Florida Panthers at Colorado Avalanche - Game 45 Preview

Unfortunately, the Panthers haven't been able to put a game winner past Craig Anderson this season.

Florida: 21-14-9 (51PTS)
Colorado: 24-21-2 (50PTS)
Game Time: 9:30 PM EST
Television: Fox Sports Florida, Altitude
Radio: 560 WQAM

The Panthers visit Colorado tonight. The Avs have been uneven, but are only one point out of a playoff spot and one behind the Panthers. The Panthers had a hot start, but their record in their last ten games (3-4-3) is almost the worst in the league. Things are looking up as several Cats, including goaltender Jose Theodore, are set to return from injuries this week, forcing head coach Kevin Dineen to start sitting underperforming players in the press box. This competition for spots in the lineup was a big part of the Panthers' early season success and there is much hope that this will result in some more wins. In the meantime, the Cats have held on to their slim lead in the Southeast Division. The Islanders shut out the Capitals last night and the Devils beat the Jets, preserving the Panthers' lead for another day, though the Caps play in Montreal tonight.

More from our Colorado cohorts at Mile High Hockey.
Panthers vs Avalanche coverage at SB Nation.
SB Nation Preview.
LBC Game Thread will open 30 minutes prior to puck drop.

News and Notes

Last meeting

Stephen Weiss had the overtime winner and Tomas Vokoun made 22 saves as the Panthers topped the Avalanche 4-3 in Sunrise in December 2010.

Last game

The Panthers came back from a one goal deficit twice to force overtime against the Bruins on Monday. Weiss scored the first goal in the shootout, but it was followed by goals from Bruins Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci. The final score was 3-2 for the B's. Shawn Matthias scored this beauty on his way out of the penalty box:


Lineup

Goaltender Jose Theodore makes his return to the lineup tonight, so Brian Foster was returned to San Antonio. Ed Jovanovski injured his hand in Monday's game against the Bruins; the club reported today that he may be out up to two months following surgery to be performed tomorrow. Keaton Ellerby will take his place on the blueline. Scottie Upshall, Jack Skille and Sean Bergenheim are on the road trip, with all expected to play at some point. Marco Sturm is in Florida skating on his own. This will be Weiss' 600th NHL game.

Injuries

  • F Scottie Upshall (hip), 11/10, 6 to 8 weeks
  • F Jack Skille (shoulder), 12/16, at least a week
  • F Sean Bergenheim (groin), unknown
  • F Marco Sturm (concussion), unknown
  • G Jacob Markstrom (knee), 1/7, 4 to 6 weeks
  • D Ed Jovanovski (hand), 1/16, 2 months

Possible Healthy Scratches

  • F Mike Santorelli
  • F Krys Barch
  • F Michal Repik
  • F Kris Versteeg (Twitter is currently all over the map on this. Via the club: "#FlaPanthers coach Kevin Dineen says if Versteeg doesn't play it's because of health not performance” Stay tuned.

Starting goaltenders:

Jose Theodore will get his first start since December 31; will face Colorado's J.S. Giguere.

Projected Lines

Forwards
  1. Fleischmann-Weiss-Versteeg
  2. Samuelsson-Goc-Kopecky
  3. Matthias-Madden-Repik
  4. Barch-Santorelli-Bradley
Defense
  1. Campbell-Garrison
  2. Kulikov-Ellerby
  3. Gudbranson-Weaver
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