Today, there will be two very big sporting events going on in the Raleigh-Durham area. For a while, they'll be overlapping.
The biggest will be the Duke-UNC basketball game. This happens twice a season, but the second one is always the most important game of the season for each team. Even in the seasons where one team or the other is having a sub-par year, this is the big game. These two teams hate each other with burning passion. The coaches hate each other. The fans hate each other. The mascots hate each other. This is the biggest rivalry in college basketball. Maybe in all of sports.
I am a Tarheel fan. This means that as I drive home from the hockey game, I've got Woody Durham on the radio. I should make it home for the last few minutes of regulation.
In Raleigh, the Sabres are in town for a 7:00 date. This is also a huge game. Carolina is looking to protect their lead in the SE division (and will hope that Boston can beat Washington today). Buffalo is looking to get back on the inside of the playoff bubble. This is another scenario where the two teams don't have love for each other. Every time they've played in the past two seasons, both teams really bring everything they have. Last season, the Sabres won all four meetings.
On October 24 this season, Carolina won 6-2 at home. On December 1, the Sabres embarrassed the Canes 8-1 at HSBC Center. I don't expect either team to blow the other out in this game.
There's quite a lot on the line for both teams in this game. Unfortunately, there might be a bunch of empty seats and/or a bunch of people leaving at the second intermission. It's hard to explain just how big the Duke-Carolina thing is. If you're from here, you get it. People center their entire year around this Duke-Carolina game. The point is, there won't be very many people buying tickets at the gate. The ones who do will probably be Sabres fans. They always have a good crowd due to a large number of transplants and a bunch of people who drive down.
Carolina has been glowing hot at home lately. They've been hot no matter where they play, but very very hot at home. The Sabres have been idle since Wednesday and have presumably been in Raleigh since Friday.
The Sabres are beset with injuries. Centermen Tim Connolly (hip) and Joken Hecht (leg) are both listed as day-to-day. Defenseman Henrik Tallinder has a shoulder injury. Teppo Numminen is still on the long term IR after having heart surgery in the off-season. Connolly and Hecht are listed in the unofficial lineups for tonight, but I suppose only Lindy Ruff knows at this point.
Only one new injury for the Hurricanes. Defenseman Glen Wesley will sit this one out with a hurt foot. Ray Whitney is still bothered by a swollen ankle. Rod Brind'Amour, Chad LaRose and Justin Williams are of course all out for the remainder of the season. Defenseman David Tanabe is out for the remainder of the season.
As always, check out BFLOBlog for good Sabres perspective. The guys over at Sabre Rattling seem to have retired their keyboards. Just two posts since December 5.
Recap will be up late tonight.
Don't forget to set your clocks forward one hour. Daylight savings time begins at 2:00 am.
5 years ago