Game Day Preview: Florida Panthers at Chicago Blackhawks

Florida: 29-34-10 (68PTS)
Chicago: 39-25-8 (86PTS)
Season Series: 1-0-0
Race to the Bottom: 30 EDM (56), 29 OTT (63), 28 COL (64), 27 FLA (68), 26 NYI (70), 25 NJD (72)
Record before and after the trade deadline: 26-29-7 (59PTS) .476 / 3-5-3 (9PTS) .409

Tonight, last year's Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks host the Florida Panthers. When we last saw the Blackhawks in Florida a few weeks ago, the Hawks were riding an 8 game win streak back into playoff contention after falling in the Western Conference standings. That streak was ended by the Panthers. Chicago is 2-1-2 since the meeting and Florida is 2-3-1. We also saw some Detroit fans holding signs that said "Go Panthers!" and "We drove 1500 miles to see the Hawks lose," but I imagine there will be none of that this evening. The Blackhawks will be without the services of Patrick Sharp, who is out for several weeks. He will be replaced by prospect Marcus Kruger, who has been called up from the Swedish Elite League.

Last meeting: On March 8 in Florida, the Panthers sent goaltender Corey Crawford packing with 3 goals on 11 shots in the first period. Replacement Marty Turco was perfect against only 7 more Panthers shots in two periods, but the Cats held on for a 3-2 lead.

Last game: The Panthers lost 1-0 to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. Brandon Dubinsky scored the only goal about halfway through the third period. Dubinsky, Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist and Panthers goalie Tomas Vokoun were the three stars of the game.

Notes: Stephen Weiss missed last night's game with a leg injury, but Shawn Matthias returned to action earlier than expected to take his place in the lineup, along with Alexander Sulzer and Jack Skille. With Matthias' return, Patrick Rissmiller went back to Rochester. Scott Clemmensen was unable to play due to a lower body injury. Tyler Plante was called up to back up Tomas Vokoun. Tonight will be Skille's debut against his former team. Michael Frolik played against the Cats in the previous game, but Skille was hurt.

Injuries: Scott Clemmensen, lower body, unknown (3/22/2011). Stephen Weiss, leg, unknown (3/22/2011). Scott Timmins, concussion, unknown (3/10/2011). Rostislav Olesz, knee, out for the season (2/25/2011). Byron Bitz (IR), sports hernia, out for the season.

Starting goaltenders: Absent Vokoun not being able to play for some reason, he will be the starter tonight and Plante will again back him up.

Lines: Last night's lines reflected Weiss' absence. There hasn't been an announcement that we've seen yet, and we are assuming that Weiss will be absent again.
Bergfors - Reasoner - Samsonov
Booth - Santorelli - Skille
Dadonov - Matthias - Bernier
Hordichuk - Carter - Repik


The Hawks will be looking for revenge on the team that broke their recent win streak. The Panthers will be looking to improve on last night's lacklustre performance against the Rangers. George Richards of the Miami Herald reported last night that Dmitry Kulikov, Keaton Ellerby and Michael Santorelli were all "angry" about the team's performance last night. It remains to be seen if the team can turn this into a win, but they've been known to unexpectedly do so in the past.

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