Florida Panthers at St. Louis Blues - Game 18 Preview

SUNRISE FL - FEBRUARY 8: Alexander Steen #20 of the St Louis Blues and Jason Garrison #52 of the Florida Panthers skate after the puck on February 8 2011 at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

Florida: 9-5-3 (21PTS)
St. Louis: 9-7-1 (19PTS)
Season Series: 0-0-0
Game Time: 8:00 PM EST
Television: Fox Sports Florida, Fox Sports Midwest
Radio: 560 WQAM

The Panthers continue their two game Central Time roadtrip with a game against the St. Louis Blues. The Blues struggled a bit early on the road and have already seen a coaching change because of it, with former Blue Jackets/Flyers/Stars coach Ken Hitchcock replacing the ousted Davis Payne. The Blues, however, have been solid at home, with a 6-1-1 record. They're 3-0-1 since Hitchcock took over last week. The Panthers, for their part, have been very good on the road, with a 7-3-0 record. Special teams could be the difference tonight. Both teams' penalty kill is about equal, but the Blues have the league's worst powerplay overall and are ranked 19th at home while the Panthers are 6th overall and tied for 7th on the road. The key for the Panthers will be scoring early. The Blues have yet to lose a game if they have held a lead at the end of a period. The Blues are also 7-3-2 at home against the Panthers. The Blues will be without forward Christ Stewart, who is serving a 3 game suspension for a hit from behind on Niklas Kronwall. A win tonight combined with a Capitals loss would put the Panthers back in first in the Southeast Division and catapult them from seventh to either second or third in a tightly packed Eastern Conference. A loss would likely see them lose their grip on seventh place.

More from our St. Louis cohorts at St. Louis Game Time.
Panthers vs Blues coverage at SB Nation.
TSN Preview.
LBC Game Thread will open 30 minutes prior to puck drop.

News and Notes

Last meeting

The Blues edged the Panthers 2-1 in Sunrise. Matt D'Agostini had the game winner and Halak the win. Dennis Wideman had the lone Panthers goal.

Last game

The Panthers outworked the Dallas Stars on Tuesday, winning 6-0. Stephen Weiss was a +5 and had four points. Scott Clemmensen picked up a shutout in his first start of the season. The Panthers got goals from two defensemen (Jason Garrison and Dmitry Kulikov with the game winner), all three members of the VFW line and Evgeni Dadonov with his second in two games. Tomas Fleischmann scored this beauty late in the second period:


Lineup

Jack Skille is expected to return today after missing Tuesday's game, but Matt Bradley is now expected to miss a week with an undisclosed injury, so call-ups Evgeny Dadonov and Tim Kennedy remain on the roster.

Injuries

  • F Mikael Samuelsson (rehab from abdominal surgery), 10/24, IR, week to week
  • F Scottie Upshall (hip), 11/10, IR, 6 to 8 weeks
  • F Jack Skille (groin), 11/13, day to day
  • F Matt Bradley (undisclosed), 11/16, 1 week

Healthy Scratch

Starting goaltenders:

Pucking Hockey is reporting that Scott Clemmensen will face Jaroslav Halak, choices that make sense for both teams. Scott Clemmensen is coming off a shutout and is 1-0-0 against the Blues with a 3.00 GAA and .903 save percentage. That lone game was a 4-3 road win for New Jersey in Clemmensen's last season as a Devil before joining the Panthers. Jose Theodore has not been great against the Blues. He was a 3-5-0 record with a 3.85 GAA and .363 save percentage. Jaroslav Halak is dynamite against the Panthers, going 6-1-0 with a 1.98 GAA and .936 save percentage, in games with the Blues, Blackhawks and Canadiens. Update: Theodore will get the start for Florida.

Lines

Forwards
  1. Fleischmann-Weiss-Versteeg
  2. Bergenheim-Goc-Kopecky
  3. Sturm-Santorelli-Dadonov/Skille
  4. Kennedy-Matthias-Skille/Dadonov
Defense
  1. Campbell-Garrison
  2. Jovanovski-Ellerby
  3. Kulikov-Weaver
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