Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Tuesday Roundup/Gamenight: 'Canes @ Caps

[AP Preview - WashingtonCaps.com Preview]

Fact #1: The Carolina Hurricanes have had more power play opportunities than any other team in hockey, and by a country mile (their margin in extra man chances over the second-place Red Wings is the same as the margin between the Wings and 14th place Calgary).

Fact #2: Not everyone is impressed with the methods used in arriving at Fact #1.

Last week we shared Lindy Ruff's thoughts on the matter and reminisced about Jacques Martin's. A few days later, and you can add the always diplomatic and reserved John Tortorella to the growing list of folks who have a problem with the way Carolina plays the game:
"I've never seen a team go down so much in my life," Lightning coach John Tortorella said. "They lead the league in power plays for some reason and I've got a pretty good idea what it is. It gets to be pretty embarrassing."
I guess we know who Torts is rooting against this week, and I'd be willing to bet a sawbuck that it took every ounce of restraint in his leathery body not to throw a choice simile out there to drive home that first sentence.

But whether or not the 'Canes are a squad full of divers is largely irrelevant. This is not 'Nam. This is bowling. There are rules. And as long as NHL officials keep rewarding a certain style of play, that style of play is going to continue.

Which brings us to tonight, which is as big a home game as the Caps have had in nearly half a decade. Win and they're tied with Carolina with a similar-but-much-more-favorable schedule remaining. Lose and, well, it's probably ok to schedule tee times.

And the key to winning for the Caps may very well be in not allowing Erik Cole (second in the League in penalties drawn per sixty minutes of ice time) and friends to skate with the extra man - in the Caps' three wins over Carolina so far this year, they've allowed four, three and four power play opportunities against. In the four losses? Seven, five, five and seven.

Of course, Cristobal Huet gives the Caps a chance to win even if they do run into some discipline problems - he's 8-2-0 with a 1.82 GAA and .931 save percentage since arriving in D.C. But if the Caps can stay out of the box, it's likely game over for Carolina - Huet's GAA and SV% at even strength since coming to town are a staggering 1.04 and .954, respectively, as he hasn't allowed a single even strength goal against in half of his starts as a Cap and has allowed only nine even strength goals overall in ten games.

So break out all your good luck charms and trash talk - tonight's as big as it gets... for now.

Why The Hurricanes Will Win:
"While the Caps have come a long way, they haven't arrived just yet. Many of the Canes have been there and done that, and they will do it one more time tonight. Look for Ray Whitney and Justin Williams to make their long-awaited returns from injury and they will provide more than just inspiration. Canes 3 Caps 2" - Canes Country

"'Cause OV will be all thinking about how his gf smells and because Cam Ward is 4th in the league for wins. - The Sliding Pokecheck

The Canes will come out re-energized with the return of two big guns in Ray Whitney & Justin Williams from injury. If they can simply rely on the things that have carried them this far, they should be able to snub the Caps' momentum. One of those key components is not having to rely on their defense too much. Tim Gleason, who has become a legit top pair defender this season, will be on the ice when AO is skating. A healthy(ish) Bret Hedican will be important too. Cam Ward has been back to near Conn Smythe form but the Canes need to lead in the shots on goal category.

"Should be a great one. It is rather amazing that the Caps have become America's (& Canada's) team to pull for. Although the Canes should win this game, this Caniac is with the majority in hoping to see AO and boys in the postseason... just not at the expense of Carolina." - Carolina On Ice

"Cam Ward has been very solid, Eric Staal has been on fire, and the Canes will get a boost from Justin Williiams, who will return to the lineup after missing 43 games with a bum knee. Added to that, Alexander Ovechkin will be too busy trying to pull an April Fools prank on his mail-order girlfriend to concentrate on the game. The Hurricanes will win the game and end the Caps playoff hopes." - Red and Black Hockey
Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:

The Hockey News ranks the GMs here. I rank the GMs here. Finally, one year ago today we briefly mentioned the elephant in the room and recapped a busy Saturday night of puck talk.

Daily Awards
  • Hart: Chris Drury (Game-winning OT goal, A)
  • Ross: Chris Drury, Jaromir Jagr, Ilya Kovalchuk, Chris Thorburn (2 points each)
  • Norris: Niclas Havelid (+2, 3 BkS)
  • Vezina: Kari Lehtonen (36-save shutout win)
  • Richard: Ilya Kovalchuk (2G)
  • Calder: Ryan Callahan (4 SOG, 8 hits, 2 TkA, GvA, 2 BkS)
  • Aiken: Vincent Lecavalier (0 points, -2)

44 comments:

hotdog88gt said...

From praise to insulting AO's girlfriend. Wow. What a great bunch of Whalercane fans.

maruk said...

It's a league game, Smokey.

Paul Nichols said...

My hatred of Carolina has officially surpassed that of the Penguins.

I'm about to jump out of my skin waiting til tonight! Aarrrgh!

But even with a win, we have to pick up one more point over the last two games than Carolina does, since they've got the tie-breaker.

b.orr4 said...

Caps-Canes is the biggest game of the night, but the second biggest is Canadiens-Sens. If the Sens lose this game at home, I'm predicting the tension in their lockerroom is going to erupt and they won't win again this season. Oh, and thank you to the Rangers for beating the Penguins last night. That loss should motivate the Pens and the Canadiens to play all out for the rest of the season. Not good news for the Flyers.

Brunella said...

Jinx ALERT!!! Gentlemen and JR: Can someone please point me to the "official" playoff schedule/calendar online? Is there one? However rudimentary it may be. Just to get an idea of what it looks like. In a very general way of course. Just wondering. Nothing concrete or definite, naturally.

Anonymous said...

it's funny.....all these teams that complain about the canes are like 3 times slower on the ice than they are. they skate 4 circles around most teams, and especially the florida crying kittens. and what else is there to do for a coach who can't get his bunch of turtles to beat the jackrabbit canes? complain in the media about diving. Good lord...that is just as lame as the diving itself....if that is what is really happening. fact is most of the southeast teams stink and are slow skating excuse looking crybaby whiners with worse coaches., and no coach wants to admit that they just can't keep up with carolina's lines so they call em wimps or whatever. your home teams sux so you look for an excuse for em. and if they are diving...how about keeping your sticks out of their mid sections and teeth and they won't have any reason to go down. it's pathetic.

b.orr4 said...

Hey anonymous, let me guess which team you're rooting for tonight? BTW, the numbers don't lie. Cole and Staal do more diving than Greg Louganis. The good news is Tortorella has made it public, so don't expect to be getting any handouts tonight from the refs.

Anonymous said...

yeah, and Torterella was complaining after THEY WON. Get a clue.

NS said...

Laich is a quote machine. i like this one from Tarik's article:

"We're still looking at Carolina. We've had them in our sights since Bruce got here. They're holding something that we want."

JP said...

@ NS: I like that quote too, but it - like a lot of the coverage of the team - seems to forget that the Caps did, actually, grab first for a brief moment before tanking a bit in early February.

Anonymous said...

you're absolutely right...the numbers don't lie. The all hallowed ovechkin has drawn just as many as staal. 79 or so. but scince he has been on a crappy, losing squad the crapitals, he ain't no diver. the canes meanwhile(stanley cup banner hanging from the rafters and all) must be cheating to be winners. yeah that got to be it. i guess staal dove his way into all star mvp too right? all this doesn't matter...we'll see what's what after tonight. if the canes lose they will go quietly into the night and move on. The craps though......what will they do if they lose? complain. now that is embarrasing.

watch your backs said...

hey idiot anon, why the fuck would he complain about the diving after they won, unless they REALLY WERE diving. get a clue dumbass redneck

bil said...

Two oat sodas, Gary.

watch your backs said...

and youre bringing up all-star mvp as a point of centention, as if that means anything. thats a fucking joke, you really need to get a clue

Spellbound said...

"The craps though......what will they do if they lose? complain. now that is embarrasing."

Must...resist...urge to take easy shot at anon for misspelling "embarrassing."

watch your backs said...

im just surprised that he knows how to use the computer. i didnt think you could get an internet connection in a double wide either

JP said...

Look, the fact that three head coaches have publicly accused Staal and his teammates of diving doesn't mean that they're divers - coaches frequently call out the opposition for embellishing calls (not really, but...).

The fact that they've drawn far more penalties than any other team doesn't mean that they're divers.

Taken as a whole, however...

And Ovechkin has nothing to do with this discussion - find one player or coach who has accused him of diving and you're welcomed to bring him into the conversation. Besides, Semin's our diver.

Anonymous said...

what double wide asshole. I was born and live in pittsburgh pennsylvania. with another kickass first place team. that means you are further south. you are the fucking hick's here. YEEEEEEEEEHAAAAAWWW!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

also....look at these coaches you are talking about. Linda Ruff...well losing the conference finals to the lowly canes probably still has a bad taste. The panthers record against the canes is a friggin joke, and ol' torts is a jerkoff on his way outta tampa.

b.orr4 said...

Pittsburgh??? You're from Pittsburgh? This is an April Fool's joke, right? You're just pretending to be this dumb, aren't you?

b.orr4 said...

BTW, anonymous, do you have capital letters on that keyboard? You know, the big letters?

Anonymous said...

who cares about capital letters. unless you are a computer loser with no life. is that what we are talking about here? correct typing? i thought we were talking shit about hockey.

Daniel said...

I really don't see what arguing with an anonymous guy who's got unpopular opinions is bringing to the table.

I'm worried and excited for tonight all at once.

-d

Ben said...

The Canes do not dive. I watch a LOT of hockey, and the Canes do not do anything that any other team doesn't do. The Southeast teams are just whining because they see the Canes becoming the true power. Ruff is just complaining because thats what he does. He has taken on the role of stirring shit up between Canes/Buffalo fans to keep a rival going because they cant keep up in their own division anymore.

Wabbit Woman said...

"what double wide asshole. I was born and live in pittsburgh pennsylvania."

Well, there you have it! THAT sure explains EVERYTHING!

And to think that Paul said that his hatred of Carolina has officially surpassed that of the Penguins. Think again. Hahahaha.

Scott said...

Haha yeah, you're right Ben - the canes don't dive...they flop. You're right, it's an important distinction.

I guess it would be hard for you to understand how a team would suck and be overrated, given that you're in Duke/NC State/UNC territory...

FAUX RUMORS said...

1) No understatement: The playoffs start tonight. Only right now for the Caps, its a best of ONE!

sheesh said...

thanks for that insight faux. I hadnt quite realized the true ramifications of tonights game until you just put it like that. go ahead, tell the people your prediction.

Dan, Jr. said...

Anonymous sounds quite nervous. Hope he/she/it doesn't use up their supply of Depends over this. As for me, I'm excited, happy and comfortably dry.

FAUX RUMORS said...

1) You're welcome Sheesh. Well since you ask: The key will be the first 10 minutes/scoring first(as with almost all NHL games these days)
2) The Caps can not afford to come out playing tight/flat, but need to take the play to the Canes, as well as of course stay the hell out of the penalty box.

NS said...

the Caps need to skate stride for stride with the Canes. They are simply a faster team, which scares the hell out of me.

That and our D needs to protect Huet's crease. start knocking peeps over, pls.

Anonymous said...

even if washington wins 2nite they could still miss the playoffs all together. so if the canes lose they could still lock up the division. that would have me really ticked off as well. so believe me, the caps are the ones worried not the canes chief.

PPP said...

I wonder if Ruff sees the irony in him calling any other team a bunch of divers. If the Canes are the best proponent of diving now it's probably because they learned a thing or two from the Sabres in 2006.

Go Caps!

dmg said...

I really don't see the point of talking trash about the team you root for. Making fun of players, vouching for your team sure, but essentially smack talk is weird if you're not actually on the team (or a coach or something)...

Anyhow, I'm with JP - that the Canes are being called out by different sources and that they draw a lot of penalties aren't damning by themselves but together (and factoring that they're significantly ahead in penalties drawn) it does raise some eyebrows

NS said...

prediction: Ovechkin's eyes turn red mid-way through the 3rd period, proving that he is in fact a cylon...

...then scores 2, fireworks erupt from his head, and he re-enacts MJ's Thriller dance back to the center dot. sick.

Paul Nichols said...

I'd love to see that NS !! hehe

It all comes down to tonight - a win just gets the Caps "even", meaning they still have to out-point the Canes in the last two.

Perfect scenario - Caps and Canes go in for a bloodbath with the Caps winning, then a TIRED Canes team gets smoked by Tampa Bay tomorrow night.

That would have all of us with a big-ass SMILE on Thursday morning.

Ben said...

Just so you Caps fans know- IF you guys win tonight, the Canes are still the division leaders. We have more wins then you.

Scott- your right. I am an NCState fan. I know exactly what a flop is. Duke and UNC get away with it every day. It makes me about as angry as if someone punched my girlfriend in the face. The Canes dont flop. The Penguins flop. And even if they did embellish and hook... so does everyone else. Maybe not AO, he doesnt need to, but the rest of the Caps do the same thing the Canes do.

Scott said...

Obviously you are a State fan...because even if we win you'll have more wins THAN us.

But at least you didn't go to Carolina or Duke so you have a good excuse...


I'm just kidding with you. I enjoy the friendly trash talk. It's nice to watch a game that matters. Just like you wrangled the SE division from us in the early 2000's, it's time we take back what is rightfully ours.

Even though I hate most of the SE division, it's nice to have developed this rivalry with Carolina.

caniac said...

I really wish all you CAP fans would chill with the "diving" excuses and just face the facts, that the Hurricanes are fast skaters and can draw penalties. So please, stop crying about it and lets play hockey! On that note..im ready to see the CANES dominate tonight!!

GO CANES!!!!!

bigonetimer said...

love the smack talk between fans...it's good for the rivalry after all.

remember where you heard it: Caps win 3-1 tonight!

caniac said...

@ bigonetimer...you may not want to get too ahead of yourself! I predict a storm a coming, and the canes WONT leave empty handed!

Raleigh is ready for the Canes to come back victorious!

sheesh said...

faux i didnt ask what the caps game plan should be, i asked you to repeat youre prediction that carolina will win, on a capitals blog. But youre too much of a pussy i guess

sheesh said...

shows what you know, d-bag(s)

Anonymous said...

JP - nice job on the preview for the game -- 10 penalties for the 'Canes and 2 PPG for the Caps. Although 7 penalties for the Caps is nothing to cheer about either. Most importantly the extra penalties put Carolina on the defense and kept the momentum on Washington's side.