On trade deadline eve, the Florida Panthers play the final game of their 5-game road trip as they visit the ATL to take on the Thrashers. Despite their 2nd to worst standing in the eastern conference, the Thrashers have been playing better of late and are coming off of a 5-3 win over Carolina. Florida is also coming from a division win, a 6-2 beating of Washington.
Atlanta has one of the best goal scorers in the league, Ilya Kovalchuk. 13 goals and 8 assists in his last 10 games. The Panthers will have to contain him as much as possible to have a chance tonight.
Florida will be without David Booth tonight, though Cory Stillman and Tomas Vokoun should hopefully return. Booth suffered an upper body injury in the Washington game. His absence means Anthony Stewart, Brett McLean, and Nick Tarnasky should all be dressed tonight, along with Noah Welch. Lots of high energy guys going. The 4th line has been getting chances and playing with an edge the last week or so, hopefully it's just a matter of time before they start putting pucks in the net.
Standings-wise, Florida sits in 6th, tied with the Rangers, 3 points behind Montreal, and 2 points ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who find themselves in the top 8 for the first time in months. Carolina and Buffalo are 1 point behind the Pens. Games to watch tonight; Carolina @ Washington. Pittsburgh @ Tampa Bay. The most important game though is ours, of course. Puck drops at 7:00.