Tonight the Florida Panthers take their newly found confidence and respectiblity to Detroit to play the Deadwings, Detoilet, Scum, Red Wings. Panther forward David Booth will not be making the trip to Detroit either as a spectator or as a player (thank you Mike Richards) as he continues to recover from his concussion symptoms. This will be the second time in his brief career that the Cats are going to Booth’s hometown and he will not be playing.
Scott Clemmensen gets the starting assignment tonight and has not played since his November 7th shellacking against the Washington Capitals where he gave up SEVEN goals. Clemmensen was also pretty vocal about the play of the Panthers in front of him that night and described things as “chaotic”. Head Coach Peter DeBoer and Clemmensen have met and apparently have a clear understanding of the situaiton now. I am rooting for Clemmensen to have a good game. He needs it not only for his confidence, but he needs it to get back his respect. The Panthers have been playing much better as of late, and it would be nice if Clemmer can benefit from that as well.
Florida is 6-2-1 in it’s last nine games and has been able to get points in four straight. Quite the turnaround from the initial start of the season. The Panthers are coming off what is their most satisfying win of the young season Wednesday night. A 6-2 trouncing of the Buffalo Sabres in Buffalo.
Cory Stillman is hot for the Cats with 6 goals in his last 8 games and is currently on pace for 25. Florida will need at least that many from him if they even want to smell the 8th seed. Florida’s record in Detroit over the last 9 games is an abysmal 1-5-3. The last time the Panthers won at “The Joe” was December 1, 1996.
The Dead Wings had won 6 of their previous 7 games before losing to Dallas 3-1 on Wednesday night. This game in which former Panther Goalie Alex Auld started for the Stars involved a controversial non-goal by Detroit forward Brad May. After reviewing the play it was very evident that the puck had crossed the goal line and was in the net, and then the referee had blown the whistle. Unfortunately for the Wings, the play was ruled to be dead and that the whistle had been blown before the puck had crossed the line. Too bad Detroit !
Chris Osbad starts tonight after coming back from flu symptoms and forward Kirk Maltby also returns from the same ailment. The Panthers will also play against former teammate Todd Bertuzzi who has 9 points so far this season and is a -5. Leading the Wings in goals are forwards Tomas Holmstrom and Henrik Zetterberg, each with 9 a piece. Zetterberg leads the Wings in points with 23.
Detroit is one of the best teams in the NHL at controlling the pace of the game. They love to hold onto the puck and know where everyone is at all times. They will not be overly physical, and will force other teams into mistakes. They pass to each other as though they’ve been playing together for years, and for the most part they have. It’s uncanny sometimes how they know where they are.
Don’t give them any additional reasons to be successful. They do fine on their own. If Osbad could be rusty and the Panthers will have to expose that early. Even though they won in Buffalo, Florida still had a slow start which is something of an epidemic with them. Luckily against the Sabres it didn’t matter.
Being an original Blackhawk fan as you know and still am, this is one of the teams in the NHL that I despise as this little photo will demonstrate:
Thanks for reading.