The Florida Panthers, losers of three-straight, head into tonight's tilt with little left to play for over the final ten days of the regular season. Unfortunately, for New York fans, one thing the Cats could have in their power is potentially knocking the Rangers out of the playoffs. In addition to this evening's match-up, the teams will meet again next week in Sunrise. A couple of Panther victories could allow the suddenly red-hot Winnipeg Jets to leapfrog New York for eighth place in the Eastern Conference; sending fans in the 'Peg into whiteout ecstasy, the big-budget Rangers in search of tee times and giving Panther fans who hold the Rags in low esteem a little bit of something-something to feel good about as the Cats' season mercifully comes to a close.
The Panthers were successful their first time out against the Broadway Blueshirts this season, taking a 3-1 decision at Madison Square Garden back on March 21st, as Jacob Markstrom turned aside 44 shots in one of his best outings of the season. They will likely need the same type of performance in net from either Markstrom or Scott Clemmensen, depending on who gets the call tonight, to escape from New York with two points.
The Rangers were on a nice little run (5-1-1) before they opened the door a bit wider for the Jets by dropping a 4-2 decision to the Flyers on Tuesday in Philadelphia.
Veterans Tomas Fleischmann and Marcel Goc have been hot for the Panthers as of late, while recent Ranger acquisition Derick Brassard has delivered seven points in seven games since coming over from Columbus.
For the opposition's point of view, visit the fine folks over at Blueshirt Banter; the LBC Live GameThread kicks off at 6:30.