After a full 5 day layoff, the Panthers return to the ice tonight to take on the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers are coming off of a 4-1 loss in Tampa Bay last night, a game in which Tampa scored 3 goals in a 2:03 span in the 2nd period.
The Panthers may have wished they could have rearranged these off days. Florida has won their last 3 games, and have gone 4-0-1 in the last 5. Tomas Vokoun has been in net for the last 3 wins, and returns to the crease tonight. I haven't heard one way or another about Ville Peltonen's playing possibilities tonight. He has a cracked bone in his foot that coach Pete DeBoer said could cause him to miss a week or more. But when Pelts was asked about it, he said he feels fine and intends to play tonight. He and his linemates (Greg Campbell and Radek Dvorak) have been the best surprise of the year, and are the driving force behind the Panthers' recent success. Hopefully we see Ville on the ice tonight. Someone else to watch is David Booth. He's riding an 8-game point streak, and is slowly claiming the role of "go-to guy." One would have thought Nathan Horton would finally assert himself offensively, and he has started to, (4 G, 2 A in the last 5 games) but it would be nice to see him continue this recent success.
The Panthers remain just 1 point behind 8th seed Carolina, thanks to the Maple Leafs win over said Hurricanes last night. Florida would also be 1 point behind 7th seed Buffalo, if it weren't for the Sabres overcoming a 3-0, 3rd period defecit to win in a shootout in Dallas last night. Thanks a lot, Big D. I know it's only January, but it's never too early to start watching that scoreboard, right? Puck drops at 7:30 from the BAC.