Date: Thursday December 29, 2016
Opponent: Montreal Canadiens
Location: BB&T Center Sunrise, FL (Home)
Montreal Canadiens (21-9-5; 47 Points; 1st in the Atlantic; Lost in Overtime to Tampa Bay on Wednesday 4-3)
Florida Panthers (15-14-7; 37 Points; 6th in the Atlantic; Lost in the Shootout to Toronto on Wednesday 3-2)
Season Series: Game 2. Florida leads 1-0; FLA (1-0-0) MTL (0-0-1)
Al Montoya will make his first start against his former team the Florida Panthers. Montoya was the backup from 2014-16 behind Roberto Luongo for the Cats. Montoya was a big part of Florida’s success last year with several stellar performances. However, the Big Cubano was let go because the Panthers wanted a younger goalie to backup the 37 year old Roberto Luongo. That was James Reimer who signed a 5 year deal on the first day of free agency. Reimer will get the start tonight after Luongo made 38 saves in Florida’s 3-2 shootout loss to Toronto last night.
The Panthers lost Center Aleksander Barkov to an undisclosed injury aganist Toronto. Barkov took a slap shot to the back during the 2nd period in one of his last shifts. Keith Yandle, his own teammate was the shooter. “It’s like Pittsburgh losing Crosby” said second line center Vincent Trocheck on Barkov’s injury. Barkov has been red hot for about a month. Reilly Smith is also out and was placed on the injured reserve to make room for Michael Sgarbossa to be called up. Sgarbossa was acquired by the Panthers from the Ducks in a trade on November 16th. Logan Shaw was the return. Sgarbossa has 11 points in 13 games with Springfield. According to the Panthers NHL.com roster, Sgarbossa who wore #16 in Springfield will wear #48 with the Cats which coincidentally was Logan Shaw’s number when he played for Florida. Vincent Trocheck who hurt his left foot last night is questionable for tonight’s game. Nick Bjugstad will likely fill in for Barkov on the top line.
Scratched: McIllrath (Healthy), Sgarbossa (Healthy), Barkov (Undisclosed), Smith (Concussion), Petrovic (Ankle), Huberdeau (Severed Achillies Tendon)
Barkov- Will have an MRI today, but shouldn’t be anything serious
Smith- Has been put on IR, but it was the 7 day IR so he is still eligible to return for the New Years Eve in Dallas
Petrovic- 1 month away
Huberdeau- Skating, still on track for a mid-February return
Al Montoya (10 GP, 3-4-2, .905 SVPCT, 2.82 GAA)
James Reimer (13 GP, 4-5-2, .907 SVPCT, 2.71 GAA)
Note: This is also the big Matchup of the game.