The Florida Panthers take on the Montreal Canadiens tonight 7:30 PM at the Belle Centre. The Panthers will be looking to bounce back after a lackluster effort last night against the Senators. The Panthers came out flat and ended up losing 4-0. There were not many positives to take from the loss to the Senators. Few players had strong efforts, with the only player to really stand out being Jack Skille. Skille was buzzing the entire night and his hard work payed off as he saw some late minutes playing on the top line with Tomas Fleischmann and Stephen Weiss.
After impressing in their debut against the Hurricanes, the Panthers second line of Huberdeau-Mueller-Kovalev struggled to get anything going offensively. It will be a homecoming of sorts for Alex Kovalev tonight as he spent five seasons from 2003-2009 playing for the Montreal Canadiens.
The Panthers have placed Kris Versteeg on injured reserve with a minor groin pull. He will not be eligible to play until Saturday when the Panthers play the Flyers. To fill his roster spot the Panthers have called up Drew Shore from their AHL affiliate the San Antonio Rampage. Its doubtful Shore will play tonight and the Panthers are expected to go with the same lineup from last night. The Panthers are still without injured defenseman Eric Gudbranson, and injured forwards Versteeg, Marcel Goc and Sean Bergenheim. The only lineup change could come at goalie. Kevin Dineen may elect to go with backup Scott Clemmensen in order to give Jose Theodore a rest on this, the first back-to-back of the season for the Panthers. Also, Clemmensen has excelled facing the Canadiens with a 6-0-0 record and a 1.68 goals against average all time against the Canadiens. (Source)
Hopefully the Panthers can find their legs tonight. Usually there is the worry about a team coming out flat in the second game of a back-to-back but in this case it will be hard for the Panthers to come out any flatter than they did last night in Ottawa. The Panthers swept the season series against the Canadiens last year winning all four match-ups. The Habs are 0-1-0 on the season with their only loss coming Saturday in their home opener, a game they dropped 2-1 to the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Canadiens have still yet to sign restricted free agent P.K. Subban.