NEW YORK – The Panthers have a big test tomorrow against the New York Rangers, a team that has been playing so poorly of late it just got its coach fired despite most knowing the problems probably weren't as much Tom Renney as it was the guys wearing those blue sweaters.
The Panthers coaching staff doesn't have much to go on in how to prepare for the Rangers.
Or do they?
The Rangers play their first game of the John Tortorella Era tonight in Toronto. Believe me, the Florida coaching staff will not be taking in any Broadways shows tonight. If they decide to hit Little Italy for dinner, the place better have MSG tuned into the televisions.
The Florida coaches will be watching the Maple Leafs-Rangers game very intently.
Pete DeBoer has coached against the Rangers, but he hasn't coached against these Rangers. Expectations are that Tortorella is going to open things up. The Rangers haven't been very creative offensively, and I don't know if a change in coaching on Monday is going to change that this early.
What the Panthers will draw on is the experience of assistant coaches Mike Kitchen and Pierre Groulx. They know the Tortorella Lightning, and they figure this New York team is going to look a lot like those Tampa teams. Pete says they didn't go deep into the film vault to pull out old Tampa tape, although that may not be a bad idea. Might want to ask JM the former coach his thoughts on Tortorella's tendencies.
You might be surprised, but JM never had a losing record against the Lightning in his three years as coach of the Panthers.
In the past three seasons, Florida was 15-9 against the Bolts.
Florida is looking for its third win in four tries against the Rangers on Thursday.
-- Martin Brodeur is back, starting in net for the Devils tomorrow night against the Nordiques. If all goes well, will probably see him in net Saturday afternoon against the Panthers as well.