Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 02/05/11 at 06:04 PM ET
Tonight, the Thrashers come to Raleigh for one of those “four point” games. The winner will be in the playoff picture, the loser out. If Carolina can manage a regulation win, they will be one point ahead of the Thrash. An overtime or shootout Canes win would leave the teams tied on points, but Carolina holds tiebreakers and would move into the eighth spot. Any loss, whether in regulation or overtime, would be unacceptable.
After Thursday’s horrible performance against Toronto, coach Paul Maurice canceled practice to give the boys some time to think about things. Rookie Jeff Skinner didn’t accept this and asked for a net to be brought out. He held his own practice. This might not have been much more than skating and shooting, but it speaks volumes about his character. It’s easy for an 18-year old kid to take the day off and play video games or whatever, but he’s more than just some 18-year old kid. He will, some day, wear a letter on the front of his sweater.
As ugly as Thursday’s shutout loss to the Leafs was, Canes fans should expect a much better performance tonight. The Hurricanes should be angry, hungry and something else that ends in -gry.
Neither team has won a game since the All-Star break, and it feels like weeks since Carolina either gained or lost ground on the Thrashers. One way or the other, that’s going to change tonight.
In two meetings this season, Carolina has won both games in extra time. December 16 in Atlanta, the Canes won 3-2 in a shootout with Sergei Samsonov getting the deciding tally. On January 9 in Raleigh, the Canes won 3-2 because of an Erik Cole overtime goal. In the last six meetings between the two teams, Carolina has a 5-1-0 advantage.
Carolina will be donning their alternate black uniforms for the ninth time this season. The are 5-3-0 this season in the black kits including three straight wins.
I will expect Cam Ward to be in nets for the 12th straight game. I will expect a big night from the second line of Skinner, Tuomo Ruutu and Chad LaRose. I will expect nothing less than a regulation win for the Canes.
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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.