State and divisional rival Tampa Bay comes into the Bank Atlantic Center this evening. The start time for tonight is 7:00 P.M. Also, turn your clocks forward later tonight as we “spring ahead”. Speaking of spring, I am hoping that both teams have some sort of spring in their step tonight as they are both coming off sluggish performances.
Both teams have played the Chicago Blackhawks this week and won their games with some very gutsy play. However both teams came out flat and disjointed when they each took on the Ottawa Senators. Tampa lost to Ottawa last night by a score of 2-1, which was their fifth loss in their last six games. Scoring seems to be an issue in the state of Florida as well, as Tampa has scored two goals or less in seven of their lat eight games. A very odd and surprising statistic with a roster containing, Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis, and Vincent Lecavalier.
Playing a full sixty minutes seems to also be a problem for the Lighting as they will go stretches during without sticking to their game plan. Stamkos leads the team in goals with 42 and points with 82. Tampa will be looking to avoid a fourth loss to the Panthers this season, and will have to do so without the services of defenceman Pavel Kubina who is serving a three game suspension for an elbow to the head of Chicago Blackhawks center Dave Bolland. Dwayne Roloson took the loss last night as he faced 22 shots. Roloson is 13-9-2 since coming over from the New York Islanders.
The Panthers meanwhile were coming off an emotional victory against the Blackhawks on Tuesday when they took on the Senators on Thursday. Talk about no gas in the tank! Also losing by a score of 2-1, Florida has now lost six of seven and 3-8-2 in it’s last 13 games. Also having trouble scoring. The last time the Panthers scored four goals was in New Jersey on February 4th, when they won that game 4-3.
The power play which as we know has struggles mightly all season is now 2 for 29 and that includes a non converted five man advantage against Ottawa. Good teams learn to take those opportunities and do something with them. Panther coach Peter DeBoer had the perfect description of the Ottawa game:
“It was a bad hockey game, I think, both ways,” coach Peter DeBoer said. “The goalies were the two bright spots on the ice. We looked like we could play for weeks and not score a goal at some points there.”
David Booth leads Florida in goals with 20, and Stephen Weiss is the point leader with 44. Booth has four points in his last four games, and Michal Repik has three in his last three. A completely revamped roster that’s still trying to get to know one another is going to contribute to some more consistency. We can’t really expect too much other than a strong effort every night. Having a winning record on this homestand would be something to strive for.
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