Sunrise--Florida Panthers' Head Coach Kevin Dineen knows that two can play the game when it comes to throwing rats down onto the ice at inappropriate times during playoff games at the BankAtlantic Center.
Since the popular plastic creatures, which have again become a staple at Panthers' post-season games after being all the rage during the mid- to late 1990s at the Miami Arena, are available for purchase or acquisition by anyone, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that they can also fall into the wrong hands.
That was apparently very much the case at Game 5 of the 2012 National Hockey League Eastern Conference quarter-finals in Sunrise on Saturday night.
During his press conference after Florida's 3-0 victory over New Jersey that left the Southeast Division champions just one win away from a berth in the Eastern Conference semi-finals, Dineen confirmed what a few media members in the press box thought they saw late in the third period on Saturday night.
New Jersey Devils fans were allegedly engaging in devilish behavior with several minutes left in that period when, despite pleas and warnings from the public address announcer, numerous rats continued to rain down from among the more than 19,500 in attendance.
"I'm a little concerned about the (throwing of the) rats in the middle of the game. I know there's a lot of Devils' fans throwing them out there trying to get us a delay of game penalty," Dineen said rather tongue-in-cheek but which apparent eyewitnesses found to be true.
New Jersey fans, most of whom follow the rules and have been class acts during the first three playoff games in Sunrise, have a segment of their population that is allegedly attempting to do whatever it takes to give their team an edge.
All's fair in love and war, but the referees apparently knew something might be up also and allowed the rats to be picked up with no disciplinary action against the Panthers.
Florida (3-2) will try to close out the first-round series when it travels to New Jersey for Game 6 on Tuesday night.