The Minnesota Wild are in town to tackle the Carolina Hurricanes for the home team's final game against a rival from the Northwest Division this regular season. The Canes are 2-2 against the division so far, with wins over the Oilers and Canucks, but losses to the Avs and Flames. The Wild are currently tied with the Flames for the lead in their division as both teams have 79 points.
Of course the Hurricanes lead their division by a slim 3 points, so this game has equal importance to both franchises. The Hurricanes are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games and are 8-1-1 at home in their last 10. Minnesota is 5-4-1 in their last 10 contests.
This could be a classic matchup of a team who likes to look for offense first against a team which specilaizes in defense. Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire is known for his stifling defensive schemes. The only problem is, sometimes he stifles the offense of his own team as well.
Look for ex-Canes Sean Hill and Eric Belanger to be fired up playing in front of the Raleigh crowd once again, but for opposite reasons. Hill had his best years here, Belanger possibly his worst, (partial) season. Bad boys, Chris "Simple" Simon and Derek "Boogeyman" Boogard are both unlikely to play tonight.
The Hurricanes can be expected to play the same lineup as last night, with a couple of possible exceptions. Dennis Seidenberg was re-activated and could sub for Bret Hedican, who has been playing with nagging leg and hip issues. Also, John Grahame could give Cam Ward a break, since this is the 2nd game on consecutive nights. Ward might not necessarily need a break, but blogger conventional wisdom would dictate that your backup goalie needs to see some action at some point, unless you are on the Devils. (blogger conventional wisdom = unofficial conventional wisdom.)
Gametime is at 7 and it will be broadcast on FSN.
PS...There is a new blog called "Puck That Hit" which presently has a survey up where you can vote for the cutest Ice Girls in the league. I just got an email from a blogger there teasing me that the Carolina Girls need some help. If you have a chance you might want to drop by and vote for the Storm Squad. Cheers!