Mar 27, 2013; Sunrise, FL, USA; Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (11) scores a goal during a shootout against Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller (30) at the BB&T Center. Robert Mayer USA TODAY Sports

Preview: Florida Panthers Vs. Buffalo Sabres

Buffalo Sabres: 1-9-1 (3 pts) At Florida Panthers: 3-6-1 (7 pts)

The Florida Panthers continue their six game home stand tonight when they face the Buffalo Sabres at 7:30 p.m. The Sabres have been one of the league’s worst teams so far this season and their three points are fewest in the NHL.

For the Florida Panthers, Jacob Markstrom will get the start in place of the injured Tim Thomas. Thomas sustained a lower body injury in Tuesday’s game against Chicago. Thomas previously missed four games from October 10th-15th after straining his groin in a game against the Philadelphia Flyers. Markstrom has had his ups-and-downs filling in for Thomas this season and in the seven games he has played in, Markstrom has a 3.51 GAA and a .884 Sv%. Scott Clemmensen has been called up from AHL San Antonio to back up Markstrom while Thomas recovers.

Three games into their six game home stand, the Panthers have accumulated a 1-1-1 record. They lost in regulation to the Bruins 3-2, beat the Wild in a shootout 2-1 and on Tuesday night they fell in a shootout to the Blackhawks 3-2.

The Sabres have been atrocious so far this year but that does not mean tonight’s game will be a cakewalk for the Panthers. Head coach Kevin Dineen told the Miami Herald that his team cannot ratchet down the intensity following an inspired performance against the Blackhawks on Tuesday.

“We’ve prepared ourselves the same way,” Dineen said. “The emotional level has to be consistent. We can’t play at one tone for the Stanley Cup champions and then change it for someone else.”

Bergenheim Returns:

Sean Bergenheim will be making his season debut after missing the first ten games of this season and all of last season with abdominal and hip injuries. Bergenheim was an integral piece on the Panther team that won the Southeast division in 2011-12. That season he tallied 17 goals in 62 regular season games and then led the team in scoring with six points (3-3-6) during the Panthers seven game playoff loss to the Devils.

Bergenheim looks like he will join a line with Nick Bjugstad and Jonathan Huberdeau, according to Panther beat writer Harvey Fialkov.

Projected Lineup:

Here is how I see the Panthers lining up tonight against the Sabres:

Fleischmann-Barkov-Versteeg

Huberdeau-Bjugstad-Bergenheim

Matthias-Goc-Kopecky

Boyes-Gomez-Winchester

Kulikov-Campbell

Gilbert-Weaver

Gilroy-Gudbranson

Jacob Markstrom

UPDATE: According to NHL.com, Bergenheim will skate with Gomez and Winchester while Boyes will be up with Huberdeau and Bjugstad.

Reunion Week For Soupy

Brian Campbell is having quite the week. On Tuesday the team that Campbell won a Stanley Cup with in 2010, the Chicago Blackhawks, came to town. In his three seasons with the Blackhawks, Campbell played in 215 regular season games scoring 19 goals and 98 assists.

As if that weren’t enough, tonight Campbell faces the team that drafted him, the Buffalo Sabres. Taken in the 6th round (156th overall) of the 1997 NHL Entry Draft, Campbell played in 391 games for Buffalo from 1999-2008. During that time he tallied 32 goals and 144 assists.

Kids On The Run

The Buffalo Sabres became the first team since 1995-96 to dress four teenagers over the course of a season. The foursome is made up entirely of players taken in the first rounds of the last two NHL drafts. Forwards Mikhail Grigorenko (19 years old) and Zemgus Girgensons (19) were taken with the 12th and 14th picks respectively in the 2012 draft while defensemen Rasmus Ristolainen (18) and Nikita Zadorov (18) were taken 8th and 16th respectively in the 2013 draft.

The Sabres have made a commitment to their youth and while they may be going through some growing pains now, they have a bright future ahead of them.

Suspensions Abound

The Sabres will be without forward Patrick Kaleta who is serving a 10-game suspension for an illegal hit to the head to Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson.

Sabres forward John Scott will also be out after receiving an indefinite suspension for his hit on Bruins forward Loui Eriksson in the Sabres 5-2 loss to the Bruins on Wednesday night.

That’s all for now. Share your thoughts about the game in the comments section below and follow The Rat Trick on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest.

 

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