BUFFALO -- Good evening ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Buffalo Arena where the Florida Panthers try and remain among the Elite Eight in the Eastern Conference by beating the homestanding Buffalo Sabres.
As you can see in the standings listed below, it's still a tight, bunched up race in the east. The Panthers hold the eighth and final playoff slot in the east with 77 points. The Buffs are in 10th, four points back of the final spot. The New York Strangers are in ninth, one point back of the Leaping Cats.
If everything went Florida's way tonight -- a win and some losses from teams in front -- the Panthers could find themselves back in a tie for fifth in the east. Montreal is holding onto that spot with two extra points.
So lets see what happens. No local television tonight, so I'll be here for some play-by-play action (OK, not so much), will offer some jokes and general musings as the game goes along. If you don't have Center Ice, surely the game is being streamed somewhere, or you could find a place that bought the package.
For you old-school Victrola types, Randy 'Ma! The Meatloaf!' Moller and Billy 'I Beat the Bruins' Lindsay offer top-notch radio coverage.
-- From Mike in Kentucky: If I was charging a nickel per day to access this site today, would I take Buffalo nickels? As long as they aren't wooden, yes.
-- Anthony Stewart gets the call.
-- Pregame entertainment here is pretty good and something the Panthers really need to consider: Broadcasts of old games. Tonight, the 1996 Sabres take on the 1996 Panthers. Hey! There's Billy! And Doug McLean! Who's in goal? Why it's the Beezer!
Buffalo is leading 5-0, but there have been about a dozen fights. Fun stuff. Seriously Panthers: Start showing old games during pregame. It has to be better than the spinning Panther logo on the board.
LIVE! LIVE! LIVE!
-- About to do the anthems here in southern Ontario, so come on back as we kick this puppy off.
-- Starting Lineup -- FLA: Skrastins-Bouwmeester; Peltonen-Campbell-Dvorak; Vokoun.
-- Patrick 'Diet Coke with' Lalime is in net for the Sabrecats.
-- A few claps for Richard Zednik when he got to the puck. Was expecting more, quite frankly.
--SABRES SCORE -- JAROSLAV SPACEK SHOOTS THROUGH TRAFFIC AND GETS THE PUCK PAST EMINGER AND VOKOUN...ITS 1-0 SABRES @ 3:04...
-- Congrats to goalie coach Pierre Groulx and wife Wendy on their birth of their newest netminders Eli and Leo. They should be skating in about a month. You have to give them a little time to get going.
-- Vokoun just made a great save after Dominic Moore picked off the puck deep in the FLA zone and drove in. Pierre just tossed Leo into the air but made the glove save...
--MICHAL REPIK SHOOTS AND SCORES! AND I'LL HAVE A DIABLO SANDWICH AND A DR. PEPPER BUT MAKE IT QUICK BECAUSE I'M IN A HURRY! PANTHERS TIE IT AT 1 WITH 7:23 LEFT HERE IN THE FIRST. REPIK TWO GOALS IN FIVE NHL GAMES. THAT'S LIKE AN AVERAGE OF ONE PER GAME! ISN'T IT? I WAS TOLD THERE WOULD BE NO MATH.
-- If you know what movie the Fake Moller typed in, please leave in comment section. Thank you.
-- Just got a Facebook message from old OFP pal John Vogl of The Buffalo News. This game is going kind of slow...
-- Gilbert Perreault, center of the French Connection, is in da house. And that's always cool.
--SABRES MAKE IT 2-1...DANIEL PAILLE CHARGES UP THE LEFT SIDE, FIRES A SHOT THAT VOKOUN SHOULD HAVE STOPPED...WOULDA, COULDA, SHOULDA...IT'S 2-1 WITH 2:55 LEFT IN THE FIRST...
--Start of the second period here in Beefalo, Panthers take first penalty as Richard Zednik gets caught 'holding the stick' just 18 seconds into the period.
-- Vokoun just made a couple really sweet saves. Should be 3-1 right now...
-- Yeah Vokoun is on..he just made a leaping glove save of a shot from Thomas Vanek.Give that man a Gold Glove...
-- OK, that's the second...FLA 0-for-2 on the power play; Jay Bouwmeester just took a late penalty, so BUF on the power play for 1:50 to open the third...see you soon...
-- Sorry about the end of this one folks, was having serious internet issues and then had to go downstairs. Weird game, but the Panthers have a good chance to regroup with a five game homestand.
Fourteen games left; lots of time. But they needed a good showing here today and they just didn't seem to have it.
Buffalo did. They got some nice bounces and all, but you have a 5-on-3 for 67 seconds and you should score. The Panthers didn't. Good job by Patrick Lalime, too. Buffalo now 10-3 at home since Jan. 1.
-- Wednesday's Game (and how it affected the Panthers): Chicago beat Chicago in a shootout. Sure it was an exciting game, but I missed it. Canes get one point, enough to move back in front of the Panthers. Florida still has two in hand against the Canes.
-- Thursday's Games (and who the Panthers would be rooting for if they weren't busy sightseeing along the Erie Canal)
Panthers @ Sabres, 7 (LIVE!): Florida really likes Sabres coach Lindy Ruff and appreciate his fine coaching during the team's infancy (and run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1996). So, of course, Florida roots on the Sabres.
Caps @ Flyers, 7: Rare time the Panthers root on the Capitals. But, Flyers are still in site only five points up. Caps are 11 points up.
Penguins @ Blue Jackets, 7: Pens are red hot right now, but the Buckeyes are playing pretty good themselves. The Pens have to lose sometime, so why not tonight?
Palm Isles @ Canadiens, 7:30: The Habs came back to win in Bob Gainey's return to the bench. Can the Habs make it two straight. It is the Islanders, so, probably.
Rangers @ Predators, 8: Don't you love it when a team in the east playoff hunt plays a team in the west? Makes this rooting game awful easy.
Hurricanes @ Stars, 8:30: See above.
The Standings (Presented by Tim Hortons and Casino Niagara; courtesy of TSN.ca/nhl)
|2||New Jersey||66||43||20||3||89||205||164||23-10-1||20-10-2||7-3-0||Won 1|
|9||NY Rangers||67||34||25||8||76||167||183||20-10-4||14-15-4||4-4-2||Lost 1|
|14||Tampa Bay||67||21||32||14||56||173||223||11-14-9||10-18-5||2-5-3||Lost 4|
|15||NY Islanders||67||22||37||8||52||168||218||16-14-5||6-23-3||5-3-2||Lost 1|
|1||San Jose||65||43||12||10||96||215||163||26-3-4||17-9-6||5-4-1||Won 1|
|12||St. Louis||66||30||28||8||68||185||196||17-12-5||13-16-3||6-3-1||Won 1|
|13||Los Angeles||66||29||28||9||67||176||193||16-13-8||13-15-1||4-6-0||Won 3|