This game should be a great one. Columbus is in a similar situation as the Cats, fighting for their playoff lives, both teams trying to make it for the first time in years (and for the Jackets, the first time ever). For you Panther fans who may not be familiar with the Blue Jackets, I’ll hook you up with some quick info.
The Jackets have been hot, winning 5 of 6 and moving into prime playoff position in the West. They have 80 points, same as the Panthers, but in the West that’s good enough to get you a 6 seed, and a 5 point lead over the 9th place team. Must be nice, eh?
FEAR THE NASH
Columbus is led by captain Rick Nash and his line of R.J. Umberger and ex-Panther Kristian Huselius. They have all been heating up, none more then Nash. He’s got 7 goals in his last 7 games, and points in 11 of his last 16 games, and 19 points in that 16-game span. That also includes 3 power play points (1g 2a) and 2 shorthanded goals.
Umberger has 3 goals and 4 assists for a +3 rating in his last 6 games, while Huselius has 2 goals and an assist in his last 4.
Moving on to their Rookie Of The Year candidate, goaltender Steve Mason has been amazing in net, breaking out onto the NHL scene in a big way. He is having a season that most NHL goalies are jealous of, and like his forwards has picked it up of late. He has a save % of .932 in his last 5 games, stopping 167 of 179 shots. He also has a shutout and 4 wins in those 5 games.
|2008 - Steve Mason||50||2984||29||17||3||6||112||2.25||1371||1259||.918||9|
PANTHER LINEUP UPDATE…sort of.
The only possible change is that Nathan Horton might crack the lineup tonight. Horton skated this morning, his first time practicing with the team in a little more then 2 weeks, so it’s very doubtful that we see him tonight, as he probably isn’t in perfect ‘game shape’. However, it is likely that we’ll see him back for Monday’s huge tilt with the Raleigh Regional Dive Team.
Other then that, it’s the same lineup as Thursday. Nasty Nick and Eminger are still in, with Anthony Stewart and Nick Boynton riding the pine again.
Stephen Weiss sat out the morning skate due to 'not feeling so good' but is expected to go tonight.
Hopefully the Leafs left South Florida with a chip on their shoulder, because a big win over the Canadians in Montreal tonight would be great. Hockey Night In Canada at its best. The Hurricanes host the Capitals, and the Sabres are in Madison Square Garden for a certain ‘must win’ game against the Rangers. Buffalo is 4 points behind the Panthers and 6 behind the 7th place Rangers.
IN THE STANDINGS
Enjoy the game all, as I said…this should be a great one. Hopefully the BAC will be back with that ‘electric playoff atmosphere’ it showed in recent weeks. The Box goes live at 6pm!
LETS GO PANTHERS!!