The Florida Panthers, losers of four-straight, limp into today's matinée against the New Jersey Devils with a chance to not only take the season-series against the bunch who knocked them out of the playoffs last season, but to return the favor, big time.
Peter DeBoer's Devils, who are still livin' on a playoff prayer, need to build on Thursday's 3-0 win over Philadelphia, which snapped a horrid ten-game losing streak, to gain ground on the eighth place New York Rangers. The Devils must pick up at least a point against the Cats this afternoon or they will be eliminated from playoff contention.
The clubs have met twice this season with the Devils taking a hard-fought 2-1 decision in Newark on March 23rd. Patrik Elias and David Clarkson scored in the second period before Peter Mueller scored Florida's only goal. The Panthers pulled out an exciting 3-2 win in overtime a week later in Sunrise. Dmitry Kulikov notched the game-winner while Shawn Matthias and former Panther Steve Bernier accounted for all the goals in regulation time.
Defenseman Erik Gudbranson apparently suffered a wrist or hand injury against the Rangers and will miss today's game and what is sure to be an emotional tilt tomorrow against the Boston Bruins. Filip Kuba will return to the lineup this afternoon after a two-game absence.
After Scott Clemmensen surrendered six goals Thursday in Madison Square Garden, I would expect Jacob Markstrom to get the call against Martin Brodeur today.
Looking for a devilishly good take on the opposition? Then check out the crew over at In Lou We Trust. The LBC Live GameThread comes alive at 12:30.