Gameday: Panthers at Penguins (10/11/11)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 – Florida Panthers at Pittsburgh Penguins.
7:30 PM Faceoff – CONSOL Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA.
TV: Versus, ROOT-Sports (PIT).
Radio: WQAM 560 (FLA), 105.9 FM (PIT)

The Florida Panthers make the second leg of their season opening road trip tonight, as they travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Penguins. Pittsburgh is opening their home season tonight, coming off a 3-2 Shootout loss to the Edmonton Oilers.

All Time Series: Pittsburgh leads the all time series 38-34-4 with a 22-14-3 record at home. The two teams have yet to play this season.

Last Time Out: Florida (1-0-0 2 Pts) shut out the New York Islanders on Saturday, 2-0. José Théodore stopped 29 shots for his 31st career shutout. Stephen Weiss and Jason Garrison each scored goals for the Panthers in the first period, which was all the scoring they needed. Scottie Upshall was handed a game misconduct late in the first period after being caught fighting without a fight strap.
Pittsburgh (2-0-1 3 Pts) started off the Vancouver Canucks (Thursday) and Calgary Flames (Saturday) seasons with victories. They couldn’t spoil Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ debut on Sunday. The First Overall pick in the 2011 entry draft scored the game tying goal late in the third period, sending the game to a shootout, which the Edmonton Oilers won. Kris Letang scored the lone goal for the Penguins in the early minutes of the opening frame. Brent Johnson got the start in net in the second half of a back-to-back Alberta swing. Evgeni Malkin was scratched from the game after sustaining what appeared to be a lower-body injury in the pre-game skate.

Scouting the Penguins: Marc-Andre Fleury has allowed six goals in his two starts so far this season. However, the 2003 First Overall pick won both of those games. Matt Cooke had two goals in the opener, and seven other players have a goal so far. Pittsburgh is without Sidney Crosby after his concussion last season, and may be without Malkin tonight, but they are a solid offense that skates hard. Letang, Jordan Staal, and Pascal Dupuis should pick up most of the slack until the two stars return.

The X-Factor: For Florida, we’ve seen the offense and the pressure. This is a team that can and will skate hard for 60 minutes, and is not afraid to play two-ways. The big question is still Théodore. He will face harder shots more often from this team, and will have to step up once again.
For Pittsburgh, Malkin has been ruled out of the game. Who will step up without him? You cannot take this Panthers team lightly anymore, and Malkin’s teammates will have to battle hard to get the W in their home opener tonight.
Cat Bytes:

  • The Panthers signed forward Jonathan Huberdeau to an entry-level contract Monday. Since the 2011-12 season has already begun, Huberdeau must play out his junior season before being called up to the Panthers, unless there is an emergency call-up situation which is unlikely. Huverdeau scored a goal in his first game with the Sea Dogs this season. He had 43 goals and 62 assists in 67 games last season with Saint John.

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