Is there anything better than baseball's Opening Day? Sure - Day 181 of the NHL season, for one. And what could be more exciting than the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship game? How about the Red Wings visiting the Flames? But I digress...
For the third time in ten days the Caps will play the Hurricanes in Raleigh as Washington's longest road trip of the season comes to a close. Considering that the trip began with a loss to Florida to extend a season-long losing skid to eight games, anything short of disaster tonight and the stretch will qualify as near miraculous as the Caps are guaranteed a winning record (3-1-2 heading into Monday's game) and have already beaten the top two teams in the East three times (Ottawa once, Carolina twice) on the trip. Unfortunately, even if the Caps can win tonight and take a 3-0 lead in the five-game mini-series against the 'Canes, they'll still have to play Carolina back at the Verizon Center on Wednesday and Thursday nights. So much for a "best-of-five" format.
Thread of the Day: Johnson For Regular Starter? (Brent Johnson has stopped 95 of the last 96 shots he's seen - is there a goalie controversy in Washington? Uh, no.)
Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:
- Happy 61st Birthday to Hall-of-Famer Bernie Parent and Happy 72nd Birthday to John Muckler (I'm pretty sure I know what Muckler wants for his birthday).
- According to TSN.ca, the Islanders haven't scored an even-strength goal in 265 minutes and 37 seconds of game time. For those of you who are not mathematically-inclined, that's more than 13 periods. For those of you who are really slow, that's more than 4 full games. Brutal.
- Hart: Brian Gionta (Game-tying assist with 20 seconds left in regulation, game-winning goal in OT)
- Ross: 14 players tied with 2 points each
- Norris: Francois Beauchemin (Game-winning goal, assist, +2)
- Vezina: Robert Esche (Win, 30 saves on 31 shots against)
- Richard: Samuel Pahlsson, Teemu Selanne (2 goals each)
- Calder: Ryan Getzlaf (Goal, assist)
- Aiken: Alex Auld (Loss, 4 goals against on 23 shots in 29:56 before being pulled)