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On the Trail

MagnumCovering the Florida Panthers for the Miami Herald is a lot like being a private investigator.

I'm always out there looking for answers, you know, asking questions, peeking in doors, looking into garbage cans. Sometimes the answers come easy, sometimes you have to wait a while. Eventually, though, the truth comes out.

The Panthers play host to Montreal here in a little bit. Here's what we know: The Panthers called up defenseman Martin Lojek from the minors. Here's what we don't: Why. Talked to JM the GM just moments ago. He says the Lojek call-up was for a precaution.

What precaution? JM remained tight lipped. Is it Bryan Allen? Nothing. Mezei? Blank stare. Bouwmeester, Cullimore, Montador, Salei? Nada.

So we wait and we see. Maybe Lojek plays tonight, maybe he doesn't. If he does, my sense of deduction tells me to see who is not playing and, voila!, there's your injured Panther. But what's the injury? The questions, my friends, never end.

-- The player in question, The Miami Herald has learned, is Ruslan Salei. But he's out there, looks fine and is in the lineup tonight. So, moot point after all.

-- Good media coverage for this game tonight. In Canada anyway. The back media lot looks like its playoff time. Four, count 'em, four TV production trucks are crammed into spots where only two usually park. The reason: One for FSN, two for Canada's ESPN (some call it TSN) and one for French ESPN (nickname RDS).

That's a whole lotta TV. Tonight's game is being broadcast to the southern part of Florida, and to all of Canada. Right now, they are almost one and the same. Game is also shown nationwide by those who have my newest, favorite network -- the NHL Network.

-- Rumors that Saku Koivu wasn't going to play tonight because of illness seem unfounded. The Habs' captain is out there for warmups and expected to be in the lineup.

-- Welcome to southern Quebec where the Panthers just got booed in their own building when coming onto the ice. Lot of red in here, and it's mostly Canadiens' road red.

-- Lojek is officially a healthy scratch; Koivu is playing.

-- So, what else is on TV tonight?

-- Game update for those watching the Andy Griffith Show marathon on TV Land: Vokoun back in net to start the second period; FLA actually outshooting  Habs 17-6 right now. Of course, it's still 3-0...

--  And should Gregory Campbell have been given five minutes for fighting if he didn't actually throw a punch? He had some nice wrestling moves though, and should have been awarded two points for the takedown.