Montreal Canadiens 7-4-1 (15 pts, 7th in East) at Florida Panthers 4-6-2 (10 pts, 13th in East)
The Florida Panthers will be celebrating their Valentine’s Day with a 7:30 pm home game against the Montreal Canadiens. The Panthers are coming off back to back losses against the Washington Capitals. Their game tonight is the second of a four game home stand. Florida blew a two goal third period lead Tuesday against Washington en rout to a 6-5 overtime loss.
Montreal is in the midst of the “Florida Carwash” having already played the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday, a game which they won 4-3 in a shootout. On Saturday during the Habs 6-0 loss to Toronto, Canadiens player Max Pacioretty claims to have been bitten by Leafs forward Mikhail Grabovski during a third period scrum. One can only hope that the players find a way to quell their Valentine’s Day excitement tonight and keep their mouths to themselves.
The Panthers and Canadiens met earlier this season, January 22nd, in Montreal for what turned out to be a 4-1 Canadiens victory. Andrei Markov recorded a pair of power play goals in the game and the Panthers only goal was scored by Tomas Kopecky. The Panthers are 3-1-1 in their past five home games against Montreal.
Players to Watch:
P.K. Subban had yet to sign a new deal with the Canadiens at the time of their first meeting with the Panthers. Subban, who has since signed a two year $5.75 million deal, has been dangerous in his six games back. Subban has six points in that time frame, 3 goals and 3 assists.
Canadiens goalie Carey Price stopped 27 of 28 shots against the Panthers in January. He has been strong this entire season with seven wins, a save percentage of .915, and a GAA of 2.27. If Florida wants to have success against the Canadiens, they will first have to solve Price.
Jose Theodore has a long history with the Canadiens, playing in parts of nine seasons with them. His best year came in the 01-02 season winning the Hart and Vezina trophies. Theodore should get the start against his former team tonight after Clemmensen struggled in net Tuesday.
- Finally we have a name for the line of Huberdeau-Shore-Mueller. ‘The Kid Line‘ has been making the rounds as the name bestowed upon the Panthers most productive line so far this season. The title is fitting as no player on the line is over 25 years of age (Huberdeau 19, Shore 22, Mueller 24) In Tuesday’s loss to Washington the ‘Kid Line’ tallied six total points.
- The Canadiens are one of those teams whose fans always pack the BB&T Center to a point where it almost feels like a Panther’s road game.
- I mentioned the struggles of the Panthers goaltending and penalty kills yesterday in my quarter season recap. These are two areas to keep an eye on moving forward because if the Panthers are to make the playoffs this season they will need to have marked improvements in these areas.
- If the Panther’s marketing slogan “GET IT ON” wasn’t already confusing enough, throw Valentine’s day into the mix. Hopefully fans keep it PG at the game tonight for the kids.