Florida Panthers Visit New York Rangers: Game 40 Preview

SUNRISE, FL - DECEMBER 30: Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist #30 of the New York Rangers stops a shot by Stephen Weiss #9 of the Florida Panthers on December 30, 2011 at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida. The Rangers defeated the Panthers 4-1. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

The Panthers look to even the season series with the NHL leading New York Rangers tonight in Madison Square Garden.

Florida will be visiting the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden tonight in New York City. This is the fourth and final meeting between the Eastern Conference division leaders this season. Florida is 10-8-2 on the road this season, while the Rangers are 11-3-2 at home. For Florida, this is the first game of a short two game back-to-back road trip. They go on to face the New Jersey Devils tomorrow night. For New York, tonight's game represents a one day homestand. They finished up a three game road trip this past Monday in the Winter Classic in Philadelphia, winning 3-2. They also lost to the Washington Capitals 4-1 before taking care of the Panthers with a 4-1 victory this past Friday.

The last time the two teams met was December 30th in Sunrise. The Rangers won, 4-1 on goals from Michael Del Zotto, Brandon Dubinsky, Carl Hagelin and Brad Richards. Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist stoned the Panthers with 27 of a possible 28 saves. Matt Bradley tallied the lone marker for the Cats with an assist by Erik Gudbranson. Scott Clemmensen took the loss in net, allowing three first period goals on the Rangers first 14 shots before being pulled by coach Kevin Dineen in favor of Jose Theodore. Theodore saved 10 of 11 shots in relief.

Rangers @ Panthers 12/30/11 (via NHLVideo)

In Florida's last game, the Panthers took care of the Montreal Canadiens, 3-2 in Sunrise. Tomas Fleischmann scored two for the Panthers, including an empty netter. Shawn Matthias added his seventh goal of the season as Brian Campbell, Ed Jovanovski, Jason Garrison and Stephen Weiss each tallied assists. Jose Theodore saved nine of 10 shots before a "lower body injury" sidelined him four minutes into the second period. Scott Clemmensen saved 17 of 18 shots in relief for the win.

Canadiens @ Panthers 12/31/11 (via NHLVideo)

The Rangers last effort was a very public affair, the 2012 Winter Classic against the Flyers in Philadelphia. The Rangers took the decision, 3-2 with two goals by Mike Rupp and the game winner with Brad Richards 14th goal of the season. Henrik Lundqvist saved 34 of 36 shots for the victory.

NHL Winter Classic 01/02/12 (via NHLVideo)

Season Series: 1-2-0

All-Time Series: 30-35-11

Game Time: 7:00 EST

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Standings:

Florida Panthers: 20-12-7, 47 points, first Southeast Division, third Eastern Conference, ninth NHL, on pace for 99 points.

New York Rangers: 24-9-4, 52 points, first Northeast Division, first Eastern Conference, first NHL, on pace for 115 points. Injuries:


Florida Panthers Injuries

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
Mikael Samuelsson other-excused 12/21/2011
Jack Skille shoulder 12/17/2011


New York Rangers Injuries

Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Michael Sauer concussion 12/06/2011
Steve Eminger shoulder 12/18/2011

Starting Lineups:

Goalies: Jose Theodore (14-8-4) is currently injured and is expected to miss a minimum of two weeks. Jacob Markstrom (2-3-1) has been recalled from San Antonio to fill in while Theodore recovers. Scott Clemmensen (4-1-2) is also available. Conventional wisdom dictates that Kevin Dineen will have each of the goaltenders to man the nets for one game each. Dineen usually plays his cards close to the vest, so look for a decision closer to gametime.

Forwards: After missing several games due to a concussion, it appears that Marcel Goc may be ready to suit up for tonight's game. Mikael Samuelsson also appears to be ready to take the ice. In addition, Florida has shored up their roster by signing three-time Stanley Cup Champion John Madden to the team.

1. Fleischmann - Weiss - Versteeg

2. Kopecky - Matthias - Repik

3. Kennedy - Goc - Thomas

4. Bradley - Madden - Samuelsson

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 61 with the Panthers, passing Dave Lowry into 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 will play in his 165th game for the Panthers tonight, tying him with Cory Stillman in 48th.

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 tied with Olli Jokinen with 231 all-time assists for the Florida Panther's record.

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Team Leaders:

Goals:

Kris Versteeg - 17

Tomas Fleischmann - 15

Stephen Weiss, Jason Garrison - 11

Assists:

Brian Campbell - 28

Stephen Weiss - 22

Kris Versteeg - 21

Tomas Fleischmann - 19

Points:

Kris Versteeg - 38

Tomas Fleischmann - 34

Stephen Weiss - 33

Brian Campbell - 31

Plus/Minus:

Stephen Weiss - plus-17

Kris Versteeg - plus-14

Tomas Fleischmann - plus-nine

Jason Garrison - plus-seven

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