LBC GameDay Preview: Winnipeg Jets Vs. Florida Panthers

USA TODAY Sports

The Panthers will play host tonight for our old friends - the Winnipeg Thrashers Jets.

Florida will play host tonight for our old nemesis, the Winnipeg Jets in the BB&T Center in Sunrise, FL. They'll close the two-game season series back in Winnipeg on December 20th.

Florida is in the last game of a mostly disappointing five-game homestand. After opening with a promising 3-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on November 25th, they've suffered three straight multi-goal defeats, 5-2 to the Rangers last Wednesday, 5-1 to the Penguins on Saturday, and 4-2 to the Senators on Tuesday. After this matchup, they'll hit the road for a two-game trip this weekend, against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday and the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday.

Winnipeg is playing in the fifth game of a season-high six-game road trip. They started with a 3-1 win over the Devils on November 25th and a 3-2 triumph over the Islanders last Wednesday. They then lost a 2-1 decision to the Flyers on Friday before defeating the Rangers, 5-2 on Monday night. They'll close it up on Saturday in Tampa Bay against the Lightning.

It was April 11th last season when these two last met. The fringe playoff 20-19-2 Jets were playing host to a disappointing 13-20-6 Cats team. Both teams scored twice in the first seven minutes of the first period before the Panthers allowed five straight goals to drop the game, 7-2. T.J. Brennan (3) and Tomas Fleischmann (9) each scored a goal and an assist. Jacob Markstrom took the loss, allowing six goals on 23 shots before giving way to backup Scott Clemmensen. For the Jets, Evander Kane (15, 16), Aaron Gagnon (2), Andrew Ladd (16), Grant Clitsome (PP, 4), Dustin Byfuglien (7) and Chris Thorburn (2) scored goals. Ondrej Pavelec stopped 25-of-27 Panthers shots for the win. * Full Recap * Box Score

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Panthers @ Jets 04/11/13 (via NHL)

Fleischmann spoke later about Florida's effort level:

Lately we've played really good hockey. [This loss] just kicks us back. I don't know. We have to figure it out in the dressing room and stop this bad effort in the second. We've got to learn from it and make sure we don't do it in our next game Saturday.

Arctic Ice Hockey has all your Jets news.

Florida played the Senators in Ottawa on Tuesday, and scored two power-play goals (by Jonathan Huberdeau (6) and Brian Campbell (4)) in the first to take a rare 2-0 lead. Ottawa scored two in the bottom of the frame to pull even. The Sens peppered Tim Thomas for 45 shots, scoring four times in total for the win. Despite the two early goals, Craig Anderson extended his mastery of his former team by stopping 30-of-32 shots in total. He's 10-1-1 against the Cats over his career. Joe Corvo (2), Erik Condra (2), Colin Greening (PP, 4), and Bobby Ryan (14) tallied the Senators' markers. * Full Recap * Box Score

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Senators @ Panthers Highlights 12/03/13 (via NHL)

Brian Campbell encapsulated Florida's recent struggles:

It's frustrating. It's been very frustrating. I feel like we're close, but we still make those major mistakes that cost us all the time, and they don't seem to be leaving our game. They seem the same amount every night we play. It sums it up.

For more on Ottawa, go to Silver Seven.

The Jets defeated the Rangers, 5-2 on Monday night. Devin Setoguchi (7), John Albert (1), Olli Jokinen (5, 6), and Blake Wheeler (EN, 6) scored for the Jets. Ondrej Pavelec made 35 saves, allowing goals to Ryan Callahan (7) and Mats Zuccarello (4). Rangers backup goalie Cam Talbot took the loss, making 25 saves. * Full Recap * Box Score

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Jets @ Rangers Highlights 12/02/13 (via NHL)

Ex-Panther Olli Jokinen talked about scoring his first goal afterward:

Sometimes you get the bounces. I wasn't expecting it at all. I was just trying to be third guy high. Somehow the puck came to me and I was able to put it in. It was a lucky bounce, that's for sure.

The Rangers are featured over at Blueshirt Banter.

Game Time: 7:30 PM

TV: TSN-JETS, FS-F

Line: Jets -113.0, 5.5 O/U

All-Time Series: Florida is 31-31-12-5 all-time against the Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets franchise.

Season Series: First of two contests.

Standings

Florida Panthers: 7-16-5, .339, 19 points, on pace for 56 measly points. Seventh in the Atlantic Division, 15th in the Eastern Conference, 29th in the NHL. Last five: O-W-L-L-L.

Winnipeg Jets: 13-12-4, .517, 30 points, on pace for 85 points. Tied for fifth in the Central Division, tied for 10th in the Western Conference, tied for 16th in the NHL. O-W-W-L-W.

Common Thread

Jets defenseman Keaton Ellerby spent 125 games over parts of four seasons with the Panthers, scoring two goals and 15 assists with a minus-21 rating, 70 PIM, and just over 13 minutes per game.

Jets winger Michael Frolik scored 50 goals and 67 assists in 213 contests for the Panthers, ending with a trade to the Blackhawks in February 2011.

Winnipeg center Olli Jokinen is Florida's all-time leader with 188 goals scored and with 419 points. He also had a franchise second best 231 assists in 567 games over seven seasons.

Panthers blueliner Mike Weaver made his NHL debut with the Thrashers in 2001. He played 57 games with them over three seasons, tabbing six assists and a minus-6 rating.

Probable Starting Lineups

Florida Panthers

Forwards

Jonathan Huberdeau * Nick Bjugstad * Scottie Upshall
Sean Bergenheim * Aleksander Barkov * Brad Boyes
Jesse Winchester * Marcel Goc * Tomas Fleischmann
Jimmy Hayes * Shawn Matthias * Krys Barch

Defensemen

Brian Campbell * Tom Gilbert
Erik Gudbranson * Dylan Olsen
Mike Mottau * Mike Weaver

Goaltenders

Tim Thomas * Scott Clemmensen

Winnipeg Jets

Forwards

Andrew Ladd * Bryan Little * Blake Wheeler
Chris Thorburn * Olli Jokinen * Devin Setoguchi
Matt Halischuk * Mark Scheifele * Michael Frolik
James Wright * John Albert * Anthony Peluso

Defensemen

Dustin Byfuglien * Tobias Enstrom
Keaton Ellerby * Mark Stuart
Jacob Trouba * Grant Clitsome

Goaltenders

Ondrej Pavelec * Al Montoya

Special Teams

Power Play % Power Play Rank Penalty Kill % Penalty Kill Rank
Panthers 12.4% 28th 75.3% 28th
Jets 11.2% 30th 83.3% 14th

Thanks for reading today's preview. Make sure to check back later for the LBC GameThread, going live at 7 PM.


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