The Canes are back from the brink; Lightning versus Carolina preview

WHERE: St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa, Florida
WHEN: 7:30 PM EDT
MEDIA: Sun Sports (cable), 620 WDAE (radio)
OPPONENT COVERAGECanes Country

You have to respect the Hurricanes.  You really should try to, at least.  Carolina had the worst start in franchise history and looked to be out of playoff contention before Thanksgiving (...Canadian Thanksgiving).

But a funny thing happened to the Hurricanes once December arrived:  They started playing like the Carolina Hurricanes again, winning, and winning, and winning some more.

If you haven't kept up with standings in the NHL, you might have missed it but Carolina passed the Lightning in the standings earlier this week.  They've won back-to-back overtime games against the conference leading Washington Capitals and the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins.

In other words, they came back from the brink, and are still alive in the playoff hunt.  It's unlikely, but it is a bit of a Cinderella story in Raleigh.

On the other side of the aisle now, with the home team, we're all grasping at straws for what to rally around.  You cannot find much int he way of original content fromt he daily ppaers or the blogosphere for that matter.  But it is out there.  You just have to look.

Case in point, Nolan at Frozen Sheets reflects on something that has a glimmer of relevance with tonight's game:  the 2008 Brad Richards trade that netted Mike SMith, Jeff Halpern and Jussi Jokinen.  It's depressing in reflection to recall the trade to begin with, but even more insulting to think of the string that's played out involving the players involved int he deal.

In an injury update, Ryan Malone and Mattias Ohlund skated on their own today.  The team did not practice with them and had an 11 AM meeting this morning.  

2010 NHL Entry Draft Prospect

For these last ten games, I'd like to highlight a prospect from this upcoming entry draft in each of the ten previews.  I do realize that focusing on the draft may be annoying, especially when it's done in perpetuation (third season in a row the Lightning will likely draft high), but it gives a glimmer of hope for the future in an otherwise upsetting time.

At any rate, the following prospect profile is from The Scouting Report.  It gives a smattering of information on a player that will be in the 2010 entry draft and likely a 1st round draft choice:

 Vladmir Tarasenko  (LW)

One player who’s draft stock has risen tremendously this year is dynamic Russian forward Vladimir Tarasenko.... He’s one of the most creative offensive forwards in the draft, which is one of the main reasons why he’s seen so much ice time in the KHL this season with Sibir. At the World Juniors, Tarasenko missed finishing on a few chances, but still showcased his scoring touch, finishing 4 goals in only 6 games played for the Russians. While the so called "Russian Factor" will likely work against Tarasenko come draft day, there is no doubting that he has established himself as a Top 10 talent in the 2010 Entry Draft.

Other Previews

Tampa Bay Lightning official team preview

TBO

St. Pete Times

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