Tuesday vs. New York Rangers
The Panthers will do battle with the Rangers (19-19-2) for the third and final time this season when the clubs meet on New Year's Eve. New York took the first game by a 4-3 count at Madison Square Garden on November 10th, and then bested the Cats 5-2 in Sunrise seventeen days later. The Rangers, who are coming off a 4-3 win in Tampa Bay, will be playing the second of a four-game road trip that sees the team visit Pittsburgh and Toronto after they leave the Sunshine State.
Winger Mats Zuccarello leads the Rangers offense with 28 points, while a rejuvenated Brad Richards is right behind him with 27. The Cats will be shooting at either struggling veteran Henrik Lundqvist or his 8-3 backup Cam Talbot, who replaced the retired Martin Biron earlier this season.
Saturday vs. Nashville Predators
Florida will finish its third five-game homestand of the season with a Saturday night matchup versus the Nashville Predators. The Preds (17-18-4) will be in the middle of a three-game road trip when they visit Sunrise for the final meeting of the season between the two teams. Nashville took Florida 4-3 in the Music City back on October 15th. The Panthers will be well-rested for the Predators, who have games against Detroit and Boston before they face the Cats.
David Legwand leads Nashville's low scoring offense with 25 points, while Craig Smith is the club's leading goal scorer with ten. The duo of Marek Mazanec and Carter Hutton have been filling the gap in goal left by the injured Pekka Rinne.
So how do you see this week shaking out for the Panthers? The Cats are facing two similar teams who also struggle mightily to score goals. The Panthers should have the edge in both tilts if Tim Thomas is back in goal and on his game. Don't forget to vote in the poll. Last week only 5% of you hit the points nail on the head. So much for positivity...