Florida Panthers to use tarps to cover seats, save attendance

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PartyCity-TarpsTS.jpgWhen you think of the Florida Panthers, your first thoughts probably center around how the heck a hockey team exists in South Florida. For many, their first thought goes to them being a losing team with struggling attendance. For those people, the Panthers have devised a plan for you. They’re going to cover things up. Not with crazy press releases but rather with actual tarp. George Richards of The Miami Herald elaborates.

As reported earlier this summer, the Panthers are ‘downgrading’ the capacity at The Billboard this season, covering up more than 2,000 upper deck seats with tarps.

According to the team, the “22-piece tarp system sponsored by Party City will cover the last six rows of seats located on the terrace level.”

Tarps This coverage will not be for all games — but for almost all of them. When Montreal or Pittsburgh comes to town the tarps can be removed. They will also not be there for concerts and the like.

When the team moved from Miami Arena in 1998, seating capacity went from 14,823 in Miami to 19,250.

They obviously don’t need that much room.

“Our building is just too big,” team president Michael Yormark said back in May. “It would be too big for a lot of teams in the league.”

Knocking off that many seats now turns the Panthers arena in Sunrise, Florida into the third smallest in the league behind Edmonton’s Rexall Place and Nassau Coliseum, home of the New York Islanders. If you’re wondering, this isn’t the first time an NHL team has implemented the use of tarps so as to skew the attendance numbers/alter the appearance of the arena. Both the Carolina Hurricanes and Tampa Bay Lightning have used them in the past, although to their credit the buildings they played in at the time were cavernous. The Hurricanes played at Greensboro Coliseum and the Lightning played at current day Tropicana Field.

The upside of the tarp is that it helps make the attendance numbers not look terrible. The downside is that the tarp makes the inside of the arena look horrendous. At least the Panthers are getting a nice piece of advertising money out of the deal to help stave off some embarrassment.

(Photo: FloridaPanthers.com)

Here’s your Stanley Cup playoffs schedule for today

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After the Eastern Conference Game 2s played out on Saturday, we’re getting the Western Conference set today. You can watch the action via NBC Sports Group’s television and digital platforms.

Here’s a quick overview of where specifically you can watch the contests:

St. Louis at Dallas (3:00 p.m. ET)

If you want to watch the game on television, NBC is the channel to do that. If you want to stream the game with the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

Nashville at San Jose (8:00 p.m. ET)

The game will be televised on NBCSN. You can also stream the contest by clicking here.

Here’s some relevant pregame reading material:

With Eaves injured, Nichushkin will play for Stars in Game 2

Hitchcock, Blues know they need to slow down the Stars … but can they?

Sharks swarm in the third period, take down Predators in Game 1

Speed, skill help Stars score late victory to take series lead over Blues

Video: Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta

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The Pittsburgh Penguins have spoken out against a late, high hit that Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik threw on Olli Maatta early in the first period of an eventful Game 2 on Saturday.

Maatta left and didn’t return. He played only 31 seconds, and the Penguins were reduced to five defensemen for a large portion of the game. Orpik was given a minor penalty on the play, but the league’s Department of Player Safety may see it differently.

The hit occurred well after Maatta had gotten rid of the puck. He struggled on his way to the dressing room for further evaluation.

Based on multiple reports, Orpik wasn’t made available to the media following the game, which went to the Penguins as they earned the split on the road.

But the Penguins have taken issue with the hit.

“I thought it was a late hit,” said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, as per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “I thought it was a target to his head. I think it’s the type of hit everyone in hockey is trying to remove from the game.”

Game on: Penguins even series with rival Capitals

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The Pittsburgh Penguins will head back home with a split of their second-round series with the rival Washington Capitals.

Former Capitals forward Eric Fehr came back to burn his hold team, as he scored with under five minutes remaining in regulation to help lift the Penguins over Washington with a 2-1 victory in an eventful Game 2 on Saturday. Evgeni Malkin threw the puck toward the net and Fehr was able to re-direct it by Braden Holtby.

Oh, this was an eventful game, indeed.

It started early in the first period with Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik catching Penguins blue liner Olli Maatta with a late and high hit that warranted — at least for now — only a minor penalty for interference. Maatta, clearly in distress following the hit, didn’t play another shift and saw only 31 seconds of ice time in total, as Pittsburgh was reduced to five defensemen for the remainder of the game.

It continued in the third period. Kris Letang was furious after getting called for a trip on Justin Williams, and even more ticked off when the Capitals tied the game on the ensuing power play.

For two periods, the Capitals couldn’t get much going. Only four of their players had registered a shot on goal through 40 minutes, while the Penguins held the edge in that department and held the lead.

Washington came out with more jump in the third period, testing rookie netminder Matt Murray with 14 shots in the final 20 minutes. But the Penguins got the late goal to break the deadlock.

Video: Penguins’ Letang was furious after Capitals tie up Game 2 with power play goal

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Kris Letang watched from the penalty box as the Washington Capitals tied up Game 2 with a power play goal in the third period. The Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman was called for tripping after he appeared to muscle Justin Williams off the puck as he entered the zone.

Letang let his disagreement with the call be known at the time, and was furious after the Capitals capitalized on a goal from Marcus Johansson.

The Capitals started the period down a goal and being outshot 28-10 by the Penguins, who need a win to even the series.

Also, it seems this is worth mentioning: