Wednesday Caterwaul: Florida Panthers Open Forum

One more off-day until the return of the Cats

The fortified Florida Panthers get one more day off before heading out on a three-game Canadian road trip that sees stops in Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto. Sunday’s meeting with the Maple Leafs will be the first of the season (finally!) between the two playoff-bound clubs.

Florida’s hold on first place in the Atlantic Division has solidified at six points as the Tampa Bay Lightning played its game in hand and lost to the Carolina Hurricanes by a 3-2 count in Raleigh last night.  Frederik Andersen made 27 saves and Martin Necas and Tony DeAngelo each notched second period power-play goals for the Hurricanes, who snapped a four-game losing streak and matched the Cats at 90 points, tops in the Eastern Conference, having played one more game.

The Panthers, Lightning and Maple Leafs have twenty games left to go. Boston, which has equaled Toronto’s 83 points has played one more game than the top three and have nineteen games left on the slate. The Cats and Bruins are the hottest teams in the division, with each going 7-2-1 in their last ten games.

In the AHL, the Charlotte Checkers will be in Cleveland this weekend for a pair of games on Friday and Sunday against the Monsters. Charlotte is 34-22-4 and currently sits third in the Atlantic Division.

The Checkers will be without leading scorer Kole Lind (35 point in 46 games), who was recalled by the Seattle Kraken on Monday.

Replacing Lind will be veteran forward Victor Rask. The 29-year-old Swede was acquired from the Minnesota Wild for future considerations and assigned to Charlotte. Rask appeared in 29 NHL games with Minnesota this season and produced five goals and 13 points. In 10 games with the Iowa Wild, he averaged a point per game with two goals and eight assists. He should fit in nicely with the Checkers, who are currently on an 8-1-1 run, including three straight shootout wins over the Providence Bruins, the team they are chasing for second place, and first round bye, in the division.