This week for the Florida Panthers: Three more North of the Border
Last week the Cats impressed by posting their first three-game winning streak of the season. Can they stay hot in the Canadian cold?
Tuesday at Toronto Maple Leafs
Florida will continue its four-game road trip, which started off with Sunday's 2-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens, against Toronto (17-15-3) at the Air Canada Centre. This will be the first meeting between the new division rivals this season. The Buds hammered Chicago 7-3 on Saturday to snap a three-game losing skid, but were beaten last night by the Penguins in Pittsburgh. The Cats could be catching the slumping Leafs, who currently hold the Eastern Conference's second wildcard slot, at just the right time.
Phil Kessel tops the Maple Leafs offense with 32 points. In addition to Kessel, James van Riemsdyk, Mason Raymond, Nazem Kadri and Joffrey Lupul have all hit double-digits in goals so far this season. Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer have combined to give the Leafs a nice one, two punch in goal.
Thursday at Ottawa Senators
The Senators (14-15-6) will be starting a three-game homestand when the Panthers come calling on Thursday night. Ottawa has already beaten the Panthers twice this season. The Sens took a 3-2 decision in Ottawa on November 9th, and then beat the Cats again by a 4-2 count in Sunrise on December 3rd.
Bobby Ryan leads Ottawa's offense with 32 points, while star defender Erik Karlsson has posted 31. Jason Spezza is right behind those two with 28 points. The Panthers will face former goaltender Craig Anderson or capable backup Robin Lehner. Lehner has the better numbers, but Anderson has more wins.
Friday at Winnipeg Jets
The Panthers will finish off the week with a Saturday night tilt at MTS Centre against the Jets. Florida got the best of Winnipeg (15-15-5) recently, soundly beating them 5-2 in Sunrise on December 5th. The Cats will be looking to complete the season sweep against the team formerly known as the Atlanta Thrashers.
Veteran center Bryan Little paces the Jets offense with 31 points, while Blake Wheeler has contributed 11 goals. Chances are the Cats will see workhorse Ondrej Pavelec in goal. Pavelec has posted 10 wins so far this season.
So how do you see this week shaking out for the Panthers? The Cats are hot, and on paper these are three very beatable opponents. Last week, just 3 voters in the poll had the proper amount faith in our team.
How many points will the Panthers pick up this week?