Tuesday, April 11, 2006

'Canes or Bolts Tonight?

Exit, Stage Left?
photo: ap
Heavens to Murgatroid! I think I'm looking forward to the Thrash/Bolts tilt tonight much more than the 'Canes/Devils. The 'Canes are still a M*A*S*H* unit, so I wouldn't expect to see anybody they need to get healthy in the lineup tonight. I think ironmen like Staal (all 78 games), Williams (all 78 games), Recchi (79 games), and Roddy (most TOI in the league of any forward), could use either one more night off or some reduced ice time. But nobody wants to sit this close to playing a complete season of games, so that probably won't happen. The boys are coming off two days of rest with two more to follow tonight's game, so they'll have to recharge on the fly.

Six points separate the Thrash from the 'Ning and that eighth spot. The Thrash still have a game in hand on the Lightning, and Tampa has what looks like a tougher schedule over their final three games-Hurricanes twice and closing with the Craps. The Thrash can probably make up some ground with the Craps x2, Bruins, and Panthers still on the schedule, but the Lightning, with their four more total wins, can effectively bury the Thrash tonight with a win.

If it comes down to the 'Canes facing the Lightning or Thrash in the first round, I'd rather face the Leafs or Canadians. I don't like the SE division matchup I see evolving.

A rested and recharged Kari Lehtonen scares me more than the Burke/Grahame combo. The Thrash's incendiary on-ice tactics also scare me more than the up-tempo, Hurricane-like play of the Lightning. The Thrash just seem able to get into the 'Canes heads. And once they get up a goal or four, they are hard to catch. The other night, Darren Eliot said that he thought Ilya Kovalchuk was finally learning that winning felt better than just padding his personal stats. Better late than never I guess, but probably too late for this season.

I say, Go Lightning! I think Kovalchuk, Holik, Sutton, Exelby, etc. still have a lot to learn about winning and playing with class.

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