Florida Panthers Gameday #12: Shake Away This Disease


Feb 10, 2015; Sunrise, FL, USA; Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov (16) collides into Anaheim Ducks defenseman Ben Lovejoy (6) behind goalie Josh Gibson (36) in the third period at BB&T Center. The Panthers won 6-2. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Panthers return to action after an eternity (four days) since their last game.  Thus begins a three-game west coast road trip, and tonight’s opponent is the Anaheim Ducks, who are a complete mystery so far this season.

The Ducks were not even a sexy Stanley Cup pick before the season started — they were the en vogue pick, the safe pick, the relatively uninspired pick.  And with players like Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, and Ryan Kesler, who could deny their talent?  Well guess what: those three players have a combined 0 goals, 6 assists, and -17 rating after 11 games.  Jakob Silfverberg has no goals.  Patrick Maroon has no goals.  Mike Santorelli is tied for the team lead, with two goals.  The entire Ducks team will entire tonight with a league-low 1.27 GF/GP.  And it’s not even close: the Philadelphia Flyers have the second-lowest with a relatively robust 1.92 GF/GP.  Head coach Bruce Boudreau can’t seem to get his guys to score.

Of course, you wonder when the Ducks will snap out of it.  They have enviable offensive talent, so they’ll likely find some footing at some point this season.  But the Ducks have already dug themselves a tough hole to start the year, as they sport a 2-7-2 record coming into the game.  Most likely, you can cast out predictions of the Ducks finishing with a number-one seed or a Pacific Division title.  I’d still bet on the Ducks making the playoffs — especially considering the surprisingly weak state of the Pacific Division — but they ought to get going soon.  Boudreau’s job is on the line.

As of now, there’s no telling who will start in goal for the Ducks.  Frederik Andersen has started the last five games and is off to a solid start to the year (.935 SV%, 2.05 GAA).  However, Anton Khubodin (.875 SV%, 4.06 GAA) hasn’t seen the ice since October 22, so Boudreau might attempt to rest his starter.  But considering Andersen’s career stats against the Panthers (.825 SV%, 4.12 GAA), he might be better off going with Khubodin anyway.  For the Florida Panthers, it’s probably safe to assume Roberto Luongo will start.

But the big news for the Panthers isn’t who will start in goal, but if Jaromir Jagr will play tonight.  He tweaked something in his groin/hamstring all the way back in the October 27 game against the Avalanche, and hasn’t played since.  However, Gerard Gallant seems optimistic that he’ll be back in the line-up tonight:

"“We would love to have him back. We miss him when he’s not there. We want to make sure he’s ready, and I think he is.”"

Hopefully that means Jagr is ready to lace ’em up again, because the Panthers sorely miss his puck possession and passing skills.  Having Jussi Jokinen on the Panthers’ top scoring line is sub-optimal, in a word.  But with Aleksander Barkov still out with his hand injury, Nick Bjugstad will get a chance to lead the offensive charge himself.  And he had two great games against the Ducks last year, scoring three goals and adding two assists in total.

The Panthers beat the Ducks 6-2 twice last year.  How about one more time?  Considering the tough offensive performances in recent games, the Panthers should hope for a break-out against a scuffling team.  So long as the Panthers stay out of the box and force the Ducks’ shooters to score at even strength, the Panthers will have a great chance to pull out two points.

What beer are we drinkin’?  I alluded to it on Twitter yesterday, but today’s beer is one that is near and dear to my heart: Irish Channel Stout by NOLA Brewing.  Finally, a stout!  Stouts are the best beers in my eyes, and generally the easiest to compare to each other.  They almost always feature both coffee and chocolate notes, and the difference in each beer comes from which flavor comes through more.  For Irish Channel Stout, there is a great balance of both, but perhaps there is a little more coffee to give it a more robust flavor (the best stouts usually do).  If you buy this beer in its striking black pint can, do yourself a favor and pour it into a class and check the color: midnight black with a light-tan head.  The best!

What song are we singin’?  Santa Monica” – Everclear.  It’s easier to pick songs related to Los Angeles than Pittsburgh, I find.  Y’all should watch this music video just to witness the “still-developing” green screen technology from 1995.