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Wing Country: Florida Panthers @ Buffalo Sabres ... New Lines, Same Lineup ... Vokoun is the Man ... You Ask, I Answer ... Scoreboard Watch, Standings

Tommyboy2 BUFFALO - Just got back from lunch with some of the people who cover the Panthers.

Hard to believe it, but Goldie, Billy, Steve X. and myself had chicken wings for lunch.

That's right, chicken wings in Buffalo. Who would have thought it?

And they were gooood...

-- New lines for tonight as the Panthers try something - anything - to create some offense.

Nothing major, but here you go:

Olesz-Weiss-Booth; Stillman-Horton-Zednik; CPR; Frolik-Kreps-McLean.

Nick Boynton remains in the lineup.

-- Those who were hoping to see Craig Anderson get some playing time in the coming days may as well forget it.

Pete DeBoer said today that Vokoun is getting all the playing time as we go down the stretch. I would guess that if Vokoun got hurt or Florida lost three or four straight and were out of it, maybe we'll see Andy. But the way DeBo's talking, it's Vokoun. All day, every day.

-- Buffalo is starting Mikael Tellqvist tonight even though Patrick Lalime beat the Cats the last time out. Tellqvist is 0-1 lifetime against the Panthers.

-- I know a lot of you don't read the comments, but here are some answers to some questions:

It's going to be tough, no doubt about that. NY seemingly has the toughest sked, Montreal the easiest. But if FLA can't score goals, it has a tough road:

Mar 25 at Buffalo - Winable, dont play well here
Mar 26 at Philadelphia - tough double-dip, have played them well
Mar 28 at Dallas - Stars cashing it in, but tough roadie
Mar 31 vs Ottawa - on fire
Apr 3 vs Atlanta - should be a W
Apr 5 vs Pittsburgh - tough, tough, tough
Apr 7 at Philadelphia - again, tough
Apr 9 at Atlanta - should be W
Apr 11 vs Washington - we'll know where FLA stands

MONTREAL (up two points, even games before Weds)

Mar 26 vs Tampa Bay - um, W
Mar 28 vs Buffalo - we'll see after 2nite
Mar 31 vs Chicago - hawks struggling
Apr 2 at NY Islanders - um, W
Apr 4 at Toronto - leafs playing w/ pride
Apr 6 vs Ottawa - ditto
Apr 7 at NY Rangers - toughie
Apr 9 at Boston - do Bs cash it in here?
Apr 11 vs Pittsburgh - ditto

NY RANGERS (up 5, even games after Weds)
Mar 26 at Atlanta - W
Mar 28 at Pittsburgh - tough
Mar 30 vs New Jersey - tough
Apr 2 at Carolina - tough
Apr 4 at Boston - tough
Apr 7 vs Montreal - tough
Apr 9 vs Philadelphia - tough
Apr 12 at Philadelphia - tough

The Panthers? Fading in March? No way! That's WEIRD. Posted by: KS

This March is actually Florida's first bad one in a while. Usually they are out of it coming into the month and are playing with zero pressure. Not the case this time:

2005-06: 10-4-1
06-07: 9-4-1
07-08: 8-3-1
08-09: 4-4-3

-- Tuesday's Games (and how they affected the Panthers): Montreal beating the sweet tea out of the Thrashers moves the Canadiens two points ahead and ends a five game losing streak. The Rangers beating the listless and quite boring Wild doesn't help Florida's case.

-- Wednesday's Games (and who the Panthers would be rooting for if they weren't so busy playing Blackjack at Casino Niagara)

Panthers @ Sabres, 7: This is really the only game that matters for the Panthers right now since Montreal and the Rangers are off. Can Florida catch the Flyers, Penguins or Hurricanes? Probably not. So we'll ignore those teams for the time being. Things could change, sure. But it's eighth (maybe seventh) or nada.

If you care, the Hurricanes play host to Ottawa and the Calgary JokiKeenans visit Pittsburgh.

Actually, those who follow the Panthers might want to start paying attention to that tropical disturbance brewing in the south Atlantic. The Senators and Maple Leafs aren't a tropical storm yet, and they aren't a threat to South Florida right now, but you may want to keep an eye on them.

Toronto, believe it or not, is one point back of Buffalo (so six back of the FLA) and the Sens are seven points back. If the Panthers keep sliding, Canada might get one of their favored sons back into the postseason mix.

-- The Standings (presented by the Buffalo Bison, Gabriel's Gate and courtesy of yahoo.com)

 Eastern Conference
 Team GP Pts
 1. y-Boston 73 102  
 2. New Jersey 73 97  
 3. Washington 75 97  
 4. Philadelphia 72 90  
 5. Carolina 75 87  
 6. Pittsburgh 74 86  
 7. NY Rangers 74 86  
 8. Montreal 73 83  
 9. Florida 73 81  
 10. Buffalo 72 76  
 11. Toronto 74 75  
 12. Ottawa 72 74  
 13. Atlanta 74 66  
 14. Tampa Bay 73 64  
 15. NY Islanders 72 56  
 * = Division Leader
 Western Conference
 Team GP Pts
 1. x-Detroit 74 107  
 2. y-San Jose 72 106  
 3. Calgary 72 90  
 4. Chicago 71 87  
 5. Vancouver 72 87  
 6. Columbus 73 83  
 7. Edmonton 73 79  
 8. Anaheim 73 78  
 9. Nashville 73 78  
 10. St. Louis 73 77  
 11. Minnesota 73 76  
 12. Dallas 73 74  
 13. Los Angeles 73 70  
 14. Phoenix 73 67  
 15. Colorado 73 64  
 * = Division Leader