Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 10/10/08 at 08:59 AM ET
The unbearably long wait is finally over. Tonight is opening night for Carolina and 12 other teams. Thousands of hockey fans in Carolina will be cutting out of work early, or skipping work altogether. The RBC Center parking lot will fill up early and the sweet sweet smell of propane and grilled meat will be thick. Cold beer and loud music will be coming from every tailgate. Friendships will be renewed and new ones will be forged. The sun will be shining and the birds will be singing. It’s hockey night in Carolina.
Unfortunately, I won’t be there for opening night. Instead, for the first time since 2001, I’ll be watching the home opener from RBH headquarters.
This will be the NHL debut of Brandon Sutter, who was Carolina’s first round draft selection in 2007. It will also be the “real game” debut of the fully revamped blue line. Joe Corvo played very well for Carolina after coming over in the huge Corvo and Eaves for Commodore and Stillman trade in February. Joni Pitkänen, who came over in the huge Pitkänen for Cole trade will be the other featured piece of that defense with the offensive minded Anton Babchuk making his return after a year in Russia.
Due to the injuries to Justin Williams and Scott Walker, Patrick Eaves will have an excellent opportunity to play on the top line with Ray Whitney and Eric Staal.
Since Tuomo Ruutu and Rod Brind’Amour are just back from injuries, they may both be used sparingly. This will give Chad LaRose an excellent chance for some increased ice time. Also, look for the Sutter to have more minutes than usual from the fourth line center position.
It seems like ages ago when Florida knocked Carolina out of the playoffs back in April, and none of the Canes have forgotten that. They have also not forgotten that before that game in April, Carolina had completely owned the Panthers in the RBC Center.
Puck drop is at 7:00. Look for another post directly preceding the game.
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About Red and Black Hockey
David Lee is a restaurant manager with an unused degree in political science. He can be found at Carolina Hurricanes games, Scrabble tournaments and indie-rock shows. Sometimes, all in the same day.