Carolina’s 5-game winning streak and their stellar home record go on the line again tonight as they welcome the Florida Panthers to PNC Arena for the rematch of the game that saw the Canes suffer their first loss of the season in a game that was very poorly officiated. This has the potential to be a great game as two of the best teams in hockey go toe-to-toe in the loudest house in the NHL.
Carolina is playing their 3rd choice netminder tonight due to an injury to their backup and their starter playing last night. The team will need to protect their netminder. Drop to the net and control the puck. You cannot afford to feed him to the Panthers in this one because he will get picked apart. He can shut the door but don’t require him to be as good as an NHL starter because he just isn’t that.
This might be a game where goals are going to happen rapidly and often. Carolina’s forwards have scored 13 goals in their last two games, so it would be a great help if they can get some run support for their lower-quality netminder. Let the top-end talent for the Canes’ attack see them through the game and get over the hump with a few scoring sprees to get past this Panthers team.
When the Canes take to the ice, they’re going to be on the 2nd half of a back-to-back and it’s likely that we will see fatigue set in as the game goes on. Getting on the board early and giving yourself some breathing space for later in the game could be the difference between adding 2 points to their standing totals, and dropping their 8th game of the year.