The Matchup: New Jersey Devils (4-2-1) vs. the Florida Panthers (2-3-3 SBNation; Litterbox Cats)
The Time: 12:00 PM EST
The Broadcast: MSG
Bounceback: The Devils are looking to find some momentum, suffering a heartbreaking 4-3 loss to the Predators in overtime. Keith Kinkaid made some great saves in the game, but gave up a terrible goal to Yannick Weber. It hurts more to think that if he made that save, which was a very harmless shot, this game could have went to the Devils. However, the team has to look past that, and rebound against a surprisingly bad Florida Panthers team.
The Panthers’ Last Game: The Panthers’ beat the Islanders 3-2 in overtime. They outshot the Islanders at an outstanding 41-22 rate. Frank Vatrano, Evgenii Dadonov, and Mike Hoffman scored the goals to help the Panthers come back to win. It helped them get off a two game skid, featuring losses to the Rangers and Red Wings, and back on a winning track. Let’s hope the Devils can put them back to losing ways.
Panthers’ Unluckiness: The difference in every Panthers game but one has been by one goal. They’ve lost two games in the shootout, and the only game they were soundly beat was a 5-2 loss to the Rangers. The team doesn’t struggle getting shots on goal, having gotten over 30 shots on goal all but once, so it’s a classic case of suspect goaltending and bad puck luck.
Speaking of bad goaltending, James Reimer has a .877 save percentage. Michael Hutchinson is even worse, with a .839 save percentage. The Panthers can’t wait to get Roberto Luongo back, and that would be a huge help for the team.
Offensively, this team is a dynamo. Four players have a point per game ratio, while Jonathan Huberdeau is just one point off. Evgenii Dadonov continues his great play, with 9 points in 8 games. Keith Yandle, Vincent Trocheck and Alexander Barkov all have 8 points in 8. Hoffman and Bjugstad have 6 and 4 points respectably. This team can score at a given moment, and their bad record is very deceptive. Hopefully the Devils can take advantage of suspect goaltending and win this game.
The Projected Lineups: As of 9:18PM on the Friday before — nothing. John Quenneville has been sent down to the AHL though. Excitingly, it’s Joey Anderson going up!
Closing: What do you think? Who do you think will win? Let me know in the comments below, and take care.