Who: Florida Panthers (17-16-7, 41 points) at Pittsburgh Penguins (23-13-6, 52 points)
What: A chance for Cats to make a move
Where: PPG Paints Arena – Pittsburgh, PA
When: January 8, 7PM EST
Why: Because Florida needs a win
The Florida Panthers must start reeling in the teams ahead of them in the standings, instead of just reeling.
They face a Penguins team staring at them through the rear-view mirror. Pittsburgh is hot, prior to their loss Sunday against the Blackhawks they were winners of eight in a row. Meanwhile the Panthers have lost two straight games by the same 4-3 margin.
Florida must try to contain a potent Penguin power play which ranks fifth in the NHL with a 27% success rate. The flightless birds also rank fifth in goals per game and total goals overall league- wide.
It’s game day!
— Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) January 8, 2019
Pittsburgh Still a Force
Hockey fans know all about “Sid the Kid” Sidney Crosby who continues to be one of the best in the business. The 31 year-old Crosby leads Pittsburgh with 51 points on 19 goals and 32 assists. He’s also still with his running mate Evgenii Malkin who has 13 goals and 31 assists, good for 44 points.
If Casey DeSmith (12-7-4) gets the start in goal for Pittsburgh, it could be a long night for the Panthers offense. DeSmith ranks in the top five in both goals against average (2.47) and save percentage (.924).
It will be crucial for the third ranked Panthers’ power play to get going, chances may be few and far between against a veteran laden and supremely talented Penguins squad.
Roberto Luongo (8-8-1, 3.24 GAA, .896 SV%) will likely get the call in goal. James Reimer took the loss against Columbus on Sunday. That loss was not all on Reimer, there were many mental mistakes from his mates up front and on the blue line.
Florida must play a sharp mental game or they will be in for a long night. They must protect Luongo and not give Pittsburgh anything easy.
Jonathan Huberdeau has been on a tear lately and is now tied for ninth in the NHL with 35 assists.
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