Florida Panthers at New York Rangers - Game 40 Preview

Florida:20-12-7 (47PTS)
New York Rangers: 24-9-4 (52PTS)
Season Series: 1-2-0
Game Time: 7:00 PM EST
Television: Fox Sports Florida, MSG
Radio: 560 WQAM

The Panthers play their final game of the season against the New York Rangers tonight. The last game between the two clubs ended in an ugly incident where Tomas Kopecky sucker punched Michael Del Zotto after Del Zotto took Kopecky's helmet off with the end of his stick. Mike Rupp got involved, pulling Kopecky away from one of the linesmen to get a few punches in. Kopecky garnered a match penalty and Rupp a game misconduct while Del Zotto got two for the high stick. Krys Barch picked up a 10 minute misconduct before the next faceoff, apparently for trying to start a fight. He threatened retaliation in tonight's game.

This part of the drama may not play out, though. Barch is unable to play tonight after being suspended a game for making an "insensitive" comment to Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban on Saturday. However, the Panthers were upset at their performance and at letting the Rangers push them around Friday and came out harder against the Canadiens Saturday. If the Panthers play the game the way they did against Montreal, the Rangers will have things tougher than they did last week.

More from our New York Rangers cohorts at Blueshirt Banter.
Panthers vs Rangers coverage at SB Nation.
SB NationPreview.
LBC Game Thread will open 30 minutes prior to puck drop.

News and Notes

Last meeting

Henrik Lundqvist picked up his second win of the season against the Cats as the Rangers beat the Panthers 4-1 in the first of two in Sunrise last Friday. That game got ugly late as Tomas Kopecky picked up a game misconduct for sucker punching Michael Del Zotto after Del Zotto knocked Kopecky's helmet off with his stick.

Last game

The Panthers held on to a one goal lead to beat the Canadiens 3-2 in what is allegedly the final New Year's Eve game featuring the Habs. Tomas Fleischmann proved the value of hitting the empty net as his empty net goal with 40 seconds left ended up the game winner as Erik Cole scored 10 seconds later.


Lineup

Goaltender Jose Theodore was injured Saturday night against the Canadiens and is expected to miss two weeks. Jacob Markstrom was called up from San Antonio to replace him. Forward Krys Barch has been suspended for a game for making "insensitive" comments to P.K. Subban during Saturday night's game against the Canadiens. Forward John Madden was signed for the rest of the season. It is not yet known whether he will play this week. He had his first practice with the team Wednesday. Mark Cullen was sent back to San Antonio in anticipation of the signing. Marcel Goc and Mikael Samuelsson are expected to return to the lineup tonight.

Injuries

  • F Scottie Upshall (hip), 11/10, 6 to 8 weeks
  • F Marcel Goc (concussion), 11/16, unknown
  • F Jack Skille (shoulder), 12/16, at least a week
  • F Sean Bergenheim (groin), unknown
  • F Marco Sturm (concussion), unknown
  • F Mikael Samuelsson (tailbone), day to day
  • G Jose Theodore (lower body injury), two weeks

Probable Healthy Scratches

Starting goaltenders:

In tonight's battle of the backups, Scott Clemmensen will face the Rangers' Martin Biron.

Projected Lines

Forwards
  1. Fleischmann-Weiss-Versteeg
  2. Kopecky-Matthias-Repik
  3. Samuelsson-Goc-Bradley
  4. Thomas-Kennedy-Santorelli
Defense
  1. Campbell-Garrison
  2. Jovanovski-Gudbranson
  3. Kulikov-Weaver
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