Monday, March 2, 2009

Pre-Cap: Capitals vs. Hurricanes

"We're all about teaching the kids, and we have to watch that we don't start acting like those goofy soccer guys."
As you can see, Sami Lepisto is horribly offended by Eric Staal's trademark "wide-open scream" celebration.

Washington Capitals (40-19-5, first in SE, third in EC)
Carolina Hurricanes (32-27-5, third in SE, 10th in EC)

Perhaps they were playing down. Or maybe the Caps were dead-tired after a thrilling game in Boston. Maybe they were knocked out of their system early or maybe it was the ice. Oh, how about the officiating!

The truth is, the Florida Panthers beat the tar out of a Capitals team that gave up before it was ever over. We're all accustomed to the phrase "statement game." Well, one of those just happened and, with Carolina in waiting, the Capitals can't allow another "statement game" to occur on home ice.

The Hurricanes enter tonight's game after a defeat at the hands of Ilya Kovalchuk and the Thrashers. Sitting one point out of a playoff slot, and after missing the playoffs by one game last season; it's do or die for the Canes. If the Canes want to stay in the playoff race, they have to win these "four-point games."

Leading the Canes offense is Eric Staal. Staal hasn't had the usual production he has seen against the Capitals this year; in the three games played between the two clubs, he has only one goal. While he does have 27 goals on the year, recently he's been dishing them to teammates rather than lighting the lamp. With only one goal in his last five games, he's poised to break out, but he's earned four assists in those last five games.

While shutting down the likes of Eric Staal, Sergei Samsonov and Matt Cullen, the Capitals will want to put the pressure on the Canes' penalty kill. Carolina is 24th in the league on the PK with a 79.2 kill percentage.

The only problem is that Carolina is the stingiest team in the league when it comes to penalties. Averaging only 9.8 penalty minutes a game the Capitals high-flying power play needs to bury the Canes under a lead built upon power play goals.

The Southeast Division was a lock on Sunday, and the Capitals didn't get the job done. It's unlikely that the Canes or Panthers will make a run to steal the title from the Caps, although a date in the first round is not going to be a cakewalk, as the Panthers proved Sunday.

"Here's the pitch, it's like STOMP, but on ICE!"
The Canes make some beatbox noises on the ice with their sticks. Clever, but why do I think the Caps could do it better?

NHL players showing some personality! Blasphemy!
Eric Staal and Ottawa's Dany Heatley in a funny spot for the NHL. This is what we need more of, players being themselves, not robotic question-answering machines.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Technorati Profile