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Morning Skate: Made with bits of real Panther

Last night's 6-2 dismantling of the Lightning was a big win against a very good opponent. But that win will be sullied if it isn't followed by a win tonight against a mediocre Florida Panthers team. The Panthers are 24-25-7 on the season and sit 7 points behind the Carolina Hurricanes for the last playoff spot. With two or three games in hand on everyone ahead of them in the playoff race (with the exception of Buffalo) the Panthers definitely can still make the playoffs and will be working hard to get the full two points tonight.

In their last outing, the Panthers fell short on a comeback effort to the Flyers. After being down 3-0 at the end of the second period, the Panthers scored two goals to make it interesting and had a few chances that just missed tying the game. The Flyers eventually got an empty net goal and left with the full two points but it was an impressive effort from the Panthers when they dialed up the pressure late in the game.

The Red Wings need to follow up last night's big win with style tonight and need to play their own game instead of letting the Panthers dictate the pace. Keep Vokoun (who I'm assuming will start) on his toes and fire a lot of pucks at him and hunt for second chance opportunities.

Litter Box Cats is the SB Nation Florida Panthers site.

Get your pledges in before the game.

  • Joey MacDonald will be your starter in net tonight in Sunrise, so sayeth Ansar Khan of .  MacDonald actually has the lowest GAA on the team (although in fewer chances) and has been pretty solid as a call-up in the place of the injured Chris Osgood.
  • Speaking of Chris Osgood, last night on the FS-D broadcast he mentioned that he'd like to become a coach in the future. Thoughts?
  • Happy Birthday to Tyler of The Triple Deke! 
  • Today is Wear Your Favorite Hockey Jersey Day, says USA Hockey. I've got on #16 Konstantinov red jersey. What will you wear?
  • A point tonight and the Red Wings will tie the total that the Panthers had for the entire 2009-2010 season. 
  • In all likelihood, there won't be many power plays tonight as the two teams are top teams as far as fewest PIMs per game. Florida registers only 8.4 mins in the box each night while Detroit has 8.7 per.
  • Because Florida takes so few penalties, they have one of the top PK units in the League, sporting a 85.6% kill success rate. Tomas Vokoun has allowed only 15 goals on 212 power play chances, conceding a goal only about 7.07% of the time his team is a man down. The only starting goalie with fewer goals against on the PP is Pekka Rinne (6.97%).
  • The aforementioned Vokoun is one of the top goalies in the league and the team is built from the net out it seems. The former Nashville Predator faces a lot of shots per game (about 32 is the team's SA average. Vokoun has only given up more than four goals once this season, but he's also had 7 where he does give up exactly four. Of late (last 10 games), his average goals allowed is about 2.5. He'll be tough to crack but I think if the Wings are passing like they did last night it's definitely possible. 
  • You know who's an unrestricted free agent after this season? Tomas Vokoun. No chance the Wings go after him though as he made $5.7 million this season and will likely rake in about $6.25-7 million next season on the open market.
  • Stephen Weiss (one of the more underappreciated players in the league...probably because not much attention is paid to the Panthers) leads the team in points with 37.David Booth leads the team in goals with 16.
  • How good has this Jiri Hudler-Pavel Datsyuk-Dan Cleary line been? I like what they're bringing to the table and at first glance that seems like a weird combination of players based on their style of play but it's working like a charm.
  • I overlooked this last night because it just felt like a home game and it didn't register with me. If that guy gets fired, I wonder if the Wings will hire him as an understudy to Sobotka.
  • I think it's safe to say that the MVP of the team at this point is Maria. The Wings have outscored their opponents 16-5 and are 3-0 since she started contributing. Well done.
  • Score Prediction: 7-2 Detroit. I never get these right so why not?
  • Player of the Game Prediction: Pavel Datsyuk. The magician is playing like a man that is angry he lost so much of his season to lazy ass Mikael Samuelsson. YOU WON'T LIKE HIM WHEN HE'S ANGRY!
  • For discussion: Which approach would you take as a GM--build your team with a mediocre defense that doesn't cost a lot and spot it with an expensive goaltender like Vokoun OR a cheaper goalie with a very solid, yet expensive defense like in Detroit?