After a seven game homestand, the longest of the season, the Florida Panthers hit the road for a five game stretch that begins in the Big Apple tonight. Another reunion of sorts as Bryan McCabe the former captain of the Panthers, now is with the New York Rangers. In the 10 games that McCabe has appeared in he has five points with one goal and four assists, and is a plus three. His goal was scored on the power play which was one of the reasons that the Rangers picked up the hard shooting defenceman.
The Rangers will be looking for their fifth consecutive victory tonight, their longest of the season, and have outscored their opponents 20-10 in the past four victories. Sunday’s win over the Penguins was by a score of 5-2, and that was the game where Matt Cooke elbowed Ryan McDonagh, which ultimately swung the momentum the Rangers’ way. goaltender Henrik Lundqvist who was playing with a stiff neck after being plowed into the game before, was strong in net making 38 saves. Lundqvist is 6-1-0 with a 2.26 GAA in his last seven starts.
If you look at the TSN Gameday, you’ll see a dozen Ranger players listed in the “hot” section, meaning that the contributions are being spread around, but two players that have contributed the most lately are Marion Gaborik and Ryan Callahan. Callahan has 12 points in his past six games and leads the Rangers in scoring with 23 goals, which is one more than Gaborik. The 23 goals for Callahan are a career high.
If Lundqvist starts, it will be his 18th consecutive start. He has a career record of 11-6-1 with a 1.90 GAA against the Panthers.
Florida meanwhile is 3-2-1 in it’s last six games, and tonight will mark the return of Jack “Crash” Skille who has been out with a high ankle sprain. An apparent quick recovery for Crash, and it will be good to see him back out on the ice again, as he auditions for a spot for next season in these last 10 games. Something that most of these players seem to be doing. Stephen Weiss remains the team leader in points with 49, while David Booth is the leader in goals with 21. Weiss has become a late scratch for tonight as he is out with a lower body injury (leg?)
Sergei Samsonov has been playing extremely well offensively as he has six points in his last three games, but was a victim of a turnover against the Islanders on Saturday night. Still, his play along with newcomer Niclas Bergfors, has made the top line along with Weiss, much more effective.
The Panthers have lost four of their last five road games and four of these first five road games are all against teams that are fighting or in a playoff spot. Good time to be a spoiler isn’t it?
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