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The Official Site of the Carolina Hurricanes

They're All Big Games

by Paul Branecky / Carolina Hurricanes

Injury Notes (Thursday)

  • Patrick Eaves will undergo shoulder surgery Friday to fix the problem that has been lingering all season.  He's expected to miss 2-3 weeks of game action.  Chad LaRose is expected to return to the lineup this weekend in his place.
  • Scott Walker was back on the ice after resting for Wednesday's skate.   Still no sign of Ray Whitney (leg) and Matt Cullen (head).

Even though the Canes picked up a point against Washington at a time where every single one is important, the fact that the Capitals got two of their own took away a little breathing room in the chase for the Southeast crown.

With the Caps still in the hunt, that makes next Tuesday’s game between the two contenders at the Verizon Center every bit as meaningful as the previous edition in Raleigh, if not more so.

While the shootout loss to Washington makes all of Canes remaining games important, not all them will have that same sense of urgency coming from both teams.

Florida’s loss this past Tuesday combined with wins by Boston, Philadelphia and the Capitals all but put them out of the playoff pursuit, meaning that four of the Canes’ last five will come against teams who theoretically won’t have a lot to play for.

That’s not to say they’ll be easy by any means.

”I think there’s a little bit of a catch to them,” said Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette.  “They’re still great hockey teams – I think Atlanta proved that the last time we were in their building.  They were a dangerous team and it was fairly even.  If you don’t prepare for that, they can be tricky.”

Carolina did pick up a 5-3 win in that contest, with Laviolette indicating at the time that it was actually closer than the score indicated.  Whether it’s the contending team’s natural tendency to look ahead to other games or the loose style of play of a non-playoff team, such games can still be treacherous this time of year.

”They have nothing to lose and they play with a lot of offense and not as much defense as they probably usually do,” said Canes center Keith Aucoin.  “Systems kind of lack when you’re out of the playoff race, and I’ve been in that position before, and it’s tough.  You just want to put up numbers more than anything.”

If players like Ilya Kovalchuk and Vincent Lecavalier are set free to pad their stats, look out.  The Canes will face each in consecutive days this weekend beginning with Kovalchuk’s Thrashers at the RBC Center on Friday.

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