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New York Rangers at Florida Panthers - Game 38 Preview

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Florida: 19-11-7 (45PTS)
New York Rangers: 22-9-4 (48PTS)
Season Series: 1-1-0
Game Time: 7:30 PM EST
Television: Fox Sports Florida, MSG
Radio: 560 WQAM

The Rangers make their annual New Year's week visit tonight as a warm-up for the Winter Classic on Monday. The Cats were embarrassed on their last visit to Madison Square Garden on their last visit and will likely have that in their minds tonight. They'll have those two points on their minds as well. After a rough stretch of a few games with no wins, the Panthers now hold the Southeast Division lead by only four points. They won the first game of three this week and would like nothing more than a nice home sweep to reestablish a commanding lead on the division. They also know the 24/7 cameras would be in the building and would prefer not to be a highlight in a blazing Rangers victory tonight.

More from our New York Rangers cohorts at Blueshirt Banter.
Rangers vs Panthers coverage at SB Nation.
SB Nation Preview.
LBC Game Thread will open 30 minutes prior to puck drop.

News and Notes

Last meeting

Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers blew out the Panthers 6-1 in New York in mid-December. Erik Gudbranson scored his first NHL goal, but little else went right in the game.

Last game

The Panthers came back after the Christmas break and overpowered the Maple Leafs 5-3. It was a good comeback from the 8-0 blowout against Boston before Christmas. The team was once again without seven injured forwards.

Lineup

The Panthers are talking to John Madden and some other, unnamed players in order to shore up the center position in light of the many injuries. Stephen Weiss is expected to return tonight. Everyone else is out for at least the weekend, while Samuelsson and Sturm may return soon. D Mike Weaver signed a two-year contract extension this morning.

Injuries

  • F Scottie Upshall (hip), 11/10, 6 to 8 weeks
  • F Marcel Goc (concussion), 11/16, unknown
  • F Jack Skille (shoulder), 12/16, at least a week
  • F Sean Bergenheim (groin), unknown
  • F Marco Sturm (concussion), unknown
  • F Mikael Samuelsson (unknown), day to day
  • F Stephen Weiss (chest), gametime decision

Healthy Scratches

  • F Mark Cullen
  • D Keaton Ellerby OR D Erik Gudbranson

Starting goaltenders:

With back to back games this weekend, both Panthers goalies will be playing. Scott Clemmensen will play tonight and Jose Theodore tomorrow. Martin Biron played in the last game for the Blueshirts, so Henrik Lundqvist will likely get the nod this evening.

Projected Lines

Forwards
  1. Kopecky-Weiss-Versteeg
  2. Fleischmann-Matthias-Bradley
  3. Barch-Kennedy-Thomas
  4. Repik-Santorelli-Dadonov
Defense
  1. Campbell-Garrison
  2. Jovanovski-Gudbranson/Ellerby
  3. Kulikov-Weaver