The Buffalo Sabres and Carolina Hurricanes are facing off for the first of three games on Thursday night. The Sabres are two points behind the Hurricanes for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with two games in hand. In the only other matchup of the season, the Sabres defeated the Hurricanes in Buffalo on January 13th, 3-2.
Thomas Vanek was injured against the New York Rangers on Tuesday night but is expected to be in the lineup for the Sabres against the Hurricanes. Here is what he had to say to the media about the injury:
"There's no time to sit out," he said in RBC Center.
The left winger is walking with a limp after taking a clearing attempt by the New York Rangers off his ankle Tuesday night.
"It's a little bit sore on the ankle, just like I expected. Just took the day off today and get ready for tomorrow," Vanek said. "Like I said, we'll tape it up and just go."
There is a little bit more to this matchup than just a playoff-relevant matchup between two teams. Its also a major rivalry between two fanbases that severely dislike each other. These two teams met in the 2006 Eastern Conference Finals and the hatred brewed from there. From our Hurricanes site, Canes Country:
It's always special when these two teams get together in Raleigh. Ever since the 2006 playoffs, when the Hurricanes prevailed in a tough seven game series for the Eastern Conference Championship, there has been bad blood between, if not the teams, then certainly the fanbases.
In some cases, friends and neighbors are cheering for opposite sides as many transplant Buffalo-nians take off their Carolina jerseys when the Sabres come to town.