Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 04/04/09 at 01:04 PM ET
On Saturday, Carolina will play their fourth and final regular season game against the Penguins. If the Canes can extend their winning streak to eight and their home streak to eleven, they will guarantee a playoff spot for the first time since 2006. An overtime win by the Canes would clinch a playoff spot for both teams. In the previous three meetings between the teams, the Pens have won two and the Canes won the most recent game. Both squads are on ridiculous tears in their last 20 games. Carolina is 15-3-2 and the Penguins are 15-2-3.
Today the Hurricanes will be wearing their alternate black uniforms, in which they’ve won four in a row. They’ve gone 8-5-2 wearing the alternate duds and will wear them once more in the regular season.
The re-emergence of Rod Brind’Amour has been a big part of the Hurricanes recent winning ways. Things were going very badly for him on the ice, and a lot of questions were raised about his ability to continue playing at this level. He was sent home while the Canes were on a western road trip, and the hot streak started soon after. He has points in twelve of the last thirteen games. In that span, he has 17 (7/10) points and is a +10. In that category, he’s climbed all the way from 875th in the league to 872nd in the league. He currently has a seven game points streak working.
Cam Ward has been sensational in this stretch. He has started in 25 straight games, posting a record of 17-6-2 with two shutouts in that span. He’s won seven straight games, which matches a franchise mark. He is one victory shy of the franchise record for wins in a season (Martin Gerber with 38 in 2005-06) and one shutout shy of the same. He was named the NHL’s first star for the month of March after posting a 10-1-2 record.
Eric Staal has already destroyed the previous franchise record for shots on goal in a season and is one GWG away from tying the mark of 9 set by Blaine Stoughton in 1979-80. He has tallied points in eight of the last ten games, putting up 11 (3/8) in that span. A while back, I predicted that he had one more really big game in him this season. Hopefully, it’ll come tonight against his little brother.
Erik Cole hasn’t registered a point in his last five games, but he’s still looking great out there.
Sidney Crosby has been the man against Carolina this season. In the three games, he’s accumulated seven (1/6) points, which leads all Penguins in this regard. With his next point, which he’ll almost certainly get tonight, he’ll have 100 for the season.
Evgeni Malkin is just one point away from 300 for his career.
Puck drop for this game is at 7:00, and the UNC Tar Heels are playing in the NCAA basketball semifinal at about 9:00. Hopefully, fans will stay in their seats to the end of what promises to be a great hockey game.
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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.