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No More, No More - Lightning at Hurricanes Pre-Game

Momentum is a fragile thing in sports. One game you have it and nothing can go wrong, then the next game it seems like the complete opposite is true. After 6 weeks of being one of the hottest teams in the NHL and riding plenty of momentum, presently the Canes have been on a downswing, losing 3 of their last 4 games. They need to change things around very quickly if they want to keep playing hockey next week.

As everyone is probably aware, if Carolina wins their next two home games they will win their division and qualify for the playoffs. If they can not win both of these games, things get very complicated and nothing is assured.

John Forslund is reporting that Matt Cullen is ready to play tonight and will be centering a new line. Will this turn into another fiasco like last night? Here's a question....

Can players jump into crucial game situations after a long absence and no practice and be expected to perform at a top level? If last night is any indication, the answer is a flat out no.

Ray Whitney will play again tonight but as expected Justin Williams is out with a bad back.

Look for tonight's lineup to look something like this....

  • Staal-Cole-Whitney

  • Aucoin-Walker-Bayda

  • Cullen-Samsonov-Ruutu

  • Letowski-Brookbank-LaRose

  • Hedican-Gleason

  • Corvo-Kaberle

  • Wesley-Wallin

Cam Ward will make his 20th 19th consecutive start in goal. Supposedly Mike Smith will get the nod for Tampa Bay even though Karri Ramo stymied the Canes last week.

Just one more word about last night's debacle and we will move on. Most of you who frequent this blog know that I rarely carry-on about officials. Brad Watson is the exception, and he will continue to be an exception as long as he keeps making suspicious, oddball calls. Even Chuck Kaiton talked about Watson on his broadcast and questioned his "ongoing problem with this franchise." If a Hall of Fame broadcaster can complain about the fraud, I don't think I am that far off base with my comments.

But, now it's time to forget about last night and worry about tonight. Has this team run out of gas? Will the last minute replacements be a benefit or a setback? Has Cam Ward got anything left after playing so many games in a row?

The answer my friends is blowin' in the wind. Gametime starting at 7 in the RBC tonight.