Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 02/22/09 at 03:19 PM ET
Today the Hurricanes will be hosting the Westerm Conference cellar dweller Avalanche. They may be in last place, but they’ve won four games in a row even without Joe Sakic, Paul Stastny and J-M Liles. They’re also the only team that Carolina has never beaten. The last time the Whaler/Canes beat the Nordique/Avs was thirteen years ago. On February 9, 1996, the Whale beat the Avs 3-2 in overtime. The Avs were a machine that year.
Carolina will be wearing the alternate uniforms today. In eleven previous outings wearing black, Carolina is 4-5-2. Incidentally, the two overtime losses wearing black were both on the road.
The key to this game will be for Eric Staal to be active. The earlier the better. When he is, good things happen. The Canes are 16-2-1 when Staal scores at least one goal. He has two consecutive multi-point nights.
Tim Conboy, who can play defense or wing, will remain in the lineup. Brandon Sutter will most likely be a healthy scratch.
Carolina, who has earned four out of four points in a crucial six game stretch, will need to keep that momentum going. They are currently still in ninth place, three points behind Florida, Buffalo and Rangers and just four points behind fifth place Montréal The Rangers and Habs are both on skids and may provide Carolina with some outside help to get in the playoffs.
It’s looking like Thursday’s game with the Sabres could have gigantic implications for the playoffs. Of course Carolina will play Buffalo again on the penultimate game of the season which will have even greater implications.
As for the Avalanche, they may be in last place, but they’re not out of it by any stretch. They’re just nine points out of sixth place. It’s going to come down to the wire for the entire conference.
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About Red and Black Hockey
David Lee is a restaurant manager with an unused degree in political science. He can be found at Carolina Hurricanes games, Scrabble tournaments and indie-rock shows. Sometimes, all in the same day.