Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE
Who is going to be the difference maker tonight? Of course, we'll have to watch, but past performance may give us some indication of what to expect. What Panther owns the Canes? Which Cane makes the Cats Staal? Read on for more.
If Shawn Matthias lights the lamp tonight, he will pass Mike Van Ryn into 46th all-time, with 26.
With a goal, Tomas Fleischmann will tie Bryan McCabe in 42nd all-time, with 28, and into a 48th place tie with Dave Gagner, with 62 points.
Mike Santorelli will tie Chris Gratton in 37th all-time with his next goal, number 30.
Ed Jovanovski's next goal will be his 33rd, moving him into a tie for 31st with Valeri Bure.
Brian Campbell's next assist will give him 50, tying him with Niklas Hagman in 39th all-time.
Today in Panthers History
The still new Florida Panthers took it to the Caps in Miami Arena by a final of 5-1. Bob Kudelski and Jesse Belanger each notched a pair of goals and Andrei Lomakin dished out three assists in the victory. John Vanbiesbrouck stopped 30-of-31 shots. Florida stood proudly at 19-17-8. To date, it is the only time that the Panthers have earned a victory on January 19th (1-7-1).
Longtime Buffalo Sabre Thomas Vanek turns 29 today. No current Panthers or Canes share his birthday.
Tomas Fleischmann - Stephen Weiss - Mike Santorelli
Alexei Kovalev - Peter Mueller - Jonathan Huberdeau
Scottie Upshall - Shawn Matthias - Tomas Kopecky
Jack Skille - Jerred Smithson - George Parros
Brian Campbell - Filip Kuba
Ed Jovanovski - Alexander Petrovic
Keaton Ellerby - Michael Caruso
Jose Theodore - Scott Clemmensen
Chad LaRose - Eric Staal - Jiri Tlusty
Alexander Semin - Jordan Staal - Jeff Skinner
Jussi Jokinen - Zach Boychuk - Drayson Bowman
Kevin Westgarth - Tim Brent - Patrick Dwyer
Joni Pitkanen - Tim Gleason
Justin Faulk - Jamie McBain
Jay Harrison - Joe Corvo
Cam Ward - Dan Ellis
Panthers Injury Report
Forwards Kris Versteeg, Marcel Goc, and Sean Bergenheim are nursing injuries, as is defenseman Mike Weaver. D-man Dmitry Kulikov has yet to join the team, but will play on the upcoming Canadian roadtrip.
Team Leaders (2011-12)
Brian Campbell - 49, Stephen Weiss - 37, Tomas Fleischmann - 34
Tomas Fleischmann - 61, Stephen Weiss - 57, Kris Versteeg - 54
Eric Staal - 46, Jussi Jokinen - 34, Jeff Skinner - 24
Eric Staal - 70, Jussi Jokinen - 46, Jeff Skinner - 44
Tomas Fleischmann has six goals and five assists in 34 career games against the Canes. Stephen Weiss has racked up 12 goals and 20 assists in 49 contests, while Kris Versteeg has three goals and three assists in 11 games. Jose Theodore is an impressive 20-13-3, .916 over his now 16 season career.
Jordan Staal has appeared against the Panthers 20 times, scoring three and dishing out nine. Older brother Eric has played the Cats 53 times, totaling 15 goals and 24 assists. Alex Semin, no stranger to the Cats, has 17 goals and 19 assists in 40 games. Cam Ward is 13-9-2, .904 vs the Panthers.
Around the NHL Florida and Carolina will be playing in one of 13 contests today. In other action-on-tap, we have the Philadelphia Flyers vs the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Ottawa Senators vs the Winnipeg Jets, and the Chicago Blackhawks vs the Los Angeles Kings, all at 3PM Eastern time. At 7PM, we also have the New York Rangers facing Boston, Toronto vs Montreal, the Devils vs the Islanders, and the Capitals vs the Lightning. Later still, Detroit visits St. Louis, Columbus plays the Predators, the Coyotes play in Dallas, Colorado visits Minnesota, and Vancouver faces the Ducks. Best day ever?
Impossible to know what's going to happen later. My best prediction is just a hair better than a shot in the dark. I'll say the Panthers skate to a 4-2 win after raising the banner. Hubs earns a goal and an assist, Versteeg and Mueller with a goal each, Weiss and Campbell with two helpers apiece. Theo improves his record against the Canes by stopping 31-of-33 shots, including a Semin breakaway, and Kuba adds an empty netter to finish it off. Think you could guess better? Leave your predictions below, we'll tally up the stats later and track our best seers through the season.