Florida just concluded a four-game road trip with a 2-1-1 record, and will be opening a similar four-game homestand. After tonight's match, they'll host the Montreal Canadiens on Valentine's Day, the Tampa Bay Lightning Saturday, and the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday. The Capitals will be playing in the first game of their own three-game trip, facing the Bolts on Thursday and the New York Rangers Sunday.
Usually at this point in the preview, I'll recap the last time these two met, the last Panthers game, and the last opponent game. All three events are the same in this case, and have been covered ad infinitum. Do you really want to go over all that again? If you're the type that "has to," click here, otherwise, we're moving on.
This kid just can't catch a break.
Florida Panthers: 4-6-1, .409, 9 points, on pace for 39 points. Fourth in the Southeast Division, tied for 13th in the Eastern Conference, tied for 26th in the NHL. Last five: W-W-O-W-L, playoff odds: 8.1%
Washington Capitals: 3-8-1, .292, 7 points, on pace for 28 points. Fifth in the Southeast Division, 15th in the Eastern Conference, 30th in the NHL. Last five: W-L-L-L-W, playoff odds: 4.8%
Birthdays: Former Panther Brad Norton turns 38 tomorrow. In 22 games with the Panthers during 2001-02, he totaled 2 assists and 45 penalty minutes.
This Date in Panthers History: 2004
Niklas Hagman scored twice, and Olli Jokinen, Valeri Bure and Darcy Hordichuk each added one as the Panthers dusted the hapless Pittsburgh Penguins, 5-1. Matt Cullen earned two assists on the night, and world-class goaltender Roberto Luongo stopped 34-of-35 shots for Florida. The Panthers improved to 20-23-11-3, while the Pens dropped to 11-38-5-3. All time on this date, the Panthers have a 6-3-0 record, and have won their last three on this date by a combined score of 14-2.
Tonight's possible FLA lineup, as of 10 a.m.:
- Fleischmann - Weiss - Versteeg
- Huberdeau - Shore - Mueller
- Kovalev - Goc - Kopecky (or some variation on wing)
- Matthias - Smithson/Skille/Parros
- Campbell - Gudbranson
- Weaver - Kulikov
- Strachan - Kuba
Already been widely circulated that Alex Kovalev is very likely to return, so we're guessing Parros sits, while Kevin Dineen has not yet publicly named his goaltender. Jovo (lower body) is out of the lineup for at least another week. From the No Surprise files: G Braden Holtby (27 saves on Saturday) will get the start in net for Washington. For a look at all things Capitals, check out our pals at Japers Rink. Be sure to tune in for the LBC GameThread, going live at 7 p.m.
UPDATE: Clemmer IN, Smithson OUT.