Close call for Canes (Photo Credit: 2006 Paramount Pictures)

Mission Improbable

The Carolina Hurricanes played twelve games in March. The mission: Grab and hold on to the final playoff spot.

Mission not accomplished.

The Canes won half their games this month and currently sit five points behind the Buffalo Sabres. As if the March playoff hunt wasn’t strenuous enough, the month ends with an insane back-to-back with the Caps and Habs.

I doubt I need to refresh your memory, but our record with these teams has been less than impressive this season. Canes have failed to defeat either lineup. Hurricanes lost all five contests with the Washington Capitals, including a shutout by goalie Michael Neavirth. Canes are also 0-for-3 against the Montreal Canadiens.

Truly, we need to gain victories over each of these teams in about a 24-hour time span. {Insert hysterical send-me-to-the-funny-farm laughter here}

The gladiator-intense battle commences Tuesday evening in the nation’s capital. Caps’ weapons include Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. Collectively these teammates earned 13 points while playing the Canes. Ovechkin has two goals and six assists over the five previous contests, and Backstrom has four goals and one assist.

The good news…Ovechkin has been out with an undisclosed injury. The captain is rumored to skate in practice on Monday, but not assumed to play in Tuesday’s game. I will not miss him if he sits out.

Our sharpest defense in the past has been Tuomu Ruutu with four points that include two goals and two assists. Eric Staal managed two goals and an assist previously, and Jussi Jokinen claimed a goal and two assists. Erik Cole has collected five points in four games. A continuation of that streak would add some much-needed support.

Canes defense must be intolerant in Washington. Hesitation cannot freeze the sticks of reliable players. Every game must be played like the last, because…well, really…that is the scenario.

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