Not that the Isles have any sort of daylight for climbing back into the playoff picture, but their competitors and the season is only half way over, so the Canes are a team they would need to put behind them.
Carolina is at NHL-.500 (nine OT/SOL!), six points ahead of the Isles, and lodged in that bubble of listing teams that are vying for third place in the Metropolitan Division.
The Isles seem to have trouble with the Canes more often than not (also: These teams wear their black jerseys against one another a lot in a sartorial dunce-off), and this season has been no exception. A 1-0 Isles loss in Raleigh in November followed the 4-3 October loss which was the last time we saw Lubomir Visnovsky.
Both teams come into tonight probably feeling better than they should about themselves, each coming off a dramatic overtime victory -- the Canes beating the Capitals in D.C 4-3 earlier this week when Jeff Skinner finished an odd-man counterattack.
This and That
For Calvin to do what he did in the offseason to get himself prepared for training camp... it's an indication of how hard he worked. You don’t’ miss that much time and then come back, have a real good training camp with us and - when the call comes - step in and do your job. I give a ton of credit to the coaches in Bridgeport for getting him ready.
Shutdown Line on how the Canes won in D.C.:
All three of Carolina's even strength goals, including Skinner's overtime winner, were scored in transition after mistakes by the Caps and that's pretty much how they created most of their offense. The Caps did a good job of shutting down most of Carolina's breakout attempts in the neutral zone and forced them to play a much more conservative game when they had control. This resulted in them not creating much offense and the cycle game that we're used to seeing from them was basically non-existent. Instead, they were forced to play defense for 60% of the time and take advantage of any openings the Capitals gave them.
"We're in a state where if someone isn't going we can't wait," Muller said without being specific about players. "Right now it's all about winning the game that night.
"When I talked to those guys today I said, 'We need our third and fourth lines to not wait and see what the first two (lines) do every night. We need you guys to have nights where you dictate the tempo of the game. You set the tone.'"
The Canes will start Anton Khudobin in goal. Their morning skate lines, according to that News & Observer story:
Skinner-E. Staal - Semin
Gerbe - J. Staal - Dwyer
Bowman - Malhotra - Ruutu
Boychuk - Sutter - Dvorak
The Canes also now have John-Michael Liles, which is kind of crazy after all this time trying to get someone, anyone to buy Tim Gleason.
Last game against Chicago saw some fun offensive pressure from basically all four lines -- and Ryan Strome and Brock Nelson made a nice young combo, while Peter Regin added some class to the four line. We'll see how they match up against the Hurricanes, who have so often given the Isles troubles with multiple scoring lines of their own.
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks for tonight over this way.
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