Bruins vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

Canes, Panthers at Opposite Ends of Race

Monday, 03.23.2009 / 11:02 AM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Canes, Panthers at Opposite Ends of Race
Now that their recent play has given them some breathing room in the standings, the Hurricanes’ game against the Florida Panthers tonight isn’t quite as do-or-die as it was originally thought as early as one week ago.

Paul Branecky
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That doesn’t mean there isn’t anything on the line, however, as a victory would put Carolina ever so close to the playoff spot that has eluded them for the last two seasons.

Things went about as well as the possibly could for the Hurricanes over the last week, as three consecutive victories at home, combined with seemingly every other team in the playoff race stumbling, has put the Canes in their best position of the season – sixth place in the conference and five points ahead of Florida, the ninth-place team.

With Buffalo now facing an uphill climb to get back into the playoff race, Florida is likely the only team currently on the outside with a chance to fight their way back in. If the Canes can hold off the Panthers down the stretch, that might be all it takes to get into the postseason.  On the flip side, Carolina’s current situation gives them the luxury of still being in pretty good shape even if they don’t leave South Florida with two points.

The Panthers are coming off an absolute heartbreaker in which they gave up three goals (including an empty-netter) in the last three minutes against Columbus – a game they led 1-0 since late in the first period.

For a team that had already lost four of five heading into that contest, including a pair of blown third-period leads that are becoming increasingly rare across the league this season, normally I would say that kind of loss would be very tough to recover from. However, with the freefalling Montreal Canadiens only one point ahead of them, there is still plenty of incentive to come out hard tonight against Carolina in a game that has to be a must-win for Florida.

Offense has been a recent problem for the Panthers, which has scored only two goals in its last three games. Over the course of the season, the Panthers rank 20th in the NHL with an average of 2.71 goals per game.

Matt Cullen is expected out of the lineup for Carolina tonight, but it shouldn’t be anything serious enough to cause him to miss time outside of this game. The real shame here is that Cullen’s absence will cause a disruption in the line combinations, all of which have been working extremely well.

While tonight’s game will not be televised in the traditional manner as part of Versus’ exclusive Monday night rights, the in-house feed from BankAtlantic Center will be on NHL Center Ice and NHL.com’s GameCenter package. My understanding is that Florida’s radio feed be used to accompany the broadcast. As always, fans can listen on 99.9 FM the Fan, so feel free to use your DVRs to sync up with Chuck Kaiton’s call where applicable.

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - NYR 74 47 20 7 226 172 101
2 MTL 75 46 21 8 197 167 100
3 TBL 76 46 23 7 244 198 99
4 PIT 75 41 23 11 207 188 93
5 NYI 76 44 27 5 230 211 93
6 DET 74 40 22 12 216 201 92
7 WSH 75 40 25 10 218 186 90
8 BOS 75 37 25 13 199 195 87
9 OTT 73 37 25 11 213 195 85
10 FLA 74 34 26 14 184 202 82
11 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
12 CBJ 74 35 35 4 203 230 74
13 NJD 74 31 31 12 166 189 74
14 CAR 73 27 36 10 170 201 64
15 TOR 75 27 42 6 194 241 60
16 BUF 74 20 46 8 141 249 48

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 68 20 27 -13 47
J. Faulk 73 14 32 -18 46
E. Lindholm 72 16 20 -21 36
J. Skinner 68 18 12 -22 30
V. Rask 71 11 19 -12 30
R. Nash 67 8 17 -10 25
N. Gerbe 69 7 17 -13 24
J. McClement 73 7 13 -3 20
A. Nestrasil 45 7 13 4 20
J. Staal 37 4 15 -9 19
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 19 21 5 .910 2.43
A. Khudobin 8 15 5 .903 2.62