Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 02/13/11 at 01:40 PM ET
On Sunday afternoon, the Hurricanes will play the fourth of five consecutive road games. Today’s opponent is the Atlanta Thrashers, with whom they are in a three dog fight for the eighth and final playoff spot. These next two games (at Atlanta today and at New Jersey on Wednesday) are pretty much “must win” situations. Today’s game is more than that. They need to win in regulation. If they can engineer the two wins, they will have earned six of ten points on this road trip, and everyone will be happy with that. To be honest, people will accept five of ten, but that’s not going to be good enough for me.
The pessimist will say that Carolina has lost five of their last six games. That certainly is true, but a more positive outlook is that they have earned at least one standings point in three of their last four games. They fought hard on Saturday night to force overtime and steal a point from the Lightning, and they can be proud of that.
For at least today, the Canes have recalled Jerome Samson, who is third in the American Hockey League in goals and fourth in the league in scoring. In very limited NHL ice time last season, he didn’t have very much success, but I think he’ll make a difference this time. He’s slotted in at fourth line left wing along with fellow recall Zac Dalpe, who will center that line.
Carolina and Atlanta have met three times so far this season, and every game has gone to extra time. In both games at Raleigh, Erik Cole scored in overtime to win. In Atlanta on December 16, Sergei Samsonov “scored” the deciding goal in shootout. Carolina will certainly take two points by any means, but they don’t want to give one point to Atlanta. They’ll also be keeping their eyes on Buffalo, who are just three points back with three games in hand. They’ll be playing the Islanders, who are bad and who are also depleted by injury and suspension.
The Devils may be near the bottom of the Eastern conference standings, and they may be in too deep of a hole to even think about the playoffs, but they are completely en fuego right now, so they should not be taken lightly. Carolina will finish their road trip at New Jersey on Wednesday, then turn right around and host them on Saturday as the second game of a back-to-back home set. It’ll be the third meeting between the Canes and Devils in a twelve day (seven game) span.
I’ll be at the Charlotte Checkers game against the Albany Devils. That game will be going on simultaneous with the Sabres/Islanders game, so my Blackberry will be working hard. About the time the Checkers game ends, the Hurricanes/Thrashers game will be underway
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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.