Florida: 17-9-6 (40PTS)
Carolina: 10-18-5 (25PTS)
Season Series: 1-0-0
Game Time: 5:00 PM EST
Television: Fox Sports Florida
Radio: 560 WQAM
It's Sunday and along with the visiting Hurricanes, "Alcohol-Free" Sunday has come to the BankAtlantic Center. Today the Big Billboard will suspend alcohol sales in the building in coordination with FDOT as part of their "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign. As with all things involving the Panthers organization, things are not exactly as they appear at first glance. The fine print is that while all the bars and concessions on the 100 and 400 levels, as well as the Panther Bar located above the team store, will be closed and no alcohol allowed in those parts of the facility, the bars on the club and suite levels will still be serving. So, for those counting, anyone with club or suite level tickets will still be able to buy alcohol, as will all lower bowl season ticket holders, though they will not be able to take drinks back to their seats. Interesting, but not at all surprising. (Full disclosure: My running dispute with the club's disparate treatment of upper bowl season ticket holders and those holding more high priced tickets is a large part of the reason why I elected to get a satellite dish rather than season tickets this year.)
But what of the game? Today is the second of six between the two teams, division rivals for one last season before the Panthers and Lightning join the East Canada Conference next season. The Hurricanes sport the worst record in the Eastern Conference and the Panthers have beat them once this season. But, as always, underestimating an opponent is a great way for teams at the top of the standings to lose games to those at the bottom. The Panthers would do well to follow up Friday night's win with another hard working game, possibly complete with some goals not from Messrs. Weiss, Versteeg and Fleischmann.
News and Notes
The Panthers spoiled Kirk Muller's NHL coaching debut in Carolina, beating the Hurricanes 3-1 at the end of November.
Erik Gudbranson has missed the last two games with a minor injury. Keaton Ellerby has taken his place in the lineup. Forward Greg Rallo has been recalled from San Antonio to replace Jack Skille, injured in Friday's game against the Calgary Flames. The 30 year old Rallo will be making his NHL debut in today's game.
- F Scottie Upshall (hip), 11/10, 6 to 8 weeks
- F Marcel Goc (concussion), 11/16, week to week
- F Jack Skille (shoulder), 12/16, at least a week
- D Keaton Ellerby OR
- D Erik Gudbranson
No starter has been announced, but with the day off, it is likely that Jose Theodore will start again today.