by Jon Jordan on 04/09/11 at 03:35 PM ET
Down to the wire, indeed.
Game 82 tonight for the Carolina Hurricanes, against visiting division rival Tampa Bay could very well be a “win-and-in” situation for the home squad, depending on what the New York Rangers end up doing in today’s home tilt against New Jersey (2-1 Devils early in the second, as I type this).
With the ‘Canes currently in eighth, thanks to a greater number of regulation wins (35 to New York’s 34) after an even point total of 91, a Ranger loss in regulation today renders tonight’s game irrelevant. If the Blueshirts earn a single point, Carolina must at least do the same to regain eighth. New York wins, so must the Hurricanes.
Essentially, it’s follow the leader (or the trailer, as it were, in this case).
One thing that could fall in Carolina’s favor, if tonight’s meeting with Tampa does in fact become a must-win, is that the Lightning have wrapped up all they possibly can and are locked into the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference, awaiting either Philadelphia or Pittsburgh in the Conference Quarterfinals, depending on how the Atlantic Division race shakes out. (If the Flyers win tonight, that settles that. If not, that division title will be decided on the regular season’s final day.) The Bolts will rest some regulars tonight, though specifics have yet to be decided, other than forward Ryan Malone, who gets a scheduled game off, still transitioning to full-time duty after recovery from a late-season abdominal injury.
Regardless of what kind of motivation the Lightning have tonight, or what kind of lineup they field, should Carolina need even a point from this one, you can expect this scrappy bunch to come out flying.
All they could have asked for all along is right there now – the opportunity, on their own, to fight their own way into the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Best wishes to Lightning assistant coach Wayne Fleming, recently diagnosed with a brain tumor, as the team announced today.
In the official statement, Tampa Bay indicated that the amount of Fleming’s postseason involvement with the team will depend on his comfort level during the treatment process.
Finally today, an update on the upcoming #BeardOff!
As you should already know, your official entry comes by way of submitting a clean-shaven photo to me via Twitter, along with the team that gets your playoff allegiance, some time after the final regular season game (Dallas/Minnesota, a 6:00 PM ET start) tomorrow and 11:59 PM ET on Monday.
Along with this information, if entries wish to be eligible for prizes, they must include their Kukla’s Korner username. If you are not yet a KK member, you can register here
Two $25.00 gift certificates to IceJerseys.com will be awarded at the end of the Stanley Cup playoffs, regardless of how far one’s team ends up going, as selected by myself and an anonymous panel of judges. One will go to he (she?) who is determined to have the grandest of all playoff beards and the other will be awarded to the worst.
I think that is truly the only other accolade to bestow.
The best of all beards… And the worst.
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