The Panthers look to continue their hot streak in the cold, dreary gloom of Western Canada tonight against the Calgary Flames. The Flames are just 1 point behind the Northwest division leading Vancouver Canucks (who the Panthers go against Sunday), and looking to rebound from a disappointing overtime loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday, a game in which Calgary held a 2 goal lead.
This game will feature two of the brightest young defensemen in the league, NHL '09 cover boy the Flames' Dion Phaneuf and Florida's Jay Bouwmeester, and both come into tonight's game on a bit of an offensive tear. Phaneuf has 10 assists over his last 8 games, and J-Bo 8 points (4 G, 4 A) in his last 8. I was right to key on Ales Hemsky last night (8 total shots attempted, including a clean breakaway), let's hope the Panthers can keep Phaneuf off his game tonight.
Another storyline in tonight's game is the return of Tomas Vokoun to the Panthers' crease. T-Vo (not to be confused with Florida Gator Heisman finalist, Tebow), hasn't started since November 26. He does have a history of success of Calgary, posting an 11-3-1 career mark against the Flames. If he hopes to see more playing time, he needs a good performance tonight.
That said, this is the 6th time this season the Panthers have had back-to-back game nights, and the Cats are just 2-3 in the second game. The Panthers have a chance to pass Carolina, 2nd in the division, and tie Buffalo for the 8th spot in the East (the Sabres are in Toronto tonight). Let's hope Vokoun comes out strong and the Panthers can get 2 more important points tonight. Puck drops at 9.