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The Lowdown: Panthers vs Coyotes

by "Hockey Pat" McGrath / Florida Panthers

THE LOWDOWN is a gameday preview produced by “Hockey Pat” McGrath, a lifelong Cats fan who previously wrote for the Florida Panthers themed blog “TheRatTrick”. The contents of THE LOWDOWN and all opinions expressed therein are solely those of Hockey Pat and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Florida Panthers or Sunrise Sports & Entertainment LLC. Having said that, if you find yourself laughing or smiling as you read the LOWDOWN, feel free to thank us. We accept thank you notes, tweets and ticket purchases.

Florida Panthers vs. Phoenix Coyotes

Panthers Coyotes
Record 24-33-7 30-24-11
Points 55 71
Place 7th in Atlantic 4th in Pacific

The Florida Panthers will be hosting a not-so-familiar opponent tonight when the Phoenix Coyotes come to BB&T Center for the first time since December, 2011. The Coyotes are locked in the middle of a tight Western Conference playoff battle and they currently sit just one point out of the final wild card spot, after a 4-3 shootout win last night in Tampa Bay.

Here is all you need to know about tonight’s game:

RED Hot Cats To Watch
Jimmy Hayes: With his two goal performance against the Bruins on Sunday, Jimmy Hayes brought his point total to four points in the last four games. With three goals during that span the 24-year-old winger appears to have found his scoring touch. The two goals on Sunday gave the Boston native seven goals on the season, topping his previous single season career high of five.

Roberto Luongo: Lu has been impressive in his first two games as the Panthers backstop since coming over in the trade deadline deal last week. He made 25 saves in Florida’s 2-0 shutout of Buffalo and followed up that performance by making 37 saves against the Bruins on Sunday.

Florida Back-to-Backs
A nice little benefit to the Panthers schedule the rest of the way is the number of home games they have against teams that are coming off a game in Tampa Bay the night before. Including Phoenix (who dropped Tampa 4-3 in the shootout last night) the Panthers’ remaining schedule features five teams playing the second half of their ‘Florida back-to-back trip’. Ottawa, Calgary, Dallas and Columbus are the other four teams who will play the Panthers one night after a game in Tampa.

Best Friends

Coyotes to Watch

#3 Keith Yandle: The Coyotes’ offensive minded defenseman has been living up to his production potential this season as his 43 points (7-37-44) rank 5th among NHL defensemen.

#23 Oliver Ekman-Larsson: Ekman-Larsson completes the pair of talented offensive defenders boasted by the Coyotes. At just 22-years-old the 6’2” Swede is on pace to become one of the top defenders in the game. Some might even argue that he is already there.

Vintage NHL

Let’s just take a moment to be thankful that the Coyotes moved on from these….although I do appreciate the cactus-mountain moonlight scene on the alternate jersey.

Enjoy the game tonight; it should be a good one.

Go Panthers!
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