The Carolina Hurricanes are the first team to advance to the NHL Final Four — hey, they’re smack-dab in the middle of college hoops country — after beating the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night.
Carolina, which beat the Panthers in the regular-season finale to win the Metropolitan Division over the Devils, won its second-round series in 5 games.
The Panthers, of course, could be Carolina’s opponent in the Eastern Conference finals if Florida finishes off the Maple Leafs.
Florida can punch its ticket to Raleigh for Game 1 with a win tonight in Toronto.
Although this is getting way ahead of things, the storylines for a Florida-Carolina series are plentiful although TV execs probably don’t think this would be the sexiest of matchups.
First, you would have three of the Staal brothers battling it out for the right to play for the Stanley Cup.
Paul Maurice, of course, has been linked to the Carolina organization since it was the Hartford Whalers.
Maurice was the last coach of the Whalers and the first coach of the Hurricanes — a team which relocated first to Greensboro before their arena was built in Raleigh.
The Panthers and Hurricanes had some fun back in the old Southeastern Division days.
This would obviously take that up a notch.
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW
Maurice has been keeping things light with postgame press conferences which are becoming very popular on YouTube.
While Maurice knows the Panthers have to take things serious, he wants them to enjoy this journey as well.
— The Panthers are back on the road, somewhere they have had plenty of success this postseason.
— Gus Forsling has been a big driver of the Panthers’ playoff run.
— Sergei Bobrovsky was terrific in net again Wednesday night. The Panthers lost, but leave Bob out of it.
— The Panthers did miss an opportunity to finish off the Leafs.
— The Panthers nominated captain Sasha Barkov for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy for his work on and off the ice.
— The Panthers redesigned their official Florida license tags which are available now.
— A lot of video is up on the FHN YouTube Channel including Game 4 postgame reaction from Paul Maurice, Sergei Bobrovsky and Sam Reinhart.
There is also pre-flight comments from Maurice, Sasha Barkov and Eric Staal.
To see all the videos, you can click the embedded videos below or head directly to the FHN YouTube Channel RIGHT HERE to see everything all in one place.
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NHL NEWS/NATIONAL HOCKEY NOW
The Leafs are going back with rookie goalie Joseph Woll tonight in Game 5.
— Dallas is closing in on the Kraken as they took control of their series with a Game 5 win on Thursday night.
— Ryan Reynolds appears out of the running for the Senators.
— Keith Jones moves from the TV booth to become president of hockey operations for the Philadelphia Flyers as Daniel Brière is officially the team’s GM.has the interim tag removed and is the official GM going forward.
— Are the Calgary Flames blocking former GM Brad Treliving from interviewing with other teams?
— It sounds like Evgeny Kuznetsov is ‘tired’ of life with the Washington Capitals.
— If Patrice Bergeron retires, the Boston Bruins will need a new captain. Brad Marchand?
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS
EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS
PANTHERS (WC2) AT TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (ATL2)
GAME 5 (Florida Leads 3-1)
- When: Friday, 7 p.m.
- Where: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto
- TV: TNT
- Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- First Round Schedule — Game 1: Florida 4, @Toronto 2; Game 2: Florida 3, @Toronto 2; Game 3: @Florida 3, Toronto 2 (OT); Game 4: Toronto 2, @Florida 1; Game 5: Friday at Toronto (TNT), 7; Game 6*: Sunday, May 14 at Florida (TBA); Game 7*:May 16 at Toronto (TNT). (*) – If Necessary
- How They Got Here: Toronto d. Tampa Bay 4-2; Florida d. Boston 4-3
- Season Series (Toronto won 3-1): Maple Leafs 5, @Panthers 4 OT (Jan. 17); @Maple Leafs 6, Panthers 2 (Mar. 23); Panthers 3, @Maple Leafs 2 OT (March 29); Maple Leafs 2, @Panthers 1 OT (April 10)
- Last season: Florida won 2-1
- All-time Regular Season Series: Toronto leads 48-36-7, 7 ties
- Postseason History: First Meeting