Saturday, March 5, 2011

GAME DAY - Panthers @ Atlanta Thrashers 3/5/11 7:00 pm

PANTHERS GAME DAY
Florida Panthers (26-31-7 59 points)
vs
Montreal Canadiens (34-28-11 63 points)
Saturday, March 5, 2011 7:00 pm - Phillips Arena, Atlanta, GA
TV: FS-Florida (Steve Goldstein/Bill Lindsay)
RADIO: 560 WQAM (Miami) (Randy Moller), WCNN 680 The Fan (Atlanta) (Dan Kamal)

* * *
The Florida Panthers make a less than 24-hour trip to Atlanta after losing Thursday night to the Montreal Canadiens on home ice 4-0. This will be the final meeting of the season between the two Southeast Division foes. Each team has won on the others home ice. Atlanta took the first meeting 4-3 in November at the BankAtlantic Center. A couple of weeks later, Florida returned the favor on the Thrashers' ice, edging them out 2-1. Games three and four of the series both ended with Atlanta on top 3-2. Most recently, last week, the Panthers returned to Atlanta to take a 2-1 decision against the struggling Thrashers

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Radek Dvorak faces his old team for the first time since being traded on Monday. Dvorak is the Panthers leader in games played, and was drafted by the team with the 10th overall pick in 1995, and playing his first season in 1995-96. At the time he was traded, Dvorak was the only Panther from the 1996 Stanley Cup team that was still a member of the club (although he made a few stops along the way). Dvorak is also one of a shrinking list of players that played in the 1996 Stanley Cup Finals still active. He recently played in his 1,100th game. With every trade comes the "other" player. In this case it's Niclas Bergfors. The Swede has played 54 games, scoring 11 goals and helping on 18 others. He has played two for those games as a Panther and has not yet been involved in scoring. The 23rd overall pick by New Jersey in 2005 has appeared in almost 1,000 less games than Dvorak and as I mentioned in the column before the last game, is a restricted free agent after this season.

BOLD PREDICTION: I think the Thrashers will win this and break the streak of home teams struggling in this series. The Panthers were less than impressive Thursday, and they will send Tomas Vokoun back out there tonight to redeem himself, He has played in 4 of the 5 matchups against Atlanta, posting a 2-2-1 record against the Thrashers this season. However, Atlanta needs this win and they know it, the pressure will mount for sure, but I feel they can overcome it and take the game in another tightly contested battle. 4-3 Atlanta is my "Bold" Prediction.

PROBABLE GOALIES: 
FLA - Tomas Vokoun 20-23-4 2.59 GAA .921 SV %
MTL - Chris Mason 8-10-33.45 GAA .895 SV %

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