SB Nation Rival Blog: Litter Box Cats
Hurricanes Record: 31-32-9 | 71 pts | 7th Metro | 13th EC
Panthers Record: 27-38-8 | 62 pts | 7th Atlantic | 15th EC
Games Remaining: 10
Estimated Points Needed: 92
Points Back: 21 (no longer possible)
Playoff Chances (Sports Club Stats): 0.3%
Tragic Number: 12
For the second game in a row, Canes fans are treated to a match-up between two teams mired in the bottom quarter of the Eastern Conference. Tonight wraps up the three-game season series between the Hurricanes and Panthers. Both prior games were played in Raleigh and the Canes emerged victorious from both (3-2 on January 19th and 5-1 on February 7th).
Neither team practiced yesterday nor spoke with the media so there are only a few updates.
The Panthers fired assistant General Manager Mike Santos on Tuesday. Santos had been responsible for player personnel for both the Panthers and the Rampage and had been instrumental in the hiring of interim head coach Peter Horachek.
The Panthers expect defenseman Eric Gudbranson to return to the line-up after missing nine games with a knee injury. Tomas Kopecky (concussion), Alex Petrovic (upper body), Aleksander Barkov (knee) and Jonathan Huberdeau (lower body) are all out with injuries.
In the "who's hot" category, Panthers rookie Vincent Trocheck has a goal and an assist in his last two games, along with a goal in Tuesday's shootout. For the Canes, in addition to logging both game-winners in the previous match-ups against the Panthers, Alexander Semin has three goals in his last three games.
After facing Tim Thomas and Scott Clemmensen in the two prior meetings, the Canes will see a new netminder tonight after the trade deadline brought Roberto Luongo and Dan Ellis to the Panthers lineup. Bobby Lu is 4-4-0 with a .923 save percentage and 2.53 GAA since rejoining his former team, while Ellis, who played for the Canes during last year's lockout-shortened season, has two losses since joining his new squad.
There is no indication as to who might be in net for the Canes. Both active goalies played Tuesday with Cam Ward giving up 3 goals before being pulled, and Anton Khudobin taking the loss adding two goals against. Justin Peters is still on the active roster but has remained a healthy scratch since Cam Ward's return from injury. Might he see a start before the end of the season?
We'll have the game thread ready to roll by 7:00 pm. See you there.