Back-to-back hockey - does it get better than that?
Who: Your Nation's Capitals vs. Carolina Hurricanes
Where: Verizon Center
601 F Street NW
Washington, DC 20004
When: Saturday, October 6, 7:00 pm
Broadcast Info: CSN/CSNHD, 3WT; FSS, 99.9 FM
Raleigh News & Observer
'07-'08 Standings: Caps 1-0-0, 2 points - T-2nd in SE; Canes 1-0-1, 3 points - 1st in SE
'06-'07 Season Series: Caps 3-5-0, Canes 5-3-0
Rather than break down the last time these two teams met, let's look at the first time they met last year and the season as a whole.
The Caps got the season series off to a thrilling start, taking the raucous home opening win complete with the debut of the Alex and Alex show. Semin had his first career hat trick and Ovechkin added two more goals to wrap up the scoring in the 5-2 victory for the good guys, with Olie Kolzig earning the win for his work between the pipes.
As the season series progressed it was clear that this was not going to be a series of nailbiters or one-goal games. The two teams alternated going on scoring binges, with the winning team scoring at least four goals in seven of the eight games. On the flip side, the losing team never scored more than three goals and twice the Caps found themselves shutout by Carolina. Four of the five Canes' wins came with Cam Ward in net, while Olie Kolzig held down the fort for all three Caps wins.
Both teams come into this game after playing the previous night, with each club earning a win against their opponents. As a result, neither will go with the goaltender who earned them that win, as John Grahame will likely play for Carolina and Olie will backstop the team before the home crowd.
The Caps proved what can happen when you jump out to a fast start...and they also saw what happens when you start flat as the Thrashers did. Their opening night ceremony obviously won't have the world's slowest banner hanging, but it will have plenty of pomp and circumstance and they'll need to shake it off quickly. Dawdling into a game against the high-powered offense of the Hurricanes will not be an option.
There were so many solid performances Friday night from individuals - Kozlov, Nylander, Ovechkin, Johnson, Green - but the win really came about as a team. They need to prove to us and to themselves that last night was not a fluke, that the Caps are really an improved team, that puck possession and discipline are still the names of the game. Meanwhile they'll need to be sharp to shut down Eric Staal, who has jumped out to a hot start with three goals in two games.
Semin was placed on the IR yesterday but it was retroactive to September 29 when he initially injured his ankle, and he could play tonight. Whether he does or not will be Hanlon's decision, and hopefully he'll be all set to go. I'd love to see a repeat of last year's home opener or, dare to dream, an even better performance.
In more roster news, if Ben Clymer clears waivers the Caps can recall him - but then someone either needs to be sent down to Hershey, placed on the IR or traded. We'll know by noon tomorrow what exactly it was the Caps were trying to do by placing him on re-entry waivers in the first place and whether we can still consider Clymer a Cap.
Two Minutes with...Eric Staal
Thoughts on married life: "It's awesome, except her mom won't let me wear shoes in the house. That kind of sucks. As soon as we grow up we're going to buy an awesome house of our own with a rope ladder and a tire swing and we'll eat ice cream for dinner every night."
Favorite sport other than hockey: "NASCAR is great. You can just watch them making left turns and never get bored! We watched a lot of it at my bachelor party...it's easy to watch when you're dru-, er, celebrating. Yeah."
Songs on his iPod: "I Fought the Law" "Margaritaville" "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" "Life in the Fast Lane"
On predictions that youngest Staal brother Jared is the most talented: "Uh...well...yeah, but does he have a Stanley Cup ring? Does he?? No. See, I'm the best."
Favorite book: "Does Men's Health count? No? Okay, um...how about GQ? FHM? Highlights?"
Favorite TV show: "Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers - I'm always the blue ranger when we play at home, too. We make Jordan be the pink one."