Florida Panthers Gameday #9: Wanna Go For a Ride


Jan 15, 2015; Sunrise, FL, USA; Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov (1) makes a save on a shot by Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (11) as Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie (4) defends in the first period at BB&T Center. The Colorado Avalanche won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Panthers return to action at the BB&T Center tonight, and will take on the Colorado Avalanche in a 1996 Stanley Cup rematch.  Let’s hope tonight’s game turns out better.

Like I mentioned yesterday, the Panthers will go into tonight’s game tinkering with some new lines and hoping to continue the offense from Saturday’s game in Dallas.  The Panthers threw up a six-goal smackdown to defeat a very good team in the Big D.  By many accounts the Avalanche are a worse team than the Stars, but still very dangerous offensively.

Lest we forget, the Avalanche have Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, and Matt Duchene to net some goals.  Veterans such as Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay still have their scoring touches.  And coming back from a three-game suspension is Tyson Barrie, a good puck-moving defenseman who will get a huge chunk of offensive-zone ice time.

The weakness for the Avalanche has surprisingly been in goal: Semyon Varlamov has struggled mightily to start the year, sporting a sub-optimal 1-3-1 record, .869 SV%, and 3.93 GAA.  However, the Russian will give was to a Swiss tonight against the Panthers.  Reto Berra will be between the pipes instead, and has been much better than Varlamov in his two starts, stopping 73 of 75 shots.  Berra is a big goalie at 6’4″, 210 lbs, so it will be imperative for the Panthers to move him around the crease and prevent him from squaring up on any shooter.

The Panthers will return to Roberto Luongo in goal after a very satisfactory performance by Al Montoya in Dallas.  And yes, it’s not just you, Luongo has been simply great to start the season:

If the Luongo and the Panthers’ defense can shut down the key offensive players for Colorado, the Panthers will have a great chance to notch their fifth win of the season.  That’s easier said than done of course, but the Avalanche are very beatable at the moment (they coughed up a lead and lost to Columbus Saturday night).  The Panthers should handle the Avalanche if they play another well-rounded game tonight.

What beer are we drinkin’?  I feel compelled to step it up after the Natural Light from last game, so I will.  But I’ll stay reasonable.  Shock Top Belgian White.  It’s the only beer I can think of that has given me heartburn, but I still generally can enjoy it.  It’s much more direct with the orange flavor than its notable comparison, Blue Moon Belgian White, but for a “witbier” there isn’t much wheat flavor at all.  Anheuser-Busch also happens to be behind this beer, so it’s made to be only slightly better than Budweiser, but not enough to supplant the King of Beers from its place in your uncle’s refrigerator.  What can be interesting though is the orange garnish often put in Shock Top: it’s a nice idea and certainly brings out even more of the beer’s orange-iness, but adding any acid flattens any beer.  So no head, not much carbonation, and a big wet orange wedge floating right on top.  That’s not quite my idea of how to improve a brew, but I’m not everybody.

What song are we singin’?  Zero” – Smashing Pumpkins.  Last week, AV Club published a cool story about the Smashing Pumpkins’ stacked album, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.  It’s certainly worth reading, if only to understand the creative pressures that Billy Corgan forced on his own shoulders.  Creating a seminal album for a decade is pretty cool, but it sounds difficult.  Nowadays, Billy Corgan can be found doing this.

Next: Fourth Line Integral to Panthers Playoff Chances

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