Remind me to send the Atlanta Thrashers a big fruit basket. That is, so long as the Canes beat them tonight.
If the Cardiac Canes win their remaining games—tonight in Atlanta and Saturday night against Tampa Bay in Raleigh—they will claim a playoff spot regardless of what other teams do. It's not an easy task, but it is a certainty.
After Carolina lost to the Buffalo Sabres last Sunday, there was the sense that if players weren’t setting up tee times they were at least programming golf course clubhouses into their smartphones. Not that the Canes players had given up—Carolina turned right around and shut out the Red Wings on Wednesday—but that the dry-erase marker on the conference standings board in the locker room might as well have been exchanged for a Sharpie.
Seventy-eight degrees and clear are the conditions as David Bell begins his third season as manager with an unlikely 20 returning players on the roster.
With the weirdness of the unbalanced Southern League schedule, unless they return in the league championship series this will be the Diamondbacks affiliate Mobile BayBears’ last visit to Eastern Wake County.
Daryl Thompson, the Mudcats’ one member of the Cincinnati Reds’ 40-man roster, will get the opening night start against Wes Roemer who is making his Double-A debut.
The night turns out to be a kick in the shin for the Mudcats, who give up five in the top of the ninth in a 7-4 loss.
RBC CENTER, RALEIGH—If they can just get in, then anything can happen.
Cam Ward stopped all 42 Detroit shots for his fourth shutout of the year, and Jeff Skinner became one of the youngest players of all time to reach the 30-goal mark in a season. Derek Joslin and Erik Cole also scored goals. Captain Eric Staal assisted on all three Canes scores as the team continued to play its best when it needs it the most.
Playoff scenarios simplify as each game's result goes in the books, but there are still a handful of ways for the Canes to make the postseason. The clearest is for Carolina to win their remaining games in Atlanta on Friday and back home against Tampa Bay on Saturday night. If Carolina wins out, and the Rangers go either 1-1-0, 0-1-1 or 0-0-2, or the Sabres go 0-0-2, then the Canes squeeze them out for eighth.
There are scenarios by which the Canes could get in if they suffer one more loss, but the Rangers would have to lose their remaining pair of games with Atlanta and New Jersey, both of which have nothing but pride to play for. Not bloody likely.
Scratch that. An extremely familiar look.
No fewer than 20 of the 24 active players for third-year manager David Bell’s club spent time in Zebulon last season.
Only infielder Neftali Soto, pitcher Mark Serrano and catcher Kevin Coddington — all of whom were at lower levels in the Reds organization last season — and outfielder David Cook - who was at Round Rock in the Texas Rangers organization - were in the Mudcats’ home clubhouse for the first time for Media Day on Tuesday.
“It’s really good to be back,” said Bell, who will be joined again by pitching coach Tim Brown and hitting coach Ryan Jackson, the former Durham Bull and Duke All-American. “I’ve had some good players for the last two years here and a lot of them are back. I’m very comfortable with the group we have here and know them well.
“I was telling them today it just has a feel of being a special season here. Having that experience at this level, several guys with two and three years — it’s just a good mix. But it doesn’t do a whole lot of good talking about it until we go out and play.”
No cool name like Shaka. But unless he's put on weight, he's got a wardrobe full of red (well, Crimson Tide) stuff from Alabama. He's Mark Gottfried, NCSU athletic director Debbie Yow's choice to replace Sidney Lowe. Thoughts?
(It occurs to me, after a moment's reflection, that Gottfried — mentioned by no one I know — was waiting in the wings, hoping Yow wouldn't land Shaka Smart, Brad Stevens or any of the other coaches she didn't land. At least she had MG as her hole card. But is he a king, a knave — or a deuce? He's no ace.)
This from Yow/State:
RALEIGH, N.C. — Former Alabama coach Mark Gottfried has accepted the position of head men’s basketball coach at NC State University. Experienced in rebuilding a men’s program, Gottfried competed in one of the nation’s toughest basketball conferences, the Southeastern Conference (SEC). He led the University of Alabama Crimson Tide to a No. 1 national ranking and has a record of outstanding success in the conference and in postseason play.
Director of Athletics Deborah A. Yow commented, “Our search has proceeded in an orderly manner and with excellent results. We are blessed to have hired a proven winner and an outstanding coach who is well prepared by experience and total commitment to lead in the rebuilding of Wolfpack men’s basketball. State is committed to having a consistently ranked Top 25 program and a successful NCAA postseason program, with student-athletes that are successful on the court and in the classroom. We have taken an important step in that direction with the hiring of Mark Gottfried as our leader of the program.”
"I am extremely excited about this opportunity and challenge," said Gottfried. "I have always had great respect for the tradition of excellence here at State and I look forward to helping build this basketball program into a national contender."
"I have known Debbie Yow for nearly 30 years and have admired her desire for greatness. After meeting with Randy Woodson, Debbie and the search committee, there is no question in my mind that we can achieve high levels of success here. That leadership combined with our world-class facilities and passionate fan base is a great foundation for building a championship program."
Prior to his stint at Alabama, Gottfried spent seven years as an assistant at UCLA and was on the staff when the Bruins won the 1995 national championship. He served as head coach at Murray State for three seasons, where he coached the Racers to three Ohio Valley Conference titles. His last squad at Murray State posted a 29-4 record.
Gottfried, 47, has served as an ESPN basketball analyst and is one of America’s most respected coaches. He brings a wealth of experience and achievement to the Wolfpack position.
He played basketball at Alabama and is the son of a basketball coach, Joe Gottfried, who served as athletic director at South Alabama for the last 28 years. His uncle, Mike Gottfried, was a longtime football coach and serves as an ESPN college football analyst. Mark was a freshman All-American and later led the Alabama team to three consecutive Sweet Sixteen appearances in the NCAA Tournament and was drafted by the Detroit Pistons.
Coach Gottfried’s Crimson Tide amassed over 210 wins during his 11 years as head coach. Gottfried led the program to two significant firsts by achieving a No. 1 ranking during the 2002-203 season and playing in the 2004 Elite Eight round of the NCAA tournament and five straight NCAA tournaments.
Coach Gottfried and his wife Elizabeth have five children, with the eldest son currently playing football at Stanford.
FSN SOUTH (TV)—It was the kind of goal that Cam Ward just doesn't give up.
But Ward only yielded a John Tavares goal in the second period, and the Hurricanes dug deep in the third to retake the lead and close out a 4-2 win that leaves them just a point back of the eighth and final playoff spot with four games remaining.
The Hurricanes' sixth win in their last seven games sets up a Sunday evening matchup in Raleigh with the Buffalo Sabres, who lost in overtime in Washington on Saturday night, that affords them the opportunity to pull into a playoff position or all but eliminate them from contention, depending upon the outcome.
Neither team mounted much scoring threat during the run of play. The Hammerheads, suffering the first loss of their preseason, featuring a lineup that included former RailHawk Andriy Budnyy. The RailHawks lone goal came in the 29th minute when former MLS midfielder Nick Zimmerman delivered a cross into the goalmouth and onto the waiting foot of Allan Russell, who punched the sitter into the back of the net.
One week away from the NASL season opener against the Puerto Rico Islanders, Carolina’s roster is still very much in flux. A couple of roster additions seen earlier in the preseason were not present tonight. But, fans got their first glimpse this preseason of Matt Watson, 34-year-old Scottish midfielder Stephen Glass, and goalkeeper Caleb Patterson, who returns to the RailHawks after a year with Miami FC. Patterson will compete for minutes with impressive newcomer Brad Knighton (yes, we can finally say his name), a former UNC-Wilmington standout who played three seasons in MLS before being waived in January by the Philadelphia Union.