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Gameday: Colorado Avalanche @ Florida Panthers, BankAtlantic Center

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Peter-budaj_medium

Your papers, please, Mr. Flanders...

Avs at Cats, 5pm, FSN-FL (no HD. So blasphemously jonesed.)

Panthers: 14-13-4 32P, 3rd in SE Avalanche: 16-15-1 33P, 4th in NW

All-time: 16-5-3, COL

Game 1 of 1

One can safely conclude that the "rivalry" between Florida and Colorado - based solely on one playoff appearance matchup 12 years ago - never was more than bluster. So get that out of your head before expecting Bruins/Habs-style hatred. Even Sakic's out of this one.

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Fleur de lis and Cap'n Joe go hand in hand.

And that is a shame. Joe Sakic is worth the price of admission alone, if only to see a soon-to-be Hall of Famer in action. Wanna age me? I watched him as a Nord. A rookie Nord. Speaking of that, if Quebec City were to get another NHL team, would headlines across North America inevitably read "Revenge of the Nords"? Killin' myself here.

Oh well. When you're so committed to being the best in your sport, little time is left over for garnering any useful skills in the operation of large power tools. Looks like three months for the guy. Tragic, if his career end with a thud of this type. But fear not: Peter Budaj's in town! Paul Stastny is bursting with talent. Can't think of anything else for the guy cuz he's out west and his entire family played for Quebec at one point or another. Which is kewl.

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Manny, Moe, and Peter Stastny

Karlis Skrastins sees his former club for the first time since his acquisition by Florida last year, while Ruslan Salei is doubtful for tonight, spoiling his return to Sunrise.

As for the Cats, "Hot" defines soon-to-be-ex-Panther Jay Bouwmeester, who has goals in four of the last eight games, and of the last three matches he has two markers (cue league-wide spotlight). For the Avs, Paul Stastny attempts to stretch his goal-scoring streak to four games.

Check in around 5ish for the obligatory Open Thread!

BATTERED AND BRUISED


Florida Panthers Injuries

Questionable

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Jassen Cullimore flu-like symptoms 12.19.2008

Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Rostislav Olesz strained groin 12.6.2008
Bryan Allen left knee surgery 10.12.2008
Cory Murphy shoulder 10.29.2008

Cullimore should be ready to rock.


Colorado Avalanche Injuries

Questionable

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Marek Svatos back 12.19.2008

Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Joe Sakic herniated disc in back/broken fingers 12.3.2008
Brian Willsie sprained left knee 12.6.2008

Svatos is skating and may be inserted into the lineup come gametime.

IN THE NETS


GP MIN W L T EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2008 - Tomas Vokoun 19 1018 6 10 1 3 49 2.89 573 524 .914 1

T-Vo is 1-0-1 in his past two, both on the road, stopping 70 of 74 shots. Reclaiming the starter's role? He never lost it.


GP MIN W L T EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2008 - Peter Budaj 27 1574 11 14 1 1 74 2.82 732 658 .899 1

Budaj is 0-2 in his past two (one home, one away), stopping 45 of 54 shots. Tough stretch.

SOUTHEAST STATE OF MIND


Southeast Standings

GP W L OTL PT
Washington 34 20 11 3 43
Carolina 33 15 13 5 35
Florida 31 14 13 4 32
Atlanta 32 11 17 4 26
Tampa Bay 32 7 16 9 23

(updated 12.21.2008 at 4:08 AM EST)



Everyone but Florida played yesterday, and the results were pleasing: the Thrashers downed the visiting Bolts in regulation, as did Boston over Carolina at the TD BankNorthBailoutShawmutFleetCenter Garden on Causeway. The Caps, meanwhile, were slapped into submission by host Philadelphia, 7-1.

Today the Hurricanes travel to Montreal in a matchup of clubs playing the rear end of back-to-backs. The Habs defeated Buffalo 4-3 in OT Saturday.

Florida can close to within 9 points of idle Washington with a victory; two games in hand on the Caps remain. A Panther win and Carolina regulation loss would put the Cats one point back of second place; as well, Florida has two games in hand over the Hurricanes.


LITTER BOX LINERS

FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

And if you're going to the game, email me some photos and I'll post 'em up: pantherslitterbox@yahoo.com.