RADIO: 560 WQAM (Miami) (Randy Moller), Team 1200 (Ottawa) (Dean Brown, Gord Wilson, Dave Schreiber)
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The Florida Panthers return to action Thursday, following coach Peter DeBoer's 100th win. The Panthers beat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 Tuesday night in Sunrise. The Ottawa Senators are statistically the worst team in the Eastern Conference and are just 1 point better than league worst Edmonton. However, Ottawa is also coming off a win. They Beat the New Jersey Devils 2-1 on Tuesday in Newark.
LONG TIME NO SEE! The Panthers welcome the Senators for the first time in almost a year. Ottawa last visited the BankAtlantic Center on April 6, 2010. Florida fell in that game 5-2. It was Daniel Alfredsson's 1000th game and Mike fisher scored two goals. Florida is 0-2 against Ottawa in 2010-2011. They fell 5-3 on October 28 and most recently dropped a 5-1 decision on February 23, just days before the Panthers fire sale.
RETOOLING: Floirda and Ottawa share a common goal: Retooling. Both teams are building for the future. Ottawa traded away Chris Campoli to Chicago on the trade deadline day and Mike Fisher left to join his country music star wife, Carrie Underwood, in Nashville a few weeks prior. Ottawa also took part in a "goalie swap", flipping Brian Elliott to Colorado in exchange for former Panther Craig Anderson. Elliott has had little success since joining Colorado, posting an 0-3 record. Anderson, however, is 5-3 since stepping in as the Senator's starter.
HEY, NOW...YOU'RE AN ALL STAR: Looking forward to next season, Ottawa will be hosting the NHL All Star Game in 2012. It will mark only the third time since 2000 that a Canadian team will host the mid-winter classic. This also marks the second time the All Star Game will be in a nations Capital. In 1982, the Washington Capitals hosted the game, with the Wales Conference beating the Campbell Conference 4-2 at the Capital Centre. It is fitting that the team will host next year, as it will be the 20th season of the current version of the Senators.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: David Booth has scored a goal in each of his last three games. The Ottawa Senators have killed off the past 27 penalties, so the Panthers will have to stay out of the box if they want to be successful. While nobody will admit it, both teams are playing for a shot at the number one over draft pick, so look for a good battle tonight.
SEASON TICKETS, ANYONE? Fans who purchase a season ticket package at tonight's game, will get a dollar back for every dollar they spend tonight. This includes ticket prices, concessions, and any purchases at the team store. This is just the Panthers' latest attempt to draw in season ticket holders, but the reality they face is it will be very hard to grow the sport and get new fans or season ticket holders until they make the playoffs and play consistent competitive hockey.