Nothing says love like seeing Tom Wilson on Valentine’s Day.
The Carolina Hurricanes and Washington Capitals only play three times this season thanks to the schedule juggling that resulted from needing to cleave out a home-and-away with the Seattle Kraken. Oddly, those three games will all be on different sheets of ice, and tonight’s game is the Canes’ only visit to Washington this season (at least in the regular season).
While everyone’s attention is turned to the three-day showcase that begins Thursday with the Hall of Fame induction for Cam Ward and culminates with the main event at Carter-Finley on Saturday, this one-game trip to Washington is special in its own way for the players. Tonight’s game is the annual dad’s trip, and while most of them will hang around through the weekend, this annual trip is always a highlight of the players’ season and a chance to spend time with people who spent way too much time at much less swanky rinks in years gone by.
And with the disappointment of Saturday’s egg laying at the feet of Artemi Panarin still lingering, it’s a great chance to get things turned around in a place where the Canes still have very good collective memories of years gone by.
- There’s something about the Canes and Caps playing on holidays that feature copious amounts of candy. The last time they met was on Halloween at PNC Arena, and those who skipped trick or treating were, um, treated to a 3-2 Canes shootout win.
- Brady Skjei hits the 500-game milestone tonight. It’s hard to believe that more than a third of those games — 193, including tonight — have come with the Hurricanes. Skjei is the 11th defenseman from the 2012 draft to reach 500 games.
- The Canes don’t play often on Valentine’s Day, but when they do, things generally don’t go well. It’s been 23 years since their last road win on February 14. I don’t know why you needed to know this, but now you do. You’re welcome.
- Antti Raanta, who will probably get the start tonight after Frederik Andersen had a night to forget against the Rangers, is on the verge of history. He has a personal 12-game point streak going, and if he earns a point tonight, he’ll break the club record for most games with a point, which he currently shares with the aforementioned Ward. Might as well get it out of the way tonight so as to not upstage Ward on Thursday, right?
(A very brief) Storm Advisory
- Finally, we have some details on the Stadium Series goings-on, and they’re pretty freaking sweet. Check out Kurt Dusterberg’s story, but here are some of the details from the NHL press release, in what sounds for all the world like the NHL meets College Gameday:
In a first for an NHL outdoor game, NC State students in attendance will enjoy the entirety of the game from the field. In a fan zone on the south side of the stadium, the students and ESPN’s broadcast set will have front row seats to the Hurricanes-Capitals matchup and a first intermission musical performance on the NHL stage. The headline performer will be announced in the coming days.
NC State’s marching band, the Power Sound of the South, and leaders will entertain fans throughout the game from the north side of the stadium, including a performance during the second intermission. The Power Sound of the South also will lead pregame festivities with a performance during the Hurricanes’ and Capitals’ player introductions.
The opening ceremony will formally begin with a performance of the U.S. national anthem by the Power Sound of the South. American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation will be provided as part of the NHL’s season-long partnership with P-X-P. Founder and CEO of P-X-P Brice Christianson will serve as ASL interpreter and Jason Altmann will serve as the ASL performer. NC State Joint ROTC Color Guard will present colors, while 60 veterans from the NFCU Veterans Showcase will be on skates to unfurl the U.S. flag.
Ripken The Bat Dog, of NC State football and Durham Bulls fame, will lead the ceremonial puck drop. Erik Cole, Mike Commodore and Chad LaRose from the Hurricanes’ 2006 Stanley Cup championship team will sound the storm siren to conclude the opening festivities.
- And here’s a rendering of the stadium, from the NHL: