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One Last Run - Canes Hit the Home Stretch

The Hurricanes get ready to begin the final part of their schedule with all of their remaining 8 games of the regular season against division opponents. They have 2 games left each against Florida, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, and Washington, with 4 at home and 4 away. The Capitals beat Nashville last night narrowing Carolina's division lead to a mere 3 points. But the bottom line is that if the Canes can win more than they lose during these final 8 games, they should be able to win the division.

Obviously, Tampa Bay and Atlanta are out of any contention except to see who might come in last place. You might think that those would be easy games, but they would love to play spoiler, so those contests can't be overlooked. Florida and Washington are fighting tooth and nail for a coveted playoff position. They both are playing desperate hockey and will be tough outs. Still, if Carolina can keep focus and continue playing the way that they have during the last month, they should prevail. I'm sure that it won't be easy though.

The final quest for the playoffs starts tonight in Atlanta. I'll have more about the game after lunch.

In my most recent poll, I asked how readers felt about asking Anton Babchuk to come to training camp next year. Several more of you said no than said yes, with about a 55%-45% split. In my opinion, I would ask him to come to camp. First of all, he has got zero value for the team if he stays in Russia again next year. If he comes here and plays well in the preseason, at the very least he might build some trade value.

Maybe if he plays well enough and has a good attitude, he might even be able to make the team again. I'm not sure how much of a bad taste he left in management's mouth though. But time heals all wounds, and it wouldn't shock me to see him return. After they banished Arturs Irbe to the Johnstown Chiefs, I didn't think I would ever see him in the RBC Center again either.

He didn't leave under bad terms, but Jeff Hamilton was shipped out of town and told to get an apartment up in Albany. The forward, who is under contract through next year for 800K, was needed back at home base though because of all the recent injuries. The question was, would "Hammy" clear waivers a 2nd time, or would be be picked up for a bargain half price ala Sergei Samsonov?

The answer one picked him up. Wow, he's not even worth 400K to any other team in the league? That has to do wonders for his confidence. All Jeff can do now is to try even harder on the ice the next chance he gets.

Pre-game musings later......