 1 and goalie 2. He plays who he thinks is best for each situation and feels that he has 2 great goalies to choose from. The numbers would seem to back him up, as both goalies' stats are respectable.
The Capitals are coming in on a 2 game losing streak, have lost 4 out their past 5, and 8 out their past 10. They will be looking to right the ship and will be loaded for bear tonight. For a Washington perspective, there are many fine blogs out there including, Japer's Rink, On Frozen Blog, Off Wing Opinion, and a View from the Cheap Seats. If you enjoy trashtalking, drop by the Southeast Shootout and give it your best shot! It should be another good one tonight, see you at the rink.