Florida Panthers Vs. New York Rangers: Game 38 Preview

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 11: Brandon Dubinsky #17 of the New York Rangers and Kris Versteeg #32 of the Florida Panthers pursue the puck at Madison Square Garden on December11, 2011 in New York City. Rangers defeated the Panthers 6-1. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

The New York Rangers are visiting the Cats in Sunrise tonight for what they consider a "tune-up" for the Winter's Classic. Can a well rested Panthers squad win their second game in a row?

Florida will be hosting the New York Rangers at Bank Atlantic Centre tonight in Sunrise. This is the third of four meetings between the Eastern Conference rivals and the second of two games they will play in Florida. Florida is 9-3-5 at home this season, while the Rangers are 11-6-2 on the road. This is the second game of a three game homestand. They beat the Toronto Maple Leafs, 5-3 on Tuesday and go on to host the Montreal Canadians on New Years Eve. The Rangers are two games into a three game roadtrip. They lost to the Washington Capitals, 4-1 on Wednesday and will go on to face the Philadelphia Flyers in the NHL's fifth Annual Winter's Classic on January 2nd.

The last time the two teams met was December 11th in New York City. The Rangers demolished the Panthers, 6-1 as Derek Stepan scored twice and assisted on a third as 11 different Rangers got onto the scoresheet. Erik Gudbranson potted the only goal for the Panthers, his first career NHL goal. Kris Versteeg and Stephen Weiss were awarded assists on the play. Jose Theodore allowed all six goals on 22 shots through the first two periods in the loss. Scott Clemmensen saved all 11 shots in the third.

Panthers @ Rangers 12/11/11 (via NHLVideo)


In Florida's last game, the Panthers sent the Toronto Maple Leafs home disappointed on the wrong side of a 5-3 match. Jason Garrison extended his NHL defensemen scoring lead with his 11th marker of the season. Kris Versteeg, Tomas Fleischmann, Bill Thomas and Erik Gudbranson also scored for the Cats. Jose Theodore saved 29 of 32 shots for the win.

Maple Leafs @ Panthers 12/27/11 (via NHLVideo)

The Rangers lost to the Washington Capitals, 4-1 on Wednesday night. Brandon Dubinsky scored his third goal of the season for the Rangers and Martin Biron allowed four goals on 23 shots in the loss. Ex-Panther's goaltender Tomas Vokoun saved 31 of 32 shots for the Caps.

Rangers @ Capitals 12/28/11 (via NHLVideo)


Season Series: 1-1-0
All-Time Series: 30-34-11
Game Time: 7:30 EST


Standings:

Florida Panthers: 19-11-7, 45 points, first Southeast Division, third Eastern Conference, 10th NHL, on pace for 100 points.

New York Rangers, 22-9-4, 48 points, first Atlantic Division, second Eastern Conference, fourth NHL, on pace for 112 points.

Injuries:


Florida Panthers Injuries

Questionable

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Stephen Weiss other-excused 12/28/2011
Mikael Samuelsson other-excused 12/28/2011

Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Sean Bergenheim other-excused 12/19/2011
Marcel Goc concussion 11/17/2011
Marco Sturm head 12/21/2011
Scottie Upshall other-excused 11/11/2011
Jack Skille shoulder 12/17/2011


New York Rangers Injuries

Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Marc Staal concussion 10/05/2011
Michael Sauer concussion 12/06/2011
Steve Eminger shoulder 12/18/2011



Goalies: Jose Theodore (14-8-4) and Scott Clemmensen (3-0-2) are both available for the Panthers, and since tonight's matchup is the first game of a back to back, each goalie should get one start. Henrik Lundqvist (15-7-4) should get the start for New York.

Forwards: Due to injury, over half of Florida's forwards are unable to perform in tonight's matchup. The Panthers have the equivalent of two full AHL lines in the starting lineup. John Madden is not yet signed as of this article's writing.

1. Fleischmann - Matthias - Bradley

2. Kopecky - Santorelli - Versteeg

3. Repik - Kennedy - Barch

4. Thomas - Cullen - Dadonov

Defense:

1. Campbell - Garrison

2. Jovanovski - Gudbranson

3. Kulikov - Weaver

Common Thread:

Rangers defenseman Steve Eminger played in nine games for Florida in 2008-09. He scored one goal with a plus-one rating with six penalty minutes for the Panthers.

Panthers forward Mikael Samuelsson played in 125 games for the Rangers over two seasons. He scored 14 goals and 24 assists with a plus-10 rating and 55 penalty minutes.


Team Milestones:

Ed Jovanovski's next goal will be his 32nd, which will move him into a tie for 32nd with Richard Zednik. His next assist will give him 60 with the Panthers, tying him with Dave Lowry, in 28th.

Mike Santorelli's next goal will be number 25 as a Panther, moving him into a tie with Mike Van Ryn in 44th place all-time.

Shawn Matthias' next goal will give him 22, moving him past Brett McLean into 47th.

Dmitry Kulikov's next assist will give him 51 for his career, moving him past Niklas Hagman into 38th place. One more point for Kulikov will give him 63, moving him past Dave Gagner into 47th place.

Stephen Weiss is second all-time with 230 assists, one less than Olli Jokinen.


Team Leaders:

Goals:

Kris Versteeg - 17

Tomas Fleischmann - 13

Stephen Weiss, Jason Garrison - 11

Assists:

Brian Campbell -27

Kris Versteeg, Stephen Weiss - 21

Tomas Fleischmann - 19

Points:

Kris Versteeg - 38

Stephen Weiss, Tomas Fleischmann - 32

Brian Campbell -30

Plus/Minus:

Stephen Weiss - plus-18

Kris Versteeg - plus-15

Tomas Fleischmann - plus-12

Jason Garrison - plus-7

For more on this matchup and all of your Florida Panthers needs, check out SB Nation's dedicated Panthers blog, at www.litterboxcats.com.

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