Tracking the Storm

Are the Hurricanes and Panthers Rivals?

Wednesday, 02.11.2009 / 10:06 AM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Are the Hurricanes and Panthers Rivals?
We mentioned this briefly on Monday’s podcast, but I thought it deserved further discussion here in advance of tomorrow night’s game:

Are the Florida Panthers the Hurricanes’ biggest rival right now? If not, who is?

Paul Branecky
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Most fans might still give Buffalo that dubious honor dating back to the 2006 playoffs, and rightfully so. It was a tough seven-game series that featured a lot of back-and-forth between players and coaches in the media, not to mention fans at the games.

That dislike has lasted well past that year. It seems like Carolina and Buffalo usually play most of their games near the end of the season when a playoff spot is up for grabs, so a lot of those contests, including three yet to come in the coming months, have plenty of intensity.

Also, for what it’s worth, they’re still the only fans who email the webmaster with generic “You Suck!!” comments after they win (Seriously? The webmaster?). Strangely, nothing when they lose …

However, based on more recent events, I think that Florida has to be part of the discussion. It started two seasons ago when the Panthers accused the Hurricanes of diving, leading to several exchanges like this one:

Florida’s Bryan Allen: "He embellished it as much as he could. It's embarrassing the way they play the game. They're looking for the easy way out, taking dives and looking for the cheesy call."

Florida’s Olli Jokinen: "[Carolina] has stolen so many points from us, we have to ... make sure they don't go anywhere. I'd rather see Tampa and Atlanta make it than this team.''

Carolina’s Erik Cole: "If I'm clicking through the NHL package, I'm probably not stopping to watch a Panthers game.”

So, mutual dislike was pretty clear at that point. Then came the final game of last season, in which the Canes only needed to beat the Panthers on home ice – something they had done in every meeting dating back to 2002 - to qualify for the playoffs. Based on past events and quotes like the one above, Florida was motivated beat the Hurricanes despite having nothing else to play for.

Not only did Florida win that game, but they also lost in Washington the following day when a win would have thrown the Canes a postseason lifeline. Not that anyone on the Carolina side expected any favors.

Now, each team finds themselves in a battle to make the postseason in 2009. Both teams are playing well, and it seems like they trade hold of the Eastern Conference’s eighth seed after each game. They play two more times this season, the first being tomorrow night at the RBC Center, which will amount to four-point games in the standings.

So, the question is this: Do the Hurricanes have a rivalry with Florida, or is Buffalo still the more hated team in the eyes of Carolina fans? Could both teams be considered rivals, or perhaps neither?

SCHEDULE

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 77 23 31 -13 54
J. Faulk 82 15 34 -19 49
E. Lindholm 81 17 22 -23 39
V. Rask 80 11 22 -14 33
J. Skinner 77 18 13 -24 31
N. Gerbe 78 10 18 -14 28
R. Nash 68 8 17 -10 25
J. Staal 46 6 18 -6 24
J. Liles 57 2 20 -9 22
J. McClement 82 7 14 -7 21
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 22 24 5 .910 2.40
A. Khudobin 8 17 6 .900 2.72