Tonight, the Panthers will visit the Vancouver Canucks in Rogers Arena for the first of two meetings this season. The Panthers will host the rematch on March 16th. Tonight marks the third game of a five-game road trip. The Panthers started out by going toe-to-toe with the Minnesota Wild, losing in the end, 3-2 on Friday. On Saturday, they surprised the Colorado Avalanche, 4-1. They'll follow tonight's game with matches against the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday and the Calgary Flames Friday.
Meanwhile, the Canucks are in the third game of a six-game homestand. They lost their third-straight game to open it, to the San Jose Sharks 2-1 in overtime on Thursday and followed that with a loss to the Dallas Stars, also 2-1, on Sunday. After the Panthers, they'll stick around to play the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday, the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday, and the Los Angeles Kings on Monday.
Florida last faced the Canucks way back on January 9th, 2012. The surprising 20-13-8 Panthers were hosting the 26-13-3 Canucks. Scott Clemmensen was perfect with 25 saves after giving up a goal after just three minutes, to Dale Weise. Florida came back with two in the second, by Dmitry Kulikov (4) and Marcel Goc (4). Goc also had an assist, as did Shawn Matthias, Tomas Kopecky, and Kris Versteeg. Roberto Luongo stopped 20 shots in the 2-1 Canucks loss.
Canucks @ Panthers 01/09/12 (via NHL)
Clemmensen talked a little later about something I hope is still true:
We believe that we can beat anyone in the League on any given night. Vancouver is one of the best teams in the League. We think we can beat them. We showed it tonight. It's the mentality of this team. We expect to compete. We expect to win.
For more about the Canucks, visit our friends at Nucks Misconduct.
In Florida's last game, the Panthers defeated a normally strong Colorado Avalanche crew, 4-1. Brad Boyes (7), Brian Campbell (3, PP), Tomas Kopecky (2) and Jonathan Huberdeau (5) all lit the lamp for the Cats, while Scottie Upshall had two assists, and Tom Gilbert had three. Tim Thomas gave up only one goal, to Ryan O'Reilly (8) while making 32-of-33 saves. Semyon Varlamov was notably human, giving up all four goals on 29 shots.
Panthers @ Avalanche Highlights 11/16/13 (via NHL)
Tim Thomas spoke about playing with the lead:
We actually got the lead. We haven't had the lead very often, but when we have had it, we've played pretty well. We play very composed with the lead, and that's a good sign. It's been our goal at times this year. The last thing we need is to have problems in that area. The last five games, the effort's been there -- maybe not for the full 60 minutes but for a good chunk of it.
For more the Avs, check out Mile High Hockey.
Stars @ Canucks Highlights 11/17/13 (via NHL)
It's a bad call. It's a made-up call. If it's a 50-50 call, then I buy it. If it's a 40-60, I buy it. Even 20-80. … Tough to take.
To read about Dallas, check out Defending Big D.
Game Time: 10:00 PM ET
All-Time Series: Florida is 6-9-6-2 when playing the Canucks, a .435 success rate.
Season Series: First of two meetings.
Florida Panthers: 5-11-4, .333, 14 points, on pace for 55 points. Seventh in the Atlantic Division, 15th in the Eastern Conference, 28th in the NHL. Last Five: L-L-W-L-W.
Vancouver Canucks: 11-8-3, .568, 25 points, on pace for 93 points. Fifth in the Pacific Division, ninth in the Western Conference, tied for 12th in the NHL. Last Five: W-L-L-O-L.
Join the talk later, when the game thread goes live, at 9:30 PM.