If the Carolina Hurricanes don't know how to make the playoffs, at least they throw a heck of a block party. Our boys of winter swap their skates for golf shoes and flip-flops this week, but not before one last home game against the Montreal Canadiens. It's Fan Appreciation Week, so the first 14,000 in the rink get a free hat. Arrive early not just to enjoy the NHL's best tailgating scene but to release your kids into the moon bounce and obstacle course, face off with another family in a game of street hockey (no checking), and flash your mad skills in the slap shot booth.
Once inside the rink, you can cheer on the Canes' strong finish and holler at a couple of Les Habitants for good measure. Wistful cheers may be lavished upon Montreal's Erik Cole, whose lusty game was sorely missed by Caniacs this year, and scornful hisses may be rained upon Tomas Kaberle, the big-dollar wraith who haunted the Carolina blueline for just 29 games before being unceremoniously dumped (no backsies, Habs). Tickets to the 7 p.m. game start at $20. —Chris Vitiello