Panther Gameday Preview: Sens vs. Panthers

43-31-5

VS.

31-35-12

What a great day Monday was.  The baseball season has started (technically Sunday night with the Damn Yankees and the Boston Red Sox), the NCAA Championship game that Duke ended up winning by two points over upstart Butler.  The Washington Capitals winning in overtime and are now one goal shy of 300 for the season.  The first time that has happened since 2005-2006 when the Senators and Capitals did it.  Rumors of Brett Hull putting together a team of buyers to purchase the Dallas Stars, and one of those potential buyers is Wayne Gretzky.  Lots of good stuff for a Monday.

And now back to the doldrums of hockey in South Florida.  The only thing that might get you a bit excited about tonights game between the Panthers and Senators is that it’s the 1000th game for forward Daniel Alfredsson.  Quite a feat for anyone, but for Alfredsoon it’s just another milestone to add to his already accomplished resume.

Alfredsson was drafted in the sixth round in 1994 by Ottawa and won the Calder Trophy as the league’s best rookie in 1996.  He was a member of the Sen’s first appearance in the playoffs in 1997 (last time the Panthers won a playoff game) and helped them with their first playoff series win in 1998, and led them to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2007.

Alfredsson has accumulated 989 points in this career on 375 goals and 614 assists, but the last item that he desires is of course the coveted Stanley Cup.  The 37 year old winger has helped the Senators qualify for the playoffs this year after missing them for the first time in 12 last season.  He leads Ottawa in points with 68 with 48 assists and 20 goals.  It is the 12th time in his career that he has scored 20 or more times.

Ottawa has certainly overcome the Dany Heatley nonsense of the beginning of the year and head coach Cory Clouston has assembled a team of finishers and believers.  Cory is no nonsense.  Takes no B.S.  Benches players when needed and sends players to the minors if they aren’t producing.  Case in point, one of my favorite guys, Jonathan Cheechoo had struggled terribly, and he and his 3 million dollar per year contract are now in Binghamton of the AHL.  So if Ottawa can do it, why can’t we?

Brian Elliott has become the number one netminder for Ottawa and has 29 victories so far this season to go along with five shutouts.  Mike Underwood -Fisher has had a rebound season with 50 points topping last year’s disappointing 32.  Hot for the Sens are Jason Spezza with seven points in his last 3 games, and young defenceman Erik Karlsson who has seven points in his last four games.  How come all these Swedes spell their names with double ss’s?

By gaining at least a point tonight the Sens can lock up at least the fifth seed in the East, pitting them likely against the Penguins in the first round of the playoffs if the standing don’t change.  In 49 games agaisnt the Panthers Alfredsson has 47 points.

So while Alfredsson continues his playoff march having missed only once in his career, the Florida Panthers continue their playoff drought of nine consecutive regular seasons.  My moving truck will be firmly parked at the Bank Atlantic Center on Sunday evening after the final regular season home game to clean out the trash, and stench that has been here for these nine seasons.  But that’s another story.

Tomass Vokoun returns in goal tonight after Scott Clemmenssen who has started the last two games, and three of four for the Cats.  Vokoun hasn’t faired well since the Olympic break, and or trade deadline, but I feel that you can attribute a good portion of that to the Panthers having traded defencemen Denniss Seidenberg and Jordan Leopold at the deadline.

If you look at TSN’s gameday preview here, you will see that the only “hot” player for Florida that’s not a goalie is defenceman Keith Ballard.  Ballard has scored the last two goals for the Panthers.  They were scored in separate games!  No need to harp on it, but yes we are challenged offensively.

A bunch of injuries have invaded the Panthers dressing room as players like Byron Bitz , Cory Stillman, and Bryan Allen are out of tonight’s game to go along with David BoothDr. General Manager Randy Sexton seems to think that Booth will be fully recovered from his second concussion in five months, and ready in time for next season.  Randy, stick to general managing.  On second thought, your stuff is the first that get’s loaded in my truck.

Tonight’s game is at 7:00 P.M. not 7:30 as originally scheduled.  If you’re going, please make sure you note that, although, there’s really no rush. 

Go over and check out our friends at SenShotBobby Zijiac does a great job over there and has a nice piece about Alexei Kovalev.  You remember him don’t you?

Thanks for reading.

Your comments are always welcomed and appreciated.

Cheers

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Tags: Brian Elliott Cory Clouston Daniel Alfredsson Florida Panthers Ottawa Senators Tomas Vokoun

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