Panthers-Hurricanes: Take It to the Limit

Robert McGeeSenior Writer IApril 4, 2008

It could be all or nothing for the Carolina Hurricanes Friday night, as the Florida Panthers invade the RBC Center with party-crashing on their minds.

Since the Washington Capitals beat the Tampa Bay Lightning as expected Thursday night, a win is necessary if the Canes want to be assured of the Division title.

If the Canes play their game and “take it to the limit", there should be no problem. But this is a sporting event, and of course anything can happen.

Helping the Hurricanes, the Panthers have not won in Raleigh this decade, not since December of 2002. The Canes have owned that team.

But there is no love lost between these teams. A win over Carolina would make the whole year worthwhile for the pitiful Panthers. Florida will be ready to play.

Tonight is fan appreciation night, and the franchise is giving everything away but the kitchen sink. They will start off by giving hats to the first 12,000 people in the building.

During the 1st intermission they will also be giving away a Chevy Malibu. Several people qualified during the year by firing a number of pucks into the net from the blue line, with the winners advancing.

I’m not sure how they will determine the final winner, but someone is going to be a happy camper.

On top of that, another fan will be winning a house worth $340,000 during the second intermission. Over 100 fans have qualified for this once-in-a-lifetime giveaway.

I personally know two people in this group, so who knows, I could be attending the party of the decade if one of them wins.

And some lucky fans will be chosen to receive the “jersey off a player’s back”. After the game, the chosen few will be taken down to the ice. Each player will skate over to the corresponding fan, take off their jersey, and give it to that fan. Most will also sign it if a marker is available.

A band will be performing before the game, so it’s a perfect day to show up early, do a little tailgating, and prepare yourselves to do some yelling and cheering.

After a team meeting, the boys had the day off yesterday, although some players skated anyway and some played soccer.

This will be their third game in four days, but if the boys can’t get fired up for this one, something is seriously wrong.

I expect the lineup to be the same as it was on Wednesday night:

  • Staal-Cole-Whitney
  • Aucoin-Walker-Bayda
  • Cullen-Samsonov-Ruutu
  • LaRose-Letowski-(Seidenberg)
  • Hedican-Gleason
  • Corvo-Kaberle
  • Wesley-Wallin

Cam Ward will start in goal once again, and I guess this one will be the 20th in a row. Brookbank, Conboy, and Hamilton will probably all be sitting in the press box.

What more can be said? Will this game be a prelude to the playoffs, or will most of the boys be flying back home next week for a long off season?

This should be another good one, be loud and proud. Game time is at 7pm.

If there is anything new to report during the day, I will have it here as soon as I can.