Not too long ago, it looked like this Florida Panthers team might actually make the playoffs, but a recent push by the Boston Bruins has made that hill much steeper. There is still a chance that the Cats sneak in, but even if they don't, this season has to be considered a big step in the right direction for a franchise that all too often has found itself going the other way. In November, these two teams met for the only other time this season and Florida came out on top by a score of 6-2, led by their emerging star Nick Bjugstad and his four-point game.
The Ducks are 1-1-1 so far on this road trip and 6-3-1 in their last ten games, but since they are entrenched atop the Pacific Division, points are less of a concern than how the team plays. Coming off a shootout loss to the Nashville Predators on Sunday, the Panthers are 3-5-2 in their last ten.
Neither Frederik Andersen nor Hampus Lindholm practiced with the team on Monday. Both players were injured during Sunday's game agains the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Swede with a lower body issue and the Dane with a head injury from an impact with the goal net. Both are day to day, and I'm not optimistic about seeing either of them play on Tuesday.
If Lindholm is out, Ben Lovejoy, who sat in favor of Eric Brewer for reasons unfathomable, will likely draw back in. Ilya Bryzgalov should get the start.
Corey Perry was named the second star of the week in the NHL after picking up four goals and two assists in four games. He will, of course, play alongside Ryan Getzlaf, who picked up a goal and assist in his return to action on Sunday after missing a couple of games. As always, who plays on their left side remains to be seen, but as long as Matt Beleskey goes unsigned, his name will continue to pop up in trade rumors.
Willie Mitchell (upper body injury) and Sean Bergenheim (flu) both missed Sunday's game against Nashville. Mitchell is expected to remain out against the Ducks, but Bergenheim could return.
What Can We Learn From This Game?:
We can further learn how one of the most exciting teenagers in recent memory, Aaron Ekblad, plays the game. Don't be surprised if he makes a couple plays that look like what Victor Hedman did to our defense to set up the Bolts' first goal on Sunday.
As far as the Ducks are concerned, we may get to watch a game in which Ben Lovejoy is our third best defenseman. As the trade deadline approached, hopefully this provides an indication of how much room there is for improvement.
Ilya Bryzgalov gives up a goal that he really shouldn't, then plays really, really well for the rest of the game and drags this defense into overtime. Matt Beleskey scores a goal somewhere along the way, because why not.