Buffalo (52-24-6) at Carolina (52-22-8) 7:00 pm EDT
RALEIGH, North Carolina (Ticker) - It is only fitting that the
2006-07 NHL season begins where the previous one ended.
The Carolina Hurricanes raise their championship banner to the
rafters of the RBC Center on Wednesday before they kick off
their title defense with a matchup against the Buffalo Sabres.
Carolina captured the first Stanley Cup title in franchise
history in June, defeating the Edmonton Oilers in an exciting
seven-game series. The Hurricanes captured the championship at
home, where they also defeated the Sabres in Game Seven of the
Eastern Conference finals.
Buffalo actually held series leads of 1-0 and 2-1 in the
conference finals before losing three of the last four contests.
Five of the seven games were decided by one goal.
The Sabres lost a few free agents in the offseason, including
defenseman Jay McKee and left wing J.P. Dumont. Their primary
acquisition was blue-liner Jarsolav Spacek, who split last
season between Chicago and Edmonton.
Carolina spent most of the summer losing free agents to other
teams. After coming over in midseason trades last year, Doug
Weight and Mark Recchi departed, as did top defenseman Aaron
Ward and underrated center Matt Cullen.
The Hurricanes once again will rely on a balanced scoring
attack, led by Eric Staal and Rod Brind'Amour, and the
goaltending of Cam Ward, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy as a
rookie last year.
Carolina won three of four regular-season meetings with Buffalo