Gameday 76 – Panthers

1:00 pm
CONSOL Energy Center
Sure, beating the Red Wings, Flyers and Devils feels nice, but it would be a huge mistake to assume that this team today is any less important.  The Pens are five points ahead of the Lightning, with home-ice advantage at stake.  The Pens are still four points behind the Flyers who have played one fewer game.  The Panthers are in 14th place in the East, one point ahead of the Senators.  Much like recent games against Ottawa and Edmonton, the Pens need to come into this game will killer instinct and take advantage of a bad team.

Know your enemy: Litter Box Cats

The Panthers usually turn in strong late season performances against the Penguins, but the team is a bit of a disaster right now. The Penguins, for their part, are missing stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, but haven't stopped winning games. They're currently seeded fourth in the Eastern Conference though they have four points on the third place Bostom Bruins and are only four points back from the Conference and Atlantic Division leading Philadelphia Flyers. They're spending the next several weeks without the services of one Matt Cooke, who was suspended until the second round of the playoffs for being a violent moron. Crosby won't be back for today's game, but the Panthers probably don't have much chance of winning. The best they can hope for is to not be embarrassed.

Season series: Penguins Lead 2-0
Last meeting: December 22, 2010 – Penguins Won 5-2
What we said in our recap:

Lose two straight, win two straight. The Pens bankrolled themselves with 12 straight wins, so now they can afford to drop a few and win them back. The Panthers came in playing some good hockey, but the Penguins took them out early. Before leaving with an injury, Brent Johnson played a hell of game. The Pens had a rough stretch in the second period, and Beej closed the door.

Penguins notes: games suck.
Panthers notes:
David Booth is questionable for today. He was hit in the throat with a puck during Friday's game.

Line production the last 10 games: Penguins | Panthers
Favorite Panthers-related Photoshop or gif:
Oh God.
Penguins lines:

Chris Kunitz – Jordan Staal – Tyler Kennedy
James Neal – Mike ComrieAlexei Kovalev
Pascal Dupuis – Max Talbot – Chris Conner
Mike Rupp – Craig Adams – Arron Asham

Brooks Orpik – Kris Letang
Paul Martin – Zbynek Michalek
Ben Lovejoy – Matt Niskanen

Marc-Andre Fleury

Panthers Lines from Empty Netters:

Sergei Samsonov – Stephen Weiss – Niclas Bergfors
David Booth – Marty Reasoner – Evgeny Dadonov
Patrick Rissmiller – Mike Santorelli – Michal Repik
Darcy Hordichuk – Ryan Carter – Steve Bernier

Keaton Ellerby – Dmitry Kulikov
Alexander Sulzer – Mike Weaver
Jay Garrison – Joe Callahan

Tomas Vokoun

Scoreboard Watching:
As much as it hurts to say, go Bruins.

Do It.
Go Pens.