Found January 19, 2013 on
Carolina Hurricanes vs. Florida Panthers
BankAtlantic Center, 7:30 p.m.
TV: FS-Carolinas, FS-Florida
The long wait is finally over and the much anticipated 2013 season will begin tonight for the Carolina Hurricanes. Carolina comes into this season with a new-look offense and greater expectations than they've had in a few years. It's definitely an exciting time to be a Hurricanes fan right now, as there are a lot of rumblings about this team making a strong playoff push and maybe even a division championship. Before we begin to think about that, the Canes have some business to take care of the next few months and it starts tonight with a showdown against the defending Southeast Division champions in the Florida Panthers.
Regardless of what happens tonight, I'm sure the fans will be happy just that the NHL is back, after it looked like we may not have a season this year. Many of us have turned to other outlets to get our hockey fixes, but it's hard to match the thrill and excitement that the NHL brings night in and night out. Plus, Carolina fans will finally get to see Jordan Staal and Alexander Semin in regular season action for the Hurricanes, which is going to be a treat no matter what.
We'll take a closer look at these two teams and talk about possible matchups after the jump.
Boychuk - E. Staal - Semin
Skinner - J. Staal - Dalpe
Tlusty - Jokinen - LaRose
Bowman - Brent - Dwyer
Gleason - Corvo
Pitkanen - Faulk
Harrison - Sanguinetti
Scratches: Welsh, McBain, Westgarth
Panthers Lines (Subject to change)
Fleischmann - Weiss - Versteeg
Huberdeau - Goc - Upshall
Kopecky - Matthias - Mueller
Kovalev - Santorelli - Skille
Campbell - Kuba
Jovanovski - Ellerby
Stratchan - Caruso
Possible Scratches: Parros, Smithson
Out: Bergenheim, Gudbranson, Kulikov, Weaver
Scouting the Enemy
The Panthers won five of six meetings against the Hurricanes last season, one of them coming on the last of game of the season to clinch a Southeast Division title. The Panthers are not paper tigers, as they are a pretty decent team at controlling the play at even strength, but they had a lot of things go right for them last season. They picked up 18 of their points from shootout losses and accumulated 52 of their 94 points in one-goal games, which is a tell-tale sign of luck playing a role in their success. That being said, this team had Carolina's number last year for whatever reason and getting a win over them would be a nice way to start a new season for the Canes.
The Panthers come into tonight's game with a somewhat depleted roster, as they will be missing four total players tonight, three of which being defenseman. Not having Gudbranson and Bergenheim in the lineup is obviously stings, but the Panthers are also going to be without their entire second defense pairing with Mike Weaver sustaining an injury in a scrimmage the other night and Dmitry Kulikov not coming to terms on a contract until the last minute. This probably means that two of Keaton Ellerby, Ed Jovanovski, Michael Caruso or Tyston Stratchan will have to take on a bigger workload than they are used to. This will obviously put a big strain on their defense and create a favorable matchup for Carolina's second and third lines. That is, unless Kevin Dineen plans to have Brian Campbell and Filip Kuba set individual records for ice-time tonight.
Up front, Florida is less banged up and still has a very strong first line with Tomas Fleischmann, Stephen Weiss and Sean Bergenheim. Carolina fans already know enough about them, though but one guy who they probably haven't seen a lot of is youngster Jonathan Huberdeau, who will be making his NHL debut tonight. Huberdeau was the Panthers 1st round pick in the 2011 Draft and has been a stud in the QMJHL. He may get a chance to play in the top-six in Bergenheim's usual spot, which should be interesting to see. Florida needs secondary scoring in the worst way and he could give them the jolt they need. I'm not sure if putting him alongside Marcel Goc will work out, though, seeing how Goc is basically Florida's version of Brandon Sutter and plays extremely tough minutes.
Five Things to Watch For
- The biggest thing I'm going to keep an eye on is how Kirk Muller uses Jordan Staal. He's playing with completely different linemates than he had in Pittsburgh and could be used in a different role if Muller doesn't trust Dalpe or Skinner against other team's top lines. Staal is obviously good enough to get the job done on his own, so he may continue to use him the same way he was in Pittsburgh. If Muller decides to shelter him then we should be in for a wild ride.
- Gleason/Corvo vs. the Weiss line is going to be a key matchup for this game. This will be the first time in awhile that Corvo has been placed in a shutdown role and going up against the third best line in the Southeast will be a good test for him and Gleason.
- Keep an eye on the pace of play to see how much the Canes have improved at preventing shots and chances against. This is one area Muller wanted the Canes to improve on this year and they have a good chance to get that off on the right foot with the shape Florida's defense is in. I know it's only the first game of the year and everyone is going to be rusty but if the Canes can not take advantage of a defense pairing featuring a 36-year-old Ed Jovanovski and Keaton Ellerby then I will have some major concerns about this season. Not really, but this is a matchup the Hurricanes should be able to exploit with their top-six.
- Bobby Sanguinetti is apparently going to be in the lineup for opening night and that is very exciting news for the future of Carolina's blue-line. He has played so well in Charlotte and in camp, so it's great to finally see him get a shot. He'll be on the third pairing, so it'll be in a limited role but it's been awhile since I was able to get a good luck at his play and it will be interesting to see how he performs.
- Dalpe and Boychuk are getting shots in the top-six right off the bat and everyone in Caniac Nation is going to keep an eye on their performance.These are two of Carolina's top forward prospects and were not long ago expected to be top-six players in the NHL. Those expectations have dwindled in recent years but both have been fantastic in Charlotte during the lockout, so their hard work has earned them another chance. Will they be able to take advantage of it? We'll have to wait and see about that, but the fact that they are being used in significant roles instead of being plugged on the fourth line has to make a lot of people happy.
Well folks, it's been a long wait but here's hoping that tonight's game and this season makes up for it. Sit back and enjoy the game. Oh, and Let's Go Canes!
BEST OF MAXIM
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Carolina Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford liked the core of his team enough at the end of last season that instead of moving players from a club that didnt reach the postseason, he systematically added parts.
Gone, at least for now, is the perception that this is a penny-pinching organization trying to massage a playoff spot out of a group that too often...
Having already agreed to terms with veteran winger Alex Kovalev, the Florida Panthers announced Friday they had bolstered their defense by resigning a young player.
The team reached a two-year deal with 22-year-old defenseman Dmitry Kulikov, who has played his entire NHL career with the Panthers.
Dmitry is a young, talented and hardworking defenseman who continues to develop, general...
SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Florida Panthers opened their season with a subdued banner raising. They waited until the puck dropped to set off the fireworks.
Florida began its defense of the Southeast Division title Saturday night, unleashing its revamped second line of Jonathan Huberdeau, Peter Mueller and Alex Kovalev on the unassuming Carolina Hurricanes. The trio combined for two goals...
The Florida Panthers and right-winger Alex Kovalev agreed to a one-year deal, the team announced Friday.
The 18-year NHL veteran turns 40 next month and has scored 428 career goals to go with 596 career assists.
Alex is a veteran player with great skill and vision who we are pleased to have signed, Panthers general manager Dale Tallon said in a release. He is a talented forward with...
The Florida Panthers signed veteran right winger Alexei Kovalev to a one-year deal worth $1 million. The contract also includes the opportunity earn additional bonuses, TSN reported. Kovalev, 39, has been out of the NHL since the 2010-11 season when he appeared in 20 games for Pittsburgh and had two goals and five assists. Last season, he played 22 games in his native Russia...
(Eds: With AP Photos.) By TIM REYNOLDS AP Sports Writer Alex Kovalev's first NHL appearance came before Jonathan Huberdeau was born. For that matter, it even predates the first game in Florida Panthers' history.
He's a tad experienced, to put it mildly.
At 39, with his name already etched on the Stanley Cup and with 429 goals - and counting - to his credit, there isn...
The Florida Panthers signed right wing Alex Kovalev to a one-year contract on Friday, and he is available for the reigning Southeast Division champions when they open the season against Carolina on Saturday night.
The 39-year-old Kovalev has played in 1,302 NHL games with the New York Rangers, Pittsburgh, Montreal and Ottawa, with 428 goals and 1,024 points. He was with the Panthers...
A night that began with excitement and tension ended in disappointment and frustration as the Carolina Hurricanes dropped their first game of the season in a blowout loss to the division rival Florida Panthers. With the schedule being so heavy on divisional play, getting wins or at least strong performances against teams like Florida, Washington, Tampa Bay and Winnipeg is going to...
Restricted free agent defenseman Dmitry Kulikov has signed a two-year deal with the Florida Panthers worth $5 million, TSN reported. Kulikov, 22, had four goals and 24 assists in 58 games last season for Florda.
Florida Panthers Season Preview
Record Last Year: 38-26-18
Goal Differential: -24
Team 5v5 Fenwick: 50.35% (13th in NHL)
5v5 Sh%: 7.2%
5v5 Sv%: .925
PP SF/60: 48.8 (13th in NHL)
PK SA/60: 54.3 (26th in NHL)
Aside from the Phoenix Coyotes and maybe the Ottawa Senators, no team exceeded their expectations more than the Florida Panthers did last season. Pegged...
It's a new year, which means that it's time to restart our regular breakdowns of the Hurricanes scoring chance numbers. Wish that I could begin this on a happier note but the Hurricanes didn't get off to the start they planned last night, losing their season opener 5-1 to the Florida Panthers. I know that breaking down the gruesome details of a blowout loss is never fun...
SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) -- Not long after the Florida Panthers paid tribute to their past, Jonathan Huberdeau offered a glimpse of their future.
Huberdeau's first NHL shot resulted in his first NHL goal and opened an early Florida scoring barrage, as the Panthers unfurled their Southeast Division championship banner and went on to ease past the Carolina Panthers 5-1 in the opener...
SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Florida Panthers scored four goals in the first period, including three on the power play, and cruised to a 5-1 victory Saturday night over the Carolina Hurricanes. It was the Panthers' first four-goal period since Dec. 17, 2010, when they blitzed Buffalo in the opening 20 minutes. Saturday's outburst was made extra special since it was the season...
Game time: Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
TV: FOX Sports Florida
There's one last order of business to complete before the Florida Panthers can finally get this season started.
It comes Saturday night, not long before the puck drops against the Carolina Hurricanes, and it's a moment 12 years in the making. The Panthers will pay homage to last season one more time, with the hoisting...