The Carolina Hurricanes are in the District of Columbia to do battle with the Washington Capitals tonight in what could be the first of many clashes for first place in the Southeast Division. This game might very well set a tone for the rest of the season as both teams should be wanting to send a message to the other one.
It's been announced that Brent Johnson will start in net for the Caps, much to the dismay of the classy Olaf Kolzig who refuses to question the decision in the media. I am assuming that Cam Ward will start for the Canes, but I will try to confirm that before gametime.
There has been no word of a recall to Brandon Nolan, so I am again assuming that Jeff Hamilton will get the start along with Keith Aucoin, in place of injured Chad LaRose. Matt Cullen has reportedly taken to the ice again, but is still not ready for prime time.
John Forslund makes an excellent point in his most recent blog posting....
The Hurricanes are falling into a dangerous "trap". They are almost trying to convince themselves that they are playing well. The last two games can easily put you in that mindset. The Hurricanes, in their losses against Pittsburgh and Nashville, have done many things well. First of all, they have been in position to win both hockey games in the late stages, which at this time of the year is a good thing....
Playing well but still losing isn't going to put the team in the playoffs. They have to figure out how to push themselves to the next level. It won't be easy against these Capitals, who have been one of the best teams in hockey the past couple of months with a record of 20-10-4 during that stretch.
I will not be posting my typical lunchtime rant today, I'll be on the road traveling up to watch this game first hand. I'm also very pleased to announce that thanks to the Capitals and Hurricanes media relations people, I will be watching this contest from press row. Can you believe that I was actually granted something that Pat LaFontaine wasn't? I wonder what Brian Burke did to upset the Islanders crew? They refused his personal request to allow the Hall of Famer in the press box. Perhaps he ridiculed the blogger's box?
Anyway, most of you who follow the blog know that this is something that I have wanted and pursued for awhile. It actually stems from a yearning that I have had long before I ever started blogging, but I won't get into sappy details right now. I'm bringing my laptop, so hopefully I will be able to post current information with perhaps a different perspective than just my typical observations. I may even get ambitious and make a few posts during the game. Either way, I will write a small book about my experience upon my return.
This is the first of a back to back for Carolina as they have to fly just up the interstate after this game to take on the Devils on Saturday night. I doubt that they will be looking ahead to New Jersey though since the Caps are the ones who are 1 point ahead of them and currently keeping them out of the playoffs. It should be a great one tonight. TGIF!