The Florida Panthers are back in the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since their Miami Arena days after beating the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday night.
So, what is next for the Panthers?
The Carolina Hurricanes.
Florida and Carolina met up in the final game of the regular season with both teams needing the win for seeding purposes.
Had Florida won that night, it would have opened up against the New Jersey Devils in the first round.
Instead, Carolina won 6-4 in Sunrise to claim the Metropolitan Division title — one Jersey would have won had the Canes lost to the Panthers.
Carolina won 2 of 3 against the Panthers during the regular season although, as we have seen, that does not mean all that much.
Toronto, for instance, went 3-0-1 against the Panthers in the second half of the regular season.
The Hurricanes have looked good this postseason, beating the Islanders in 6 before knocking off the Devils in 5.
Florida will venture outside of the Atlantic for the first time in these playoffs after knocking out Boston and Toronto.
Games 1 and 2 will be in Raleigh with days and times to be announced by the NHL soon.
Florida will play host to Games 3 and 4.
Single game tickets for Florida’s three home games — Game 6, if necessary — go on sale at 11 a.m. on Saturday via Ticketmaster.com.
The two organizations have a number of ties with Florida center Eric Staal helping Carolina win the Stanley Cup in 2006.
This will be a battle of the Staal Brothers as Eric and Marc play for the Panthers; Jordan is captain of the Hurricanes.
Florida coach Paul Maurice is also entrenched in Carolina Hurricanes history.
He became the head coach of the Hartford Whalers at age 28 and then moved with the franchise to North Carolina.
Maurice had two stints as coach of Carolina — leading it to the Stanley Cup Final in 2002 where it lost to Detroit.
He also coached Carolina bench boss Rod Brind’Amore.
Eetu Luostarinen and Gus Forsling also have Carolina ties — Luostarinen is the last remaining member of the Vincent Trocheck trade from 2020 while the Hurricanes lost Forsling to the Panthers on waivers in 2021.
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS
EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
PANTHERS (WC2) AT CAROLINA HURRICANES (MET1)
- When: TBA
- Where: PNC Arena, Raleigh
- TV/Radio: TBA
- Series Schedule: TBA
- Season Series: (Carolina won 2-1): Florida 3, Carolina 2 (Nov.9); Carolina 4, Florida 0 (Dec. 30); Carolina 6, Florida 4 (April 13)
- All-Time Regular Season Series: Carolina/Hartford leads 71-46-10, 11 ties
- Postseason History: First Meeting
- How They Got Here — Carolina: d. New York Islanders in 6; d. New Jersey Devils in 5. Florida: d. Boston Bruins in 7; d. Toronto Maple Leafs in 5.