Panthers (0-0-0 0P) vs Blackhawks (0-2-0 0P)
- WHEN: 7:00 p.m. ET
- WHERE: BB&T Center, Sunrise, FL
- ON THE TUBE: NHL Network, FOX Sports Florida, NBCSCH+
- ON THE DIAL: 560 WQAM (D/B), 850 WFTL (PB), 1370 WAXE (TC), Thunder 100.3 (Keys)
- SOCIALS: #FlaPanthers, #Blackhawks, #CHIvsFLA, @LitterBoxCats, LBC FaceBook
- ENEMY INTEL: Second City Hockey
- FLA IN SEASON SERIES: Game 1 of 8
- LAST MEETING: CHI 3, @FLA 2 (SO) (Recap) - 2/29/2020
- NEXT MEETING: January 19, 2021
- PROJECTED STARTERS: Driedger vs Subban (0-1-0 .848/ 5.03 0SO)
- PLAYER STATS: Florida / Chicago
The Chicago Blackhawks were just 32-38 last year, but because the Pacific Division was so bad at the bottom, they were able to squeak into the playoffs. They didn’t last too long as the Golden Knights eliminated them in five games in their first round. Chicago will look to return to the postseason, but it will not be easy as they are just not a very good team. The Blackhawks started their season with a pair of games in sunny Florida, but it was not sunny for the Blackhawks. They faced the Tampa Bay Lighting in both games and lost both, getting outscored 10-3 in the process. That is not how Chicago wanted to start the year, but they were facing the defending Stanley Cup champs.
Many teams in the league have played two games while the Panthers will be hitting the ice for the first time. That is due to COVID-19 wiping out both of their home games against the Dallas Stars. The Panthers went 35-34 on the season and made it to the postseason but were quickly dispatched in three games by the Islanders in the play-in round. They will look for a return trip to the postseason, but they are in rebuild mode, so the Panthers may have to wait another year. Florida hired GM bill Zito, and he unloaded some talent in Mike Hoffman (29 goals) and Evgenii Dadonov (25 goals). They did get nice contributions from Noel Acciari, who had 20 goals, and Jonathan Huberdeau is back after leading the team in points with 78. Aleksander Barkov was 2nd in points 62, and they added Patric Hornqvist, who scored 17 goals for the Penguins a year ago. The offense may not drop all that much.
The Panthers’ problem comes at the defense end of the ice, where they were bad a year ago. They hope that vets Radko Gudas and Markus Nutivaara can help this year, but this still is the team’s weakness, and it’s hard to win consistently in this league if you can’t play defense. Sergei Bobrovsky will be the number one guy in the crease, but he is listed as out for this game with an illness. Chris Driedger will get the nod for this one, while Sam Montembeault will back him up. Driedger was 7-3 with a 2.05 GAA last year, including 4-3 with a 2.51 GAA here at home. He has never faced the Blackhawks. Florida is hoping to have Bobrovsky back for the 2nd game on Tuesday.
Full Preview courtesy of Winners & Whiners
Sunday in the Central (Standings/Panthers Playoff Chances):
- DALLAS (0-0-0 0P) at TAMPA BAY (2-0-0 4P) POSTPONED
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