The Hurricanes and Panthers are all set to meet up tonight in an important matchup in Sunrise, Florida. The Hurricanes are in sixth place in the conference while the Panthers are in ninth, still out of the playoffs by a single point.
Carolina center, Matt Cullen, did not make the trip to Florida and will miss tonight's game against the Panthers. He is listed as having a "lower body injury", but the exact nature of his injury is unknown to the media. Some are assuming he sustained a foot injury on Friday night against the Islanders when he was struck by a puck. Regardless, his status is "day-to-day", and he is expected to play on Wednesday.
The Canes are an impressive 7-1-2 in their last 10 games while Florida is 4-4-2. The Panthers are probably still stinging after blowing a lead and allowing three goals in the final three minutes of the game against Columbus on Saturday night. Can they recover? The Hurricanes are flying high after winning three games in a row, all at home.
Nathan Horton is expected to return to the lineup tonight for Florida. He has missed the last six games with a hand, (finger), injury.
Cam Ward will be starting his 22nd consecutive game tonight. Look for Jussi Jokinen or Rod Brind'Amour to move up to Cullen's spot, Eaves to move up a spot, and either Ryan Bayda or Mike Ryan to fill in on the fourth line.
While this contest is very important to the Hurricanes, the Panthers are in dire need of this one and they should be a more desperate team tonight. But if Carolina needs any motivation, all they need to do is remember the 5-0 shellacking the Panthers handed to them the last time the teams met at the RBC. Not to mention the final Hurricanes game last season which in essence eliminated Carolina from the playoffs.
The game will be shown on Center Ice by what the NHL is calling "bonus coverage", or you can listen to Chuck call the game on 99.9 The Fan. (or maybe you can do both?). The normal sports bars who have CI should be carrying the game and I'm told that a place called "Ruckus" on Tryon Road will definitely have it on. Game starts at 7:30.