Ok, shower, dress, get on the bus fellas, because the plane’s leaving for Carolina…Such is the life of the NHLer, in Toronto one night, in Raleigh the next. If it’s Sunday, it must be…hockey. It must be hard on players to play 60 minutes, hop on a plane, and then play another road game less than 24 hours later. Surely, there has to be a way to fight the jet lag that such travel leaves with the players. Maybe the good perfesser has some answers…
Perfesser, is there some scientific equation or process that can reenergize the players for the second of back-to-back games on the road they’ll be playing in Carolina?
"Vee heff performed many eggschperiments in adding time to ze 24-hour day."
Have you had any success?
"Vell…vee aggtually heff some very successful attempts at time travel…zere vuss zat vellow in Inkland a long time ago…had three zpirits come und transport him back sroo time to his childhood… "
You’re talking about Ebeneezer Scrooge.
"Ya…zat’s ze vellow. "
You realize he was a fictional character…
"Ah…zats vutt zey vant you to believe, ya?"
OK, Perfesser…you said there were many successful attempts…
"Ya, zere vuss ze two vellows in Inkland…vy is it alvays Inkland?...who built ziss model of a time machine and vent off into ze future."
That’s an H.G. Wells book.
Look, Mr. Scientist…is there any proof of being able to stretch time? Something our boys can use to get a few more hours of rest before the game?
"OK, let me draw you a piggture…"
Wait…that’s an equation for time travel?
"No, schtoopit…it’s mein pr-r-r-r-r-r-ognostication on how many goals the Caps vill get."
Great…well, the Caps will have to cope with travel in the usual way and take on a Carolina Hurricanes team that played its own game last night – at home – against the Flyers, losing in overtime 2-1. The Hurricanes are gasping for air at the moment, having gone 1-4-1 in their last dozen games and replacing their coach, Peter Laviolette, with their old coach, Paul Maurice. They’ve scored only 12 goals in that stretch, giving up 24. Overall, the differences between the teams’ numbers are rather stark in many respects…
It isn’t in the usual course of events that the Hurricanes would struggle so much to score goals, but this is a team that has seen its go-to guys up and gone from the score sheet. The Hurricanes’ leading scorer, Ray Whitney (7-12-19) is 0-2-2, -6 in his last seven games. Eric Staal (8-7-15 overall) is 0-2-2 in his last seven. Rod Brind’Amour is 0-2-2, -9 in his last nine games and is on a pace to finish -67. The Hurricanes don’t have a single player on a pace to top 60 points or 40 assists. They do not have a player in double digits in goals or a player on a pace to top 30.
The Hurricanes have had peculiar difficulties scoring at home, where their 2.33 goals-per-game ranks tied for 27th in the league. Since beating Toronto, 6-4, on November 2nd, the Hurricanes have topped two goals in regulation on their own ice once in 11 home games. Part of the problem is that their power play is 5-for-50 over those 11 home games.
Defensively, the Hurricanes have not been bad as much as they’ve been overwhelmed by their lack of offense. They’ve been just bad enough to lose with regularity. In those last 11 home games (in which they are 4-6-1), they’ve allowed 35 goals and have allowed at least one power play goal in eight of them.
Perhaps the odd part in this is that the Hurricanes have outshot their opponents in nine of those last 11 home games and have topped 30 shots eight times. They seem to look like the Hurricanes, without the results one might expect from them.
The Peerless Players to Ponder
Carolina: Justin Williams
His return after suffering an Achilles tendon injury is quite remarkable. An injury that was expected to cost him four months caused him to miss only 25 games. He returned to action against the Penguins last Thursday. In two games since his return, he has not scored and is being eased, as one might expect, back into the lineup (less than 15 minutes of ice time in both games). However, he is 13-17-30, +10 in 36 career games against the Caps. He might be the tonic the anemic Carolina offense needs in this one.
Washington: Tomas Fleischmann
Fleischmann has a half dozen goals in his last dozen games (6-4-10). Although he didn’t score against Toronto on Saturday night, he has seven attempts (three shots registered). He has never lighted the lamp against the Hurricanes in 14 career games. But he is now the second leading goal scorer on the team. Getting some output from him could give the Caps some breathing room.
This will be the third meeting of the season between the two clubs, Washington having won in Verizon Center (3-2) and at RBC Center (5-1). Carolina has been a good team playing poorly enough to bleed points, now trailing the Caps by six in the Southeast Division and to find themselves on the outside of the top-eight looking in. Making things worse, they will likely be missing three defensemen (is this a league epidemic, or what?)…Frantisek Kaberle, Tim Gleason, and Dennis Seidenberg. And, Cam Ward is expected to be out with a groin injury, leaving the netminding duties to Michael Leighton, who was lit up for five goals in 48 minutes in a 5-1 loss to the Caps on November 12th.
Storm warnings are out…the Caps are blowing into town to take on a nicked up Hurricanes team in a slump. Like the Perfesser scribbled…Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Laich (we’ll leave it to you, dear reader, to figure out the assists).
Caps 3 – Hurricanes 1