Tuesday, March 22, 2011 7:00 PM, Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
TV: FS-Florida, MSG (New York)
RADIO: 560 WQAM (Miami) 1050 AM ESPN Radio (New York)
* * *
BACK ON THE ROAD: The Panthers return to the road after a successful 7 game homestand, which saw them go 3-2-2, earning 8 out of 14 points. They earned victories over three potential playoff teams: Chicago, Tampa Bay, and Toronto. The Toronto victory was their most convincing of the homestand, and possibly the season, beating them 4-0. They also saw themselves losing in overtime against Washington (another playoff team), and the New York Islanders to bookend the homestand. Perhaps most odd, however, was their two losses: Philadelphia (who they have had success against), and the worst team in the Eastern Conference, the Ottawa Senators. The Panthers find themselves tied with the Islanders for 13th in the conference, and with 10 games remaining, find themselves 5 points out of the "bottom three". A lot more will be known about the Panthers' 2011 draft situation after this week's road trip, which is exactly half of the remaining 2010-11 schedule. Following that, Florida will play 3 of their final 5 games at home. The reamining home games are: March 31 against Ottawa, April 2nd against Pittsburgh, and closing day April 9 against Washington. Florida will continue trying to play spoiler on this road trip as the next three opponents; the Rangers, Chicago Blackhawks, and Buffalo sabres; battle for playoff spots. The Pittsburgh Penguins are also playing for seeding.
TRADE DEADLINE EXPRESS: The "Trade Deadline" Express makes its next stop in New York tonight. Bryan McCabe plays his first game against the team he spent two and a half seasons with. McCabe has 6 goals this year, with one of those coming in his 10 appearances with the Rangers. He also has 4 assists with New York. The Rangers' powerplay is 10-37 since McCabe's arrival in the Big Apple, but over the past three games the Panthers' penalty kill has been a perfect 12-12. The 34-year old defenseman started his career on Long Island. He was drafted New York Islanders in the 2nd round in 1993 and made his debut, playing all 82 games in 1995-96.
SEASON SERIES: Florida holds the lead in the season series 2-1, but the teams split the series in Florida. The Rangers took game 1 3-0 on November 26 while game 2 went to Florida by the same score on January 3rd. Florida took the first game at the World's Most Famous Arena 4-3 on January 24th. Mike Santorelli has 3 points against New York this year. Each goal was scored by a different Panther, with Niclas Bergfors also scoring a goal against the Rangers this year. Tomas Vokoun has both wins this year, including the shutout on January 3rd.
FLA - Tomas Vokoun
NYI - Henrik Lundqvist