Washington Capitals goaltender Jim Carey has his own version of March Madness. It's called NHL Player of the Month.
Carey won the award as a rookie last season. Yesterday, he won it again.
But it was not all good news for the team yesterday. The Caps announced that left wing Keith Jones had suffered a torn left groin muscle in Friday's game against the Ottawa Senators and is expected to be sidelined for six weeks.
Jones originally suffered a pulled groin muscle March 12 against the Vancouver Canucks. He missed seven games and apparently aggravated it in the 5-0 win over Ottawa.
Jones is third on the Capitals in goals with 18 and has 23 assists in 68 games.
As for Carey, shortly after learning of the honor, he was asked what it is about March that inspires him.
"I think it just comes down to the end of the season and there is so much on the line," he said. "In high school, the state tournament was always in the middle of March and we won three. And in college, the Final Four just ended."
Carey, of course, didn't hang around the University of Wisconsin long enough to personally experience the college Final Four, opting to join the Capitals.
Called up from the AHL's Portland Pirates last March, he wasted no time showing why he's called "Ace," a nickname taken from the "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective" movie starring comedian Jim Carrey.
Carey was brilliant as he anchored Washington's playoff run with an NHL second-best goals-against average of 2.13.
He earned his latest NHL award with a March record of 7-3-3 that included five shutouts, a 1.13 goals-against average and a .953 save percentage. In 13 games, he surrendered one goal or fewer nine times.
"With so much at stake, it's the way you like it," said Carey, 21. "You're playing for something, to secure your position for the playoffs. For us, the playoffs start a month early."
Over 65 games this season, Carey is 32-21-9 with a 2.25 goals-against average. He leads the NHL with nine shutouts, is second in wins and third in goals-against average. He also has set club records for wins in a season and career shutouts (13).
Pub Date: 4/02/96