Does it feel like the 24-27-14 Hurricanes have spent a lot of quality time with the 32-28-5 Washington Capitals? That’s probably because they have. Tonight’s tilt will be the sixth time the teams have met this season. Just because we hang out a lot with the Caps doesn’t make us friends. As divisional rivals, we are more like family members in a bitter feud forced together for weddings and funerals. Cousin Mike may or may not show up depending on how he feels, Uncle Troy and Uncle Justin will get in a scrap and Cousin Ovi will take his toys and go home. Five of these gatherings had Washington coming out on top in the family feud, but in the last two meetings the Canes have blanked out the Caps 3-0 and 5-0, most recently on the 20th of February. Caniacs fondly remember that game as Justin Peter’s first NHL shutout!
This trip up to the District is the start of a five-game road trip for the Canes, while the Caps are in the middle of a five-game home stand. Unfortunately our boys do not excel as road warriors winning only seven road games this season.
The Capitals are coming off a loss last Sunday to the Flyers, while the Canes are coming off Saturday’s heartbreaking loss
robbery against the Lightning. If you are a glutton for punishment and want to relive that call, Jennifer has some final thoughts for you. I am hoping that the ending of the Tampa Bay game left our Hurricanes hungry and wanting a win more than ever. The Capitals are hungry as well to make it into the playoffs as they are currently in the eighth spot behind those pesky Winnipeg Jets. The Hurricanes are in fourteenth (it’s still not 15th!) leading the Habs by two points and trailing this season’s surprising stumbling block, the Islanders, by three.
The lines will look a little different tonight as the Canes welcome back energy player Patrick Dwyer to his place on the checking line with Brandon Sutter and Andreas Nodl. I have missed the energy he brings to that line, but probably not as much as Mr. Sutter. Drayson Bowman is a guest this week on “Joni’s Medical Mystery Theatre” sitting out with an “upper body injury” which has morphed from an initial report of issues with “sinuses.” The team is getting creative with their injuries and I expect someone to come down with conjunctivitis or Legionnaires’ Disease at any time. Tuomo Ruutu is still out with his upper body injury along with Pitkanen who remains on injured reserve.
The official lines and depth charts are on the official Hurricanes website, and currently have Anthony Stewart on the Staal line where he finished the game on Saturday. Derek Joslin is still slotted in at forward on the fourth.
Workhorse goalie Cam Ward is back in action and it appears that he will be in goal with Brian Boucher on standby. Tomas Vokoun returned to practice with the Capitals but I have not seen official word on whether he or Michal Neuvirth will get the start.
In terms of scoring, the Caps leader in goals and points is still Alexander Ovechkin with 26 goals, 23 helpers and 49 points. It’s surprising since the captain only has 3 goals in the last 10 games. The Capitals are desperately missing Nicklas Backstrom who has been sidelined with a concussion since January 3rd. He is currently spending time with family and recovering in his native Sweden. In his absence the team has needed an extra push from Alexander Semin who has 17 goals, 24 helpers and 41 points. I do not have any current line reports for the Caps and they have been unpredictable with coach Dale Hunter often sitting veterans like Mike Knuble. On the Canes’ side of the family Eric Staal continues streaking (You know how those Staal boys are) and has points in the last 11 games with 7 goals and 13 points. Don’t stop streaking Eric!
7:00pm is the time to play the feud! Join John and Tripp on Fox Sports South or Chuck Kaiton on the radio at 99.9 the Fan. It’s time for the Canes to turn around their misfortunes on the road and pick up some points. Capitals Outsider has more information about our opponents.
Updated 4:43PM: The Capitals are reporting on Twitter that Neuvirth will get the start.
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