Florida Panthers Gameday #3: Carolina Rumble


Mar 14, 2015; Raleigh, NC, USA; Florida Panthers forward Aleksander Barkov (16) takes the puck away from Carolina Hurricanes forward Elias Lindholm (16) during the 3rd period at PNC Arena. The Florida Panthers defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 2-0. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Panthers are coming off a tough loss to the Philadelphia Flyers last night, where they couldn’t find the scoring touch from Saturday’s home opener in a 1-0 loss.  Luckily however, the Panthers can get right back on the horse with a win tonight over the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Panthers will go with Al Montoya in net for his season début, and he’ll face Eddie Lack in his season début as well.  It’s unfortunate that the Roberto Luongo/Eddie Lack bromance will not be on display, but hopefully those two can face off this season at some point in a battle of the bros.

The Hurricanes are 0-2 to start the season after losses to the Nashville Predators and Detroit Red Wings.  They played relatively well in both games though, and lost each by only a goal.  The offense and defense will be headed up by wunderkind Justin Faulk, who already has a goal and assist to start the year.  Old nemesis Eric Staal will figure to get plenty of minutes on a top line with Victor Rask and familiar face Kris Versteeg.  Jeff Skinner and Nathan Gerbe are two tricky wingers with a knack for scoring and a nose for the net, so the Panthers will have to play them physically before they can slink through the defense.

The Panthers won’t likely change much for second match in two nights.  Shawn Thornton will most likely play again on the fourth line with Derek MacKenzie and Connor Brickley, so it looks like Quinton Howden will continue to wait to make his season début.  The Panthers will also stick with Alex Petrovic in the third pairing with Dmitry Kulikov, and Dylan Olsen will be sit this one out again.  As for the rest of the teams corps, nothing has changed.

It’s important tonight that the Panthers score early against Carolina to get back some of the offensive momentum they lost against Michal Neuvrith in Philly.  A couple bounces went the wrong way against the Flyers, but puck possession and smart passing can create its own luck.

Offensive play must improve from the back end, too.  If the book is to crowd Aaron Ekblad at the blue line and leave Brian Campbell space in the offensive zone (as the Flyers did last night), Campbell needs to make them pay.  As for players like Kulikov, Erik Gudbranson, or Willie Mitchell, just hit the net from the point shots and only good things could happen.

Hopefully the Panthers will come out with enough juice, considering the tough back-to-back on the road.  But the Panthers have playoff caliber, and there are no excuses when it comes to rough scheduling.

What beer are we drinkin’?  How about a nice Modelo Especial.  Compared to some of the melted-down-cardboard-lagers too easily available for consumption, it’s nice to drink something a tad better and more festive.  It actually has discernible flavor!

What song are we singin’?  Rumble – Link Wray.  It’s slim pickings for good rock bands in the state of North Carolina, which could get slimmer depending on your Superchunk opinions.  But Link Wray invented the dang power chord, so he gets some love today.  Pete Townsend says if he never heard “Rumble”, “he would’ve never picked up a guitar.”

Next: Florida Panthers: 3 Keys to Making the Postseason

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