Southeast rivals meet for first time this season
HURRICANES (6-6-0) at PANTHERS (4-6-0)
TV -- FS-CR (HD), FS-F (HD)
Last 10 --
Season series --
This is the first of six meetings between the Southeast Division rivals this season. The teams split six games last season, with each team winning on home ice three times.
Big Story --
The Hurricanes hope they didn't waste any of their offense during Wednesday's rout of the Islanders. The Panthers hope there's no hangover from blowing a third-period lead Wednesday against the Thrashers.
Part of Carolina's solid start has been one glaring deficiency -- the team is last in the League in faceoff winning percentage, having won just 37.7 percent of draws this season. Even in beating the Islanders Wednesday, 7-2, they won just 26 of 59 faceoffs. Eric Staal has won just 38.5 percent of his faceoffs, Brandon Sutter 33.1 percent. Of the 93 players ranked by NHL.com, Staal is 92nd and Sutter is 93rd.
Tuomo Ruutu has started taking draws again, and is at 42.5 percent, but he's taken just 113 faceoffs, far behind the 265 taken by Staal and 172 by Sutter.
There certainly is help available for the Carolina forwards -- assistant coach Ron Francis and director of forwards development Rod Brind'Amour are two of the best ever in the faceoff circle.
There certainly was no shortage of shots on net for Florida on Wednesday against the Thrashers. The 55 shots they bombarded Atlanta goalie Chris Mason with tied a single-game franchise record. However, they only put three past him, which wasn't enough in a 4-3 loss.
"We didn't get enough goals and that's the bottom line," Panthers coach Peter DeBoer told the Miami Herald. "We shouldn't give up four on (23 shots for Atlanta) and we should get more than three on (55). There's fault on both ends. Two more saves, but on the other end, we get guys on the board we win regardless."
Goalie Tomas Vokoun
, who allowed four goals on the first 19 shots he faced, said blame him for the loss.
"I played horrible, gave up two bad goals," he told the Herald. "We played a good game, had 50-plus shots. It wasn't a good game on my part and that happens sometimes. Obviously we were better the whole game. This one hurts. The guys played with heart and played well. A few more saves from me and we win no problem."
Who's Hot --
Hurricanes rookie center Jeff Skinner has 3 goals and 6 points in his last four games and leads the team with 10 points. … Panthers defenseman Bryan McCabe
has 8 assists in his last seven games.
Injury Report --
Defenseman Joni Pitkanen is questionable with an upper-body injury suffered during Monday's loss to the Flyers. He played just 6:08 Wednesday against the Islanders, and Brett Carson was called up from AHL Charlotte on Thursday in case Pitkanen can't go. … Panthers center Stephen Weiss
is questionable after he missed time earlier in the week having dental surgery from taking a puck in the face Oct. 23.
Stat Pack --
There's been a greater commitment to defense this season with the Panthers. After allowing more than 33 shots per game the last three seasons -- the most or second-most in the League each season -- they're currently 10th at 28.5.
Puck Drop --
The Panthers' third line of Radek Dvorak
, Marty Reasoner
and Cory Stillman
has combined for 2,666 games and 43 NHL seasons, so they've heard their fair share of age-related jokes.
But a name for their line? Credit the Miami Herald's George Richards for this "Seinfeld" classic: the Del Boca Vista Boys.