The Atlanta Thrashers will take on the Hurricanes tonight in the traditional New Year's Eve "Classic". This will be the seventh time the franchise has played on New Year's Eve. They have a record of 2-4 in the previous holiday contests, including a loss to the New York Islanders last year.
Atlanta is coming off a tough 5-4 overtime loss in Toronto last night while the Canes have not played since their 4-2 loss at home to Boston on Saturday night. The Thrashers are 5-12-3 in their last 20 games, including a 5-4 loss to the Canes last week Friday night. The Canes are 5-4-3 in the month of December, a month where the team played against mostly playoff bound teams. Coach Paul Maurice is looking for better results in the coming month because the team's competition will drop off a notch.
Look for Cam Ward to be in net for the Canes. Johan Hedberg played for Atlanta last night. Will he have the night off tonight or has coach John Anderson lost complete confidence in Kari Lehtonen?
Bryan Little is on a roll while Ilya Kovalchuk has not scored a goal in 10 games, the longest such drought in his career.
Eric Staal usually lights up Atlanta. Not only did he have a hat trick in the third period of last week's game, but he has scored more career points, (37) against the Thrashers than he has against any other NHL franchise.
The Canes would like a few other players to start lighting the lamp as well. For instance, Rod Brind'Amour has scored just once in the last 19 games.
The game has a late start time of 8PM and will be broadcast locally by FS Carolinas. This will also be an HD broadcast.
There is a basketball game at 2, so expect traffic delays if you show up early. (Also expect bad ice).
The franchise will be celebrating the New Year with free party favors, a band, and a free champagne toast at midnight. They will also have a fireworks display at 12:30.
Have a happy!