Friday, March 9, 2007

Caps/Hurricanes Preview

Carolina Hurricanes (33-28-7, 73 points)
Washington Capitals (24-31-12, 60 points)

Television: Comcast SportsNet
Radio: WTNT 570-AM
Gametime: 7:30 PM ET

Friday, March 9, 2007

The Caps have a chance to play the role of spoiler tonight as they host their division rivals, the Carolina Hurricanes. The defending Stanley Cup champions are on the outside looking in as the tight for the final playoff positions in the Eastern Conference heats up. The Hurricanes find themselves tied with the New York Rangers and the Toronto Maple Leafs for 8th place but would currently lose a tiebreaker to the Rangers.

Fatigue should not be a factor for both clubs heading into the matchup. Carolina has not played since they fell to the Thrashers 3-1 last Sunday in Atlanta, while the Caps have had 2 days off to think about their loss Tuesday night in Toronto.

Washington should get a much needed boost to their lineup as their captain Chris Clark and checking line specialist Boyd Gordon have both been cleared to play. Clark has missed the last six games with a sprained shoulder while Gordon missed the last 2 with a sore knee. The team is still without their franchise goaltender Olie Kolzig and winger Matt Pettinger, although Tarik El-Bashir of the Washington Post had reported that Kolzig was supposed to have practiced today, taking shots for the first time since his injury. No report on whether or not that did occur.

The game will mark the last meeting of the season between these two teams at the Verizon Center. They'll still play once more at Carolina on the 22nd of March. They're last meeting was a 7-3 drubbing by the Capitals on January 27th thanks to 2 goals by Alexander Semin and Eric Fehr's 1st career NHL goal. That came just one day after the Hurricanes beat up the Caps in Raleigh 6-2 in the first game after the all-star break.

While Carolina will most likely be without left wing Ray Whitney and defenseman Bret Hedican with lower body injuries, they should get winger Eric Cole back after he was activated from the disabled list yesterday. Cole has missed the past seven games with multiple hip injuries, first a contusion then a torn muscle. His 25 goals and 26 assists will be a another offensive weapon for the Capitals to deal with.

Down on the Farm:

The South Carolina Stingrays came up with a big victory over the Charlotte Checkers on the road last night. The 6-2 moves the Stingrays just two points behind Charlotte in the battle for the fifth and final playoff position in the South Division. The Stingrays got 2 goals from Chris Chaput and 3 assists from Peter Szabo to pace the offensive attack. It was an impressive victory considering how short handed the team currently is thanks to injuries and recent callups. Check out Mike Vogel's blog Dump and Chase for a behind the scenes look at the ECHL franchise as he spends the week with the team.

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