NHL has new look: Arizona and Carolina both in the playoffs

Success smells like smoked barbecue for the Carolina Hurricanes. The more they win, the earlier tailgating begins at PNC Arena.

Saturday’s home game against the Buffalo Sabres starts at 7 p.m. “By noon there will be hundreds of people in our parking lot,” Hurricanes president and general manager Don Waddell said.

With the Hurricanes currently holding the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, they are in position for their first playoff appearance in a decade.

“Everyone was aware of the team, but now they are talking about the team,” Waddell said.

There is a similar story in Arizona, where the fan base has been energized by the Coyotes’ frenzied effort to qualify for the NHL playoffs for the first time since 2012. They occupy the Western Conference’s final wild-card spot.

Coach Rick Tocchet promised his injury-riddled team would “scratch and claw” their way to success, and they are 10-2 in their last 12 games.

From Kevin Allen of USA TODAY