Tonight the Caps face off against the Carolina Hurricanes. With 6 games left, the Caps are very much in the hunt for the playoffs but have little room for error. The Caps most likely can only afford one loss and tonight is arguably their hardest game left.
RBC Center has not been kind to the Caps this year. They have lost 3 times, 2 blow outs and a game that they honestly should have won. That game was a late November tilt where two Caps goals were waived off and a high stick Canes goal was allowed.
But it's more then the ice on which they skate, the Caps have only beat the Canes twice this year. An opening night shut out and a Powerplay driven victory in November (that was Coach B's first win at the Phone Booth).
The Canes have been one of the best teams in the league for over a month now. They have faced much adversity by losing many of their players but have still won which has made them even more impressive.
They are fast, their Powerplay is excellent, and they know how to win. They are also very rested having last played on Thursday night.
You could say this game means more to the Caps but with a win tonight the Canes can pretty much close the division out for themselves; a fact that Coach B is well aware of.
"We don't really care [how we get in]," Boudreau said. "It doesn't matter. I know [Carolina] is going to want to win because they can pretty much clinch the division if they win tomorrow night. That will be big motivating factor for them, and we want to deny that."
The Caps have not played well the last 4 games and have won 3 of them. These were games against mediocre and bad teams. I do not count the Canes as mediocre or bad. The Caps need a full 60 minutes. They have to play smart and stay out of the box.
The Caps should be inspired and fired up by their 3rd period come back in Atlanta Friday night. They are also getting Brashear back to help with the physicality.
As far as the line up it looks like Fehr has earned himself a spot on the second line, Flash will be on the third line, Erskine will still be out and Huet will be in net.
Another factor is Huet's first game vs the Canes this year. In Montreal this season he is 2-1 against them.
I am not sure what to expect. Obviously winning their hardest game left on the first part of this trip would be huge. It would also keep the Division Title possible (although unlikely).
Although a loss tonight for the Caps wouldn't eliminate them, keep this in mind.
If the Caps lose tonight:
- A Philly win pulls them to a 6 point lead over the Caps.
- A Boston win pulls them to a 4 point lead with a game in hand on the Caps.
Tough leads to overcome with a handful of games left.
I will be at the RBC Center tonight in Section 118, come see me if anyone is down here for the game. I'll be the one with the Fleece helmet next to the guy with the mullet.