The Panthers get a bit of a break tonight, playing host to a Philadelphia team that has given up more goals in the past week than the Arizona Cardinals gave up touchdowns to the Bears in the fourth quarter on Monday night. Ok, maybe I'm exaggerating.
Still, Philly gave up nine to Buffalo on Tuesday (all coming in the final 40 minutes and all off goalie Robert Esche who happened to make a joking comment about coach Ken Hitchcock's smarts) and four to Tampa on Thursday. The Flyers decided against skating Friday, and why not? They haven't lost in Sunrise since the arena was named after a rental car company back in 2000.
Florida is unbeaten at home (the arena is now named after a bank, although it was previously sponsored by an office supply company whose name ryhmes with 'Home Depot') and needs a win desperately.
The Panthers head back to Atlanta on Saturday, and that joint ain't been kind to the Cats. Florida failed to win a single game there last year and has lost six straight. Hotlanta? You bet. Jacques might want to take the boys to the Varsity before the game. Forget all those protein shakes and energy bars; the Panthers might just need a chilli dog and a chocolate and vanilla shake.
NEWS: Janis Sprukts was called up from Rochester because Todd Bertuzzi is out with back spasms. Jacques says Bert will miss the weekend games.
-- Joe Nieuwendyk and Ville Peltonnen practiced Friday morning, but JM wouldn't say when either will be back in the lineup.
-- Ed Belfour will start in net tonight, Alex Auld going in Atlanta.
-- Greg Campbell is the new center of the fourth line, Chris Gratton sliding over to the wing. And he ain't happy about it. Read more in Saturday's Herald. Trust me, good stuff out of Grats. He's a good guy who is very frustrated right now.