Matchup: Detroit Red Wings vs. Florida Panthers
Venue: BB&T Center; Miami, FL
Time: 7:30 PM
Television: Detroit- FSD; Florida- FS-Florida
The Detroit Red Wings (25-19-12; 62 points, 5th place Atlantic Division) got a combined shutout from their goaltenders on Monday night for the first time since October 2001. The Red Wings would later go on to win the Stanley Cup that season. They hope that is a good omen for this season, though they still have work to do just to make the playoffs. To do that, the Red Wings will need to get healthier as a team to keep pace in the Eastern Conference. They will get a major lift when they get arguably their best player back in Pavel Datsyuk. Datsyuk has been out of action for a few weeks with a knee injury and the Red Wings have been forced to use their young players from the minors to fill in in his absence who have filled in very well. If the Red Wings are to make a run at the playoffs and the Stanley Cup, they will need the players of Datsyuk’s caliber to make it happen. The Red Wings could also use the help of Datsyuk to win their first road game in five tries.
The Florida Panthers (22-27-7, 51 points, 7th place Atlantic Division) have lost three out of their past four games coming into tonight and have failed to play consistent hockey this season. Against the Red Wings though, the Panthers have played about as consistent as you can get. Tonight, they will go for their fourth win in five games against the Red Wings. The Panthers have struggled with goaltending lately, as they have given up four or more goals in four of their past five games, three of those games being losses. With the way the Red Wings have been able to perform offensively lately, they could be in for another big night given Florida’s struggles in goal.
Starting in goal for the Red Wings will be Jimmy Howard. Howard was meant to be given a break on Monday night before Jonas Gustavsson left the game with dizziness. The start will be Howard’s fourth straight game he’s played in.
The Panthers will counter with Tim Thomas tonight against the Red Wings. Tonight will be Thomas’ first start of the season against the Red Wings. Thomas has been anything from consistent this season, posting a 15-16-1 record with a 2.74 GAA and a .912 save percentage.