Florida: 16-9-6 (38PTS)
Calgary: 14-14-3 (31PTS)
Season Series: 0-0-0
Game Time: 7:30 PM EST
Television: SportsNet West
Radio: 560 WQAM
Former Panthers Olli Jokinen and Jay Bouwmeester visit Sunrise tonight. Jokinen was, of course, team captain for much of the darkest period of team history. He led the attempted dressing room revolt against Jacques Martin, which resulted in his being fired as coach, but inexplicably retained as general manager. For his efforts, Jokinen was traded to Phoenix for Keith Ballard and Nick Boynton while cohort Nathan Horton hung on for a few more years before being traded to the Bruins by incoming general manager Dale Tallon. Although it was obvious he'd quit trying by the end of his time in Florida, Jokinen is generally still well regarded by the fans.
Bouwmeester, on the other hand, is not. He is known in Florida for being a soft defenseman who nevertheless could put up a good number of points when paired with a stay-at-home defenseman like Karlis Skrastins or Bryan Allen. He is also known for requesting a trade 18 months prior to his being eligible for free agency and then refusing to admit that he had. For his part, Jacques Martin continued to attempt to "persuade" Bouwmeester to remain with the club and then bailing right before his last contract ended. It was probably Martin's mishandling of this situation that infuriates fans, more than anything else he did as general manager.
The Panthers have been terrible against the Flames at home (1-4-2-2), lending extra drama to tonight's game, which will not be on local television.
News and Notes
Tomas Vokoun shut out the Flames and the Panthers won 3-0 on goals from Radek Dvorak (2) and Shawn Matthias in the first week of last season. The Panthers have won their last couple in Calgary, but lost to them at home.
The Devils got revenge for their first loss in Sunrise in a familiar scene, with the Panthers blowing a two goal lead to lose in a shootout. Before the collapse, Kris Versteeg scored this beautiful shorthanded goal against Martin Brodeur:
Erik Gudbranson missed the last game with a minor injury. Keaton Ellerby took his place in the lineup. According to the club, head coach Kevin Dineen has said that whether or not Gudbranson plays tonight will be a "a game-time decision." Mark Cullen, who was injured after being called up a few weeks ago, was returned to San Antonio yesterday. A status update on Scottie Upshall and Marcel Goc said that while both were present at the Panthers Foundation's Ice and Dice casino night earlier this week, neither are expected to return to the ice until after Christmas.
- F Scottie Upshall (hip), 11/10, 6 to 8 weeks
- F Marcel Goc (concussion), 11/16, week to week
- D Keaton Ellerby OR
- D Erik Gudbranson
Depending on whom you believe (the club or the press), the starting goaltender is either a game-time decision or Jose Theodore is starting for the Panthers. For the Flames, Miikka Kiprusoff played in last night's loss to the Lightning. With the Flames playing three games in four nights, backup goaltender Leland Irving, called up from Abbotsford on December 5, may make his NHL debut this evening.