The Nashville Predators will be the next test for the Caps who have not done well against the West this season. The Preds are sitting in eighth place in the west and there is a log jam for teams trying to make the playoffs there. The Preds are looking to solidfy a playoff spot in a very tight race in the west. There are signs that they are starting to get out of their slump, but like Bruce Boudreau alluded to, it takes two wins to officially get out of a slump.
The next in line would be the Philadelphia Flyers. A team that the Caps have yet to figure out since the post season a year ago. The Caps are 1-2 against Philly and will have to face them at the Wachovia Center. The Flyers are not on the bubble, but this rough and tumble team are the kind of teams the Caps seem to have trouble with. And the tough opponents will not stop there.
After a tough road trip, the Caps will have to come back to the phone booth to face the Carolina Hurricanes. The 'Canes have been playing very tough and are on a 4 game winning streak that includes beating the Caps, Flames, Rangers and Lightning (they pounded the Bolts 9-3). They too are trying to make the playoffs after having to sit out last post season, at the hands of a surging Capitals team that pushed them out of the playoffs in the last game of the season.
The next three games should be more than enough of a test for the Capitals who desperately need a few wins to keep the pressure on for the top of the East Standings and keep Florida and Carolina at bay in the Southeast. I would be so bold to say that these next three games could be the biggest games of the season for the Capitals.
- Guy Carbonneau got the boot in Montreal as the story here seems to be a break down in communication. That makes seven coaches that got their walking papers in the NHL this season. That is a 23% unemployment rate, damn this economy! That is a lot of nice suits in the soup line.
- Former Capital Brian Sutherby found a home for the next two years. He signed a two year contract worth $1.6 million with the Dallas Stars.
- The General Managers' meeting in Florida seems to be obsessed with fighting... on the ice that is. As Brian Burke put it, "This will sound really silly, is there a way to [make fighting] safer? You know, guys like me who believe fighting has an intrical part or intrical place in our game. What's the best way to do it in a way that senseless or needless injuries can be averted."