Florida Panthers Gameday #16: Come Out to Play


Oct 15, 2015; Sunrise, FL, USA; Florida Panthers center Dave Bolland (63) reaches for the puck between Buffalo Sabres defenseman Cody Franson (46) and left wing Matt Moulson (26) in the first period at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Panthers return to the ice tonight at the BB&T Center with another “must-win” game on their hands.  This time they’ll face the Buffalo Sabres, who the Panthers already bested this year on October 15 by a 3-2 score.  I did go to that game, but I spent most of the first period under the arena in a puck costume, preparing to race on the ice as the first intermission entertainment.  I think I missed a Jagr goal, but everything I do, I do for the fans.

Regardless, things have changed since that last matchup for the Florida Panthers.  After that win, the Panthers held a pleasing 3-1-0 record.  Now, the Panthers are chopped down to a less-promising 6-6-3 record, and the onus is on the Panthers to get back into this season.  The win Tuesday night against Calgary was a good start, but these Sabres have proven not to be pushovers.

Two nights ago the Sabres defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning in impressive fashion, invading the Amalie Arena and crushing the Eastern Conference champions 4-1.  Now the Sabres (7-8-0) have won four of the last five, and have a chance to reach .500 for the first time since the last game of the 2012-2013 season.

It’s crazy, but at the same time not really.

Jack Eichel has looked fantastic in his rookie year, and leads the team with 6 (often highlight-reel) goals.  Ryan O’Reilly looks like a solid offseason pickup, as he has accumulated 13 points in 15 games.  Rasmus Ristolainen — a defenseman — has four goals.  Tyler Ennis is a tricky little fella, and has eight points already.

The goaltending for Buffalo has been a little on-and-off, but they’ve been without their “starter”, Robin Lehner, since Game 1 of the season.  Chad Johnson has taken most of the starts in his wake, with Linus Ullmark occasionally spelling him.  As of now there’s no word about who will start, but considering Johnson already lost to the Panthers less than a month ago I’m (unscientifically) guessing Ullmark goes.  His .918 SV% and 2.56 GAA are not too bad over five games.  Johnson’s .896 SV% and 2.75 GAA aren’t necessarily quality numbers.

Besides Lehner, the Sabres are dealing with some tough injuries that ought to hamper their squad.  Zach Bogosian, Mike Weber, and Evander Kane are key players for the Sabres ideally, but alas this is an unfair world.  All three players will be out tonight while they try to heal their lower bodies.

The Florida Panthers do have some good news on the injury front: Aleksander Barkov is back to skating with the team.  It has been three weeks and two days since Barkov’s hand injury in Pittsburgh, and his prognosis was to recover in 3-4 weeks.  So it should be any day until Barkov is ready to return to the lineup.  It won’t be today, however.  The Panthers will skate the same line-up as they did against the Flames, which means Steven Kampfer and Shawn Thornton will be scratched.

Predictably, Roberto Luongo will start for the Panthers in net.  His success against the Sabres is well-documented:


The Florida Panthers could certainly use a win tonight at home, to put them at 7-6-3, which doesn’t look so bad actually.  But if Buffalo comes out with the same guns-a-blazing as they did against the Lightning, the Panthers will have a tough opponent on their hands.

What beer are we drinkin’?  In honor of our tremendous Czech ally, it is about time we had Czech pilsner.  And there isn’t a better one out there than Lagunitas Brewing Company’s PILS.  With all the crappy pilsner knock-offs so easy to find and imbibe, it’s good to have one made the right way.  PILS has a touch of hoppy bitterness, an actual body, and fine carbonation.  On a hot day (because there are unfortunately still hot days in November down here), a cold PILS is close to unbeatable.

What song are we singin’?  Dear Prudence” – Siouxsie and the Banshees.  I find I’ve been recommending a lot of covers, so here’s one more.  Siouxsie Sioux is one strange woman, but she was one of the best musicians in a London punk movement that was notoriously devoid of them.

Next: Florida Panthers Get Off the Schnied Against Calgary Flames