Panthers Host Canadiens. Offence vs. Vokoun!




I love it when an original six team comes to town.  I especially love it when it’s a Canadian team (or the Black Hawks of course) since the atmosphere will be almost playoff like.  With a potentially full house, although most of the fans rooting for the other side, tonights game matching the Montreal Canadians and the Florida Panthers will create some buzz here in Florida.

The Panthers who are hanging around if you will, despite all their recent injuries, are about to attempt to go for their third straight shutout at home, something that has never happened before.  Talk about riding your goaltender.  Tomas Vokoun has three shutouts in his last eight games.  He’s allowed only six goals on 212 shots in his last six starts.  He’s second in the NHL in save percentage at .927.  What more can you ask of him?  Well if you’re the Panthers you are going to ask him to keep it up.

Vokoun who should be starting and if he does, will make it the 13th consecutive game for him, as Florida goes for it’s first win of the season against the Montreal Canadiens.  Earlier this season the Bank Atlantic Center wasn’t very kind to the Panthers, but since the new year, they are now 4-0-1 in their last five home games and they are going for their fourth win in a row on the season.  Not to continue on the Vokoun theme, but what the heck.  In his last five games at home his GAA is a sparkling 1.57.  With David Booth still out with conscussion symptoms and the recent broken leg to Nathan Horton, and the potential NO TRADE TO BE MADE, Vokoun is going to have to be the savior.

While Stevie Wonder continues to lead the Panthers in goals with 19, he has scored only one in his last 13 games, he must pick it up now more than ever before.  If he’s the leader that this organization thinks he is, now is the time to prove it.  Steven Reinprecht who was on a tear earlier this season is in the middle of a horrific goal scoring drought, has two goals in his last nineteen games.  Another player that must pick up the pace and find his game.

With all this going on, the Panthers as I said are lucky to be in the race at this point.  However they aren’t going to win alot of games 1-0 or 2-1, as not every team is offensively challenged as they are.

Speaking of offence, the Canadiens come to town off a 6-0 beating of the New York Rangers on Saturday night, led by forward Michael Cammalleri who had two goals for a team leading 26 and added two assists for a four point night.  Benoit Pouliot has scored in three straight games and has 10 goals in his last 13 games, as he has had a bit of a resurrgence since his trade from the Minnesota Wild.  Scott Gomez, Brian Gionta and Tomas Plekancek are all also very capable of finding the net and will have to be carefully watched as all of these guys are on hot streaks of sorts.

In goal for Montreal I would expect to see Jaroslav Halak who is 2-0-0 in his last two games, and playing well enough for Montreal to consider the possibility of trading TFS (The Franchise Savior) as the gang over at Four Habs Fans calls him.  Will that truly happen, one doesn’t know.  But for my opinion, I say you have to keep Cary Price, and unless you can find a capable backup, you might also have to keep Halak as well.  Halak is 8-2-1 with a 1.99 GAA in his last eleven starts and has won all four games he has started against the Panthers.

This game is huge as far as playoffs go.  Each game now before the break carries the weight of the playoffs on it.  A true test for Florida is staring them right in the face.  With the offensive shortcomings allready evident before the Booth injury, that deficiency is even more prevalent with the broken leg to Nathan Horton.

Enjoy your time here Montrealers.  Thank goodness it’s JM’s last visit of the season.

Let’s see how they respond.  Someone once told me, “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it”.

Thanks for reading.