The Panthers are officially going to Europe, the NHL announcing the pairings of next season's openers on Thursday.
As you may have read somewhere before, the Panthers will be playing the Chicago Blackhawks in Helsinki, Finland. Also, the Red Wings and Blues will play in Stockholm.
This is the third straight season the NHL will open in Europe, starting when the Ducks and Kings moved their freeway series across the pond and kicked off the 2006-07 season in London.
In a strange twist, the Blackhawks are in town tonight. First time since Dec. 3, 2005. They won't be back next year either as the two games in Europe will satisfy the season series. That also takes away a Chicago trip. Great.
-- Tonight's games (and the teams Florida is rooting for)
Canes @ Isles, 7: Carolina is hurting these days, but so are Isles. Florida would like a NY win, but probably won't get it.
Sabres @ Flyers, 7: Philly is up in fourth, Sabres are tied with Panthers. Go with Flyboys here. In regulation.
Canadiens @ Penguins, 7: Have a feeling the Pens are going to make a run here. Don't know why. Still, today, Panthers need a Habs loss.
Jackets @ Leafs, 7:30: No great shakes and won't have anything to do with the east race.
Vancouver @ Sens, 7:30: Ottawa is still way back in the race. Too little, too late.
Devils @ Lightning, 7:30: Doesn't really affect the Panthers in any way.
Blackhawks @ Panthers, 7:30: Panthers are rooting for Chicago here.
Blues @ Preds, 8: No bearing on the east although it will be interesting to see if Preds bounce back from that beatdown in Motown.
Flames @ Wild, 8: Watch if you want...
Oil @ Stars, 8:30: Both teams jockeying for position in west. Should be a good one.
Thrash @ Coyotes, 9: ATL is having quite the trip west after sweeping the Freeway Series with wins in Anaheim and Los Angeles. Coyotes are hurting. Hurting. If PHX loses this one, the fire sale may just be on.
Kings @ Sharks, 10:30: Big win for the Kings last night. Sharks are struggling a bit right now, but win on Tuesday might have righted that teal-and-black ship.
-- The Standings (brought to you by The Billy Goat Tavern in Chicago)