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Guy Behind the Guy: Home Ice Advantage

Friday, 02.27.2009 / 12:04 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Mike Sundheim
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Guy Behind the Guy: Home Ice Advantage
One thing Paul Maurice has stressed repeatedly to the media since his arrival back in Raleigh is just how much of an advantage the RBC Center can be to the Carolina Hurricanes. As someone who has coached both for and against the Hurricanes in Raleigh, Paul is uniquely experienced to comment on just how much of an impact the Caniacs can have on the rest of the season. When he talks about just how loud this building can get, he knows exactly how much Carolina’s fans can help the home team, or intimidate the road team. And he wants his team to use that advantage.

Mike Sundheim
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Last night, we saw that effect. The Sabres came out flying in the first period, but buoyed by an electric, playoff-like atmosphere in the RBC Center, the Hurricanes got stronger as the game went along. No matter how many times you hear athletes – home or away – say that they don’t notice the crowd, don’t believe it. They absolutely notice. And when they hear the roar of an appreciative crowd on a save, a blocked shot or a hit, the players know that the crowd is there and into the game.

After disappointing outcomes in three consecutive sold-out home games earlier this month, the Hurricanes are clearly starting to benefit from their support at home, winning three straight in Raleigh. And, let’s be honest, we have to. The fans have certainly done their part, as the RBC Center has drawn more than 110,000 fans, an average of 18,442 (98.7% of capacity), for the Hurricanes’ last six home games, including four sellouts.

A packed house is one thing. A raucous packed house is another. We go to plenty of buildings where the seats are full, but you can still hear the players’ on-ice chatter from the press box. When the Caniacs get going, the RBC Center is not one of those places. Needless to say, there were times when it was difficult to hear Paul Branecky talking next to me last night, let alone hear Anton Babchuk calling for a pass down on the ice.

With eight of our final 11 games in Raleigh, there is little doubt the Caniacs will have an opportunity to play a big role in the team’s success during the final playoff push.

Media Alerts: Sorry I haven’t been better about keeping up with these lately. The crowded schedule lately has limited my blogging time a bit.

  • Paul Maurice will join David Glenn on 850 The Buzz today at 5:30 p.m.

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