Okay, here we go.
The Caps have three games remaining.
The Hurricanes have three games remaining.
The Caps have 88 points.
The Hurricanes have 90.
Both teams have played 79 of 82 games.
Both teams will face off tomorrow at the Verizon Center.
Beating the Hurricanes on the scoreboard Tuesday will not wrap up the division title. The Caps need to do more. In the words of Coach Boudreau, they need to "touch somebody." Hard.
After Tuesday, the Capitals have a day off to recouperate. The Hurricanes do not. They hop on a bus home to take on the Tampa Bay Lightning the very next night. If the Caps play a pressing, physical, mean style of hockey and take some of the wind out of Carolina's sails, they may not have the gas left in the tank to ground the Lightning's speedy and talented top forward line.
Best case scenario: The Caps beat the 'Canes up Tuesday night, and the Lightning hold off a furious rally to beat Carolina. At that point, the Caps will have the chance to take the division lead the very next night... against a Tampa team playing the second half of back to back road games against playoff calibur opponents.
In other words, if the Caps can bust up Carolina enough, and the beat up Canes throw everything they have against Tampa and can't secure two points, they may inadvertently seal their own demise by tiring out the Lightning before they play a well rested Caps team on Thursday.
But wait, it gets better. After a single day of rest after their game against the lightning, the Canes take on the Florida Panthers on April 4th. With their backs against the wall, the Canes will most certainly throw everything they've got at Flordia. And guess who gets to play the Panthers the very next day with a day's rest? You guessed it. Your Washington Capitals.
So, ironically, the Canes may do the most of any team to help vault Washington into the playoffs, while forcing themselves out.
Of course, all this depends on the Caps winning Tuesday. So grab your red gear (and red facepaint) and get a good night's sleep tonight. After all, the Caps season hangs in the balance. You want to be good and ready to give your team the home team advantage they deserve, right? Then have a cup of tea tonight, rest your vocal chords, and get ready to scream your brains out tomorrow.
If you don't have tickets, then shame on you. Click here to get em. And bring your "A" game tomorrow night. The Caps have been doing it for the stretch run. It's time to return the favor.
Monday, March 31, 2008
Okay, here we go.