Pregame #71: Capitals at Hurricanes

Washington Capitals (47-14-9) vs. Carolina Hurricanes (28-33-8)
RBC Center
Time: 7:00 pm
TV: Comcast SportsNet
Radio: 820AM, 1500AM, 106.7 FM and XM
Previous Meetings:
Mar 10, 2010       CAR@WSH          WSH, 4 – 3
Dec 28, 2009       CAR@WSH          CAR, 6 – 3
Dec 11, 2009       CAR@WSH          WSH, 4 – 3
Nov 30, 2009       WSH@CAR          WSH, 3 – 2
Remaining Meetings:
Mar 25, 2010       WSH@CAR          7:00 PM

The Washington Capitals continue their 4-game road swing tonight, heading to Raleigh to face the Carolina Hurricanes after dismantling the Florida Panthers 7 goals to 3 on Tuesday. Tonight is the 5th of 6 seasonal meetings with the ‘Canes, with the Caps leading the series 3-1 – but by the slimmest of margins. Two previous meetings between these Southeast Divisional rivals have gone to overtime, and only one game was decided by more than one goal (a 6-3 win by Carolina at the Verizon Center in December). DC will be without the services of Alex Ovechkin tonight, as he serves the final game of a 2-game suspension for boarding Chicago Blackhawks’ defenseman Brian Campbell.  While playing without Ovechkin might seem troublesome on paper, in reality the Caps are 7-2-0 in the 9 games he’s missed this season – and several other players have flourished including Brooks Laich, who has netted 5 goals and 6 assists without Ovie on the ice.

Although the recent hype surrounds Jose Theodore, it appears that the young Russian Semyon Varlamov will be between the pipes tonight for DC who will face off against the Hurricanes’ rookie Justin Peters.

Make the jump to find out what to watch for!

What To Watch For:

– On the Road Again: With a win tonight, the Washington Capitals will tie the franchise record for road victories with 23 set during the  1983-84 season. The Caps, although 9-1-2 in their last 12 games on the road, will face a ‘Canes team that’s 18-14-3 in Raleigh this season. Carolina has also been tough as of late, winning 8 of their last 10 at home – but are coming off two straight losses being outscored 9-2.

– Welcome Home: Tonight is the first time new comers Scott Walker and Joe Corvo set foot in the RBC Center since joining the Caps roster at the trade deadline. Walker lit the lamp twice and +1 in his 4 games as a Capital, while Corvo is credited with 3 helpers and a -1 rating in 7 contests. I’ll tell you one thing though, Walker was quick on converting his son to a Caps fan

–  Pipe Dream: As we mentioned previously, Varly will be taking the ice tonight to face off against Justin Peters who has played only 6 games in his rookie season. Although he’s 4-2-0 on the season with a 2.35 GAA and .923 Sv %, Peters has struggled in his last three starts collecting a 1-2-0 record and allowing 3.34 goals against with a .887 Sv %. Varlamov, on the other hand, has steadily progressed since returning from his injury, posting save % of .786, .862, .885, and .889 in his last 4 starts.

Player To Watch: Eric Staal, C #12

Centering the first line, Eric Staal has been able to pick the Capitals apart this season. He is 3-5-8 with a +3 rating in the four previous matchups, having generated more offense against the Caps than any other team. Sure, he’s only 1-6-7 since returning from the Olympic break but he’s capabable at turning it on at a moments notice.