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Morning Skate: Panthers @ Red Wings

NHL: Detroit Red Wings at Florida Panthers Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Time: 7:00 Eastern
Place: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, MI
TV: ESPN+, HULU
Radio: 97.1 FM The Ticket // 1270 AM
Panthers Blog: Litter Box Cats

Preview

Well, no controversy heading into this one, right?...

With Joel Quenneville resigning late last night, the Panthers have detangled themselves from the current sex-abuse scandal surrounding the Blackhawks. This casts a shadow over not just Chicago, but the whole league. Personally, I think allowing Quenneville to resign was a poor choice by the league. Our community has had lots of space to discuss the topic and I am not going to discourage the continuation, but I also want to make sure that we also have space to discuss what brings us all together and creates community in the first place: the game itself.

So let’s focus for a moment on what the narrative should’ve been about tonight: in one corner we’ve got a surprisingly plucky challenger, the fast, young, and tenacious Red Wings. In the other corner we don’t have the evil empire. No, we have the surprisingly dominant middle-weight, long awaiting its opportunity to move from the good tier to greatness, and it seems maybe that moment is now. That team, of course, is the undefeated Florida Panthers.

These Cats are pretty good this year. They have yet to lose a game, and in most cases have buried their opponents in goals while letting few into their own net. One of the refrains that was fresh a few years ago, but then got tired, was just how underestimated Aleksander Barkov is. The league now knows exactly how good this guy is, which is to say: very. A similar narrative has followed Aaron Ekblad, although the freshest memory of him for most Wings fans might be his fight with Givani Smith last season. The two are among the Panthers top scorers, but it is actually Jonathan Huberdeau leading the way with three goals and six assists. And this just scratches the surface of how many dangerous players the Panthers have got; Detroit will need to keep its head on a swivel at all times against this club.

The Wings are once again the underdog, but if the they can bring the same focus and (dare I say it?) grit against Florida tonight as they did in DC on Wednesday, then they’ve got a pretty decent chance. The Wings will likely need scoring up and down the line up and maybe even a heroic goal from an unlikely source to get past this one. But hell, what do I know? With the controversy surrounding tonight’s game, the Panthers are going to be playing with a lot of emotions one way or another, so who knows what will happen. Maybe you can make a great guess down below.