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Penguins vs. Panthers Game Preview

by Tony Jovenitti / Pittsburgh Penguins
Pittsburgh Penguins

Overall:
44-23-8-96
Home: 23-13-2-48
Road: 21-10-6-48

WHEN: March 27, 2011 - 1:00 pm   |   WHERE: CONSOL Energy Center
WATCH:
FSN  |  LISTEN: Pens HD Radio, 105.9 FM
Florida Panthers
Overall:
29-36-10-68
Home: 15-15-8-38
Road:
14-21-2-30

  Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Florida Panthers 
 
      
Sergei Samsonov
LW  -  #13
  13 Goals
  23 Assists
  36 Points
• Was drafted by the Boston Bruins in the first round (8th overall) of the 1997 NHL Entry Draft.

• Won two Bronze Medals for Russia in the 1996 and 1997 IIHF World Junior Championships.

• Has seven points (2G-5A) in the last six games.
 
Niclas Bergfors
RW  -  #11
  12 Goals
  24 Assists
  36 Points
• Playing for his third NHL team in the past two years, after being traded from New Jersey to Atlanta last season, and then to Florida at this year’s deadline.

• Lights the lamp against the Penguins, as he has 10 points (5G-5A) in eight career games against Pittsburgh.

• Has 12 goals and 36 points this season, including eight points in his first 13 games as a Panther.
 
Keaton Ellerby
D  -  #4
  2 goals
  10 assists
  12 points
• The 6-foot-4, 220-pound defenseman is in his second year in the NHL.

• Has two goals and 10 assists this year, after tallying no points through 22 games last season.

• Scored his first-career NHL goal on Jan. 25 against New York Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist.
As the 2011 trade deadline neared, the Florida Panthers found themselves in a familiar situation. With a 22-22-5 record at the end of January, the Panthers were not quite at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings – but also not quite in the playoff picture.

That’s been the case for Florida for much of the past decade, as the Panthers haven’t made the postseason since the 1999-00 season. So when general manager Dale Tallon – hired last May after spending the last five seasons building a Stanley Cup-winning team in Chicago – saw that the Panthers were stuck in a similar rut, he decided to try something new.

In the month of February, Tallon pulled the trigger on a whopping eight trades, revamping the entire Panthers roster. Defensemen Dennis Wideman, Bryan Allen and captain Bryan McCabe, along with forwards Cory Stillman and Radek Dvorak, all left sunny south Florida in Tallon’s fire sale.

In return, the Panthers acquired the likes of Sergei Samsonov, Niclas Bergfors and Jack Skille, along with four draft picks in an attempt to start things over. The Panthers now have 10 picks in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, with seven of those coming in the first round. The deals also freed up cap space that will allow Tallon to be plenty aggressive in this year’s offseason.

But in the meantime, the Panthers are struggling to stay away from the bottom of the standings, as they sit in 14th place in the Eastern Conference with 68 points and were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs after falling to Buffalo, 4-2, on Friday night.

That doesn’t mean the Panthers don’t pack a punch, however. While they are currently on a four-game losing streak, Florida defeated Chicago and Tampa Bay and pushed Washington to overtime in recent weeks.
  • A win or post-regulation loss by the Penguins against the Panthers will clinch the team’s fifth-consecutive postseason berth as the Penguins’ magic number is down to one.
  • Of the Penguins’ seven games remaining, three are against Atlantic Division foes (New Jersey; Philadelphia; NY Islanders) and all seven are against teams from the Eastern Conference.
  • The Penguins are 10-8-3 this season against the Atlantic Division and 33-19-5 against the East. This season the Penguins are 11-5 against the Southeast Division with a 7-2 home record.
  • This is the third of four meetings between the Penguins and the Panthers, with their last battle coming on Dec. 22 at CONSOL Energy Center. Pittsburgh skated to a 5-2 victory in that game, thanks to goals from five different players. Defenseman Ben Lovejoy notched his first-career NHL goal, while Sidney Crosby, Mark Letestu, Matt Cooke and Pascal Dupuis also tallied for the Penguins.
  • The Penguins have won five straight games over the Panthers in Pittsburgh and have posted a 10-4 overall mark against Florida since the beginning of the 2007-08 season. Since the beginning of last season the Penguins own a 5-1 advantage over Florida.
  • Pittsburgh played its 21st overtime game of the season versus New Jersey at CONSOL Energy Center on Friday. James Neal scored the game-deciding shootout goal to secure the extra point for the Penguins. This season, the Penguins own a 13-8 overtime record. They’ve required 60-plus minutes of work in 10 of their past 17 games. They have gone 6-4 in those 10 games. Overall, Pittsburgh is 8-3 this year in shootouts and 5-5 in overtime.

 

      
Early Momentum: The Panthers are on a four-game losing streak, and two of those losses were shutouts. If the Penguins can get some energy going early in the first period and get shots on net, they can rattle Florida’s already shaky confidence. And getting the opening goal would also be crucial toward a victory.

Don’t Rely On Fleury Too Much: Marc-Andre Fleury has been playing some of his best hockey, but the offense needs to take some of the load off of Fleury’s back – especially since backup Brent Johnson is currently sidelined with an upper-body injury that saw Fleury start back-to-back games on Thursday and Friday. On Friday, Fleury didn’t allow New Jersey to tally a single goal, but the problem was that the Penguins couldn’t crack Devils’ goalie Martin Brodeur either. The offense needs to relieve some of the pressure on the Penguins netminder in order to keep earning points.

F Sidney Crosby, concussion (IR)

F Dustin Jeffrey, lower body (day-to-day)
G Brent Johnson, upper body (day-to-day)
F Nick Johnson, concussion (IR)

F Mark Letestu, upper body (day-to-day)
F Evgeni Malkin torn ACL and torn MCL (will miss remainder of season)


D Brooks Orpik, broken finger (day-to-day)
F Eric Tangradi, concussion (day-to-day)
RW Jack Skille, ankle (day-to-day)
C Shawn Matthias, ankle (day-to-day)
C Scott Timmins, concussion (day-to-day)
RW Rostislav Olesz, knee (out for the season)
RW Byron Bitz, sports hernia (out for the season)
 
 
 
 
G
Crosby (32) Weiss/Booth (21)
A
Letang (40) Weiss (28)
PTS
Crosby (66) Weiss (49)
PIM
Cooke (129) Hordichuk (71)
+/-
Crosby (20) Reasoner (+5)
PP
Crosby (10) Booth (6)
SH
Dupuis/Cooke (3)
Weiss (2)
W/L
Fleury (33-18-5)
Clemmensen (8-7-5)
GAA
Johnson (2.19) Clemmensen (2.46)
SVP
Johnson (.920) Vokoun (.920)

Marc-Andre Fleury - Pittsburgh’s goaltender is coming off a 21-save shutout performance in a 1-0 shootout win over New Jersey on Friday. Fleury has allowed one goal or less in four of the last six games. His past two starts have both gone to shootouts, and he’s only allowed one shootout goal against seven shooters.
 
Evgeny Dadonov - Florida’s rookie right winger has tallied three goals in the past four games, including a two-goal performance against the New York Islanders. In fact, his two goals in that game came off of just two shots. He’s currently riding a shot percentage of 50 percent over the past four games.
 
 
 
 

Fan Guide vs. Florida
Penguins Report: 3/26/11 
Penguins to Hold Annual Awards Ceremony Before Sunday's Game vs. Florida 
Defensive Excellence is Total Team Effort
Aftermath: Penguins 1, Devils 0 SO 
Pittsburgh is Special to Hall of Famer Emrick 
Penguins Recall Goaltender Brad Thiessen


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WHEN: March 27, 2011 - 1:00 pm
WHERE: CONSOL Energy Center
WATCH: FSN
LISTEN: Pens HD Radio, 105.9 FM



SCOUTING REPORT

As the 2011 trade deadline neared, the Florida Panthers found themselves in a familiar situation. With a 22-22-5 record at the end of January, the Panthers were not quite at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings – but also not quite in the playoff picture.

That’s been the case for Florida for much of the past decade, as the Panthers haven’t made the postseason since the 1999-00 season. So when general manager Dale Tallon – hired last May after spending the last five seasons building a Stanley Cup-winning team in Chicago – saw that the Panthers were stuck in a similar rut, he decided to try something new.

In the month of February, Tallon pulled the trigger on a whopping eight trades, revamping the entire Panthers roster. Defensemen Dennis Wideman, Bryan Allen and captain Bryan McCabe, along with forwards Cory Stillman and Radek Dvorak, all left sunny south Florida in Tallon’s fire sale.

In return, the Panthers acquired the likes of Sergei Samsonov, Niclas Bergfors and Jack Skille, along with four draft picks in an attempt to start things over. The Panthers now have 10 picks in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, with seven of those coming in the first round. The deals also freed up cap space that will allow Tallon to be plenty aggressive in this year’s offseason.

But in the meantime, the Panthers are struggling to stay away from the bottom of the standings, as they sit in 14th place in the Eastern Conference with 68 points and were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs after falling to Buffalo, 4-2, on Friday night.

That doesn’t mean the Panthers don’t pack a punch, however. While they are currently on a four-game losing streak, Florida defeated Chicago and Tampa Bay and pushed Washington to overtime in recent weeks.


INTERESTING STATS

* A win or post-regulation loss by the Penguins against the Panthers will clinch the team’s fifth-consecutive postseason berth as the Penguins’ magic number is down to one.

* Of the Penguins’ seven games remaining, three are against Atlantic Division foes (New Jersey; Philadelphia; NY Islanders) and all seven are against teams from the Eastern Conference.

* The Penguins are 10-8-3 this season against the Atlantic Division and 33-19-5 against the East. This season the Penguins are 11-5 against the Southeast Division with a 7-2 home record.

* This is the third of four meetings between the Penguins and the Panthers, with their last battle coming on Dec. 22 at CONSOL Energy Center. Pittsburgh skated to a 5-2 victory in that game, thanks to goals from five different players. Defenseman Ben Lovejoy notched his first-career NHL goal, while Sidney Crosby, Mark Letestu, Matt Cooke and Pascal Dupuis also tallied for the Penguins.

* The Penguins have won five straight games over the Panthers in Pittsburgh and have posted a 10-4 overall mark against Florida since the beginning of the 2007-08 season. Since the beginning of last season the Penguins own a 5-1 advantage over Florida.

* Pittsburgh played its 21st overtime game of the season versus New Jersey at CONSOL Energy Center on Friday. James Neal scored the game-deciding shootout goal to secure the extra point for the Penguins. This season, the Penguins own a 13-8 overtime record. They’ve required 60-plus minutes of work in 10 of their past 17 games. They have gone 6-4 in those 10 games. Overall, Pittsburgh is 8-3 this year in shootouts and 5-5 in overtime.


KEYS TO THE GAME

Early Momentum: The Panthers are on a four-game losing streak, and two of those losses were shutouts. If the Penguins can get some energy going early in the first period and get shots on net, they can rattle Florida’s already shaky confidence. And getting the opening goal would also be crucial toward a victory.

Don’t Rely On Fleury Too Much: Marc-Andre Fleury has been playing some of his best hockey, but the offense needs to take some of the load off of Fleury’s back – especially since backup Brent Johnson is currently sidelined with an upper-body injury that saw Fleury start back-to-back games on Thursday and Friday. On Friday, Fleury didn’t allow New Jersey to tally a single goal, but the problem was that the Penguins couldn’t crack Devils’ goalie Martin Brodeur either. The offense needs to relieve some of the pressure on the Penguins netminder in order to keep earning points.


WHO'S HOT

Marc-Andre Fleury - Pittsburgh’s goaltender is coming off a 21-save shutout performance in a 1-0 shootout win over New Jersey on Friday. Fleury has allowed one goal or less in four of the last six games. His past two starts have both gone to shootouts, and he’s only allowed one shootout goal against seven shooters.

Evgeny Dadonov - Florida’s rookie right winger has tallied three goals in the past four games, including a two-goal performance against the New York Islanders. In fact, his two goals in that game came off of just two shots. He’s currently riding a shot percentage of 50 percent over the past four games.


Author: Tony Jovenitti
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