Florida Panthers 3-5-0 (6pts) at Winnipeg Jets 3-4-1 (7pts)
The Florida Panthers will be in Winnipeg tonight for an 8 PM ET game against the Jets. Florida will be trying to win their third straight game while the Jets will be playing to end a three game skid. Florida has started to come around after their recent five game losing streak. During the streak that lasted from Jan 21-29 the Panthers were outscored 23-5. In Florida’s two recent wins they have doubled their offensive output of the five game losing streak, totaling 10 goals in a 6-3 victory over Winnipeg and a 4-3 victory over Buffalo. Who would have thunk it, the key to the Panthers turning things around was something as trivial as scoring goals?
Tonight’s game is the second of a four game road trip for the Panthers who will continue on to face the Flyers Thursday and the Capitals Saturday. On Super Bowl Sunday, Florida showed their resilience coming back from a second period 3-1 deficit to win 4-3. George Parros and Shawn Matthias recorded their first goals of the season while Brian Campbell and Peter Mueller each scored their fourth of the season.
The Jets are returning home after a three game road trip in which they went 0-3. The Jets lost to the Canadiens 4-3 before making s swing through Florida dropping games to the Panthers and Lightning 6-3 and 8-3 respectively.
Florida will be looking to avenge their last trip to Winnipeg, a game that they dropped 7-0 at a crucial juncture of their playoff push last season. The Panthers are up early in this season’s series between the two teams, winning 6-3 last Thursday in Florida. In a back and forth game, the Panthers came back from 2-1 and 3-2 deficits before a five goal outburst in the third put them up for good. Tonight’s game will be the second of five match ups between the teams this year. It will be the first of two trips for the Panthers to Winnipeg.
Players to Watch:
The Jets lead the NHL in points by defensemen with 26. (Source) This was evident when the Panthers faced the Jets Thursday as they received goals from defensemen Grant Clitsome and Tobias Enstrom. In order for the Panthers to be successful tonight they will have to do a good job defending the points and force the Jets offense elsewhere. Speaking of Tobias Enstrom, his 11 points (2G 9A) lead the NHL for defensemen.
For Florida, Peter Mueller is in the midst of a four game goal streak. His streak is mainly due to his ability to put himself into scoring positions and finish when given the opportunity.
Everybody knows what Brian Campbell brings to the table on the power play so it should be no surprise that his four power play goals put him in a tie for most power play goals from a defenseman. (Source)
Kris Versteeg seems to love playing the Winnipeg Jets. Last season after being held scoreless in the teams first meeting, Versteeg tallied 7 goals and 3 assists in the final four games. (Source) His success has so far carried over to this season as Versteeg scored a goal and an assist, his only points on the season, Thursday against the Jets.
While the Panthers have slowly been getting healthier, they are still not back to full strength. Defenseman Ed Jovanovski and forward Scott Upshall were both recently put on injured reserve. Forward Sean Bergenheim remains out and is not expected to return any time in the near future. The Panthers called up Erik Gudbranson after having him play two games for their AHL affiliate the San Antonio Rampage. Whether or not he makes his debut tonight remains to be seen but if its not tonight, it should be sometime during this road trip.
- There were a number of firsts Sunday for the Panthers. Drew Shore recorded his first NHL point, an assist on the Mueller goal, while Shawn Matthias scored his first goal of the season off an assist from Smithson, his first assist of the season. George Parros also tallied his first goal of the season.
- With the return of Goc and Weiss from injury and the solid play of Drew Shore, the Panthers have an overload of centers on their roster. This means some players will have to play out of position like Shawn Matthias did on Sunday against Buffalo. It did not seem to bother Matthias as his goal came on a shot off the draw after a clean win by Jerred Smithson.
- George Parros scored a goal on Sunday against Buffalo. Parros was not brought in to be a big goal scorer so anything he adds on the scoresheet has to be seen as gravy. Is there any chance he makes it two in two games? Not likely. Parros’ last goal before Sunday came February 10, 2012 with the Anaheim Ducks.
- In-divison games are always important and tonight is no different. Florida has a chance to leapfrog the Jets in the standings with a win. The two points would also tie the Panthers with the Carolina Hurricanes at 8 points, good for second in the division.