Yeah, we know how the Penguins have been dominated by the Panthers in the past few years, but those days may be long gone.
We'll find out for sure tonight.
Pittsburgh has won only once in the past nine tries in Sunrise, and that was last year when the Panthers had just been mathematically eliminated from postseason contention. The fellas sure didn't give their best that night.
But, let me tell ya, the Penguins have been giving their best for quite some time now. Since being beaten by the Panthers back on Jan. 10, the Pens have gone an amazing 14-1-2 with their lone regulation loss coming Monday on Long Island.
The Panthers have their hands (claws?) full tonight. Also, Pittsburgh has really struggled in Tampa Bay as well. They've only won once in the past 10 tries there. Welcome to the Sunshine State, Pens.
THE NEWS: Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien has benched starter Marc-Andre Fluery in favor of backup Jocelyn Thibault for tonight's game. Hey, either Therrien is ticked off at MAF (which it sure sounded like Monday) or he's seen Florida's record against backups this season. Don't feel like doing the research right now, but let's just say the backups have a very good winning percentage against the Cats this season.
-- The big news in Pantherland is that Todd Bertuzzi won't play tonight, and probably won't play Saturday either. That means he will not have returned to play in a game after his back surgery before Tuesday's 3 p.m. EST trading deadline. One might deduct that Florida probably won't get much in return for an unproven Bertuzzi, so the bet is dude stays right where he is.
Also hearing Gary Roberts wanting an extra year tacked on to his contract if he is traded is slowing any potential deal. Me thinks JM wants to resign both Todd and Gary for next year and, at least in Todd's case, beyond. Keeping those two around will help in that. Can't blame Gary for wanting to go to a legitimate playoff contender though, and it looks like he's giving max effort to the Panthers. So if he goes, he goes with a clean conscience.