Kings-Panthers Preview: Hi, Marco
Since we last met the Florida Panthers...
IN: Though some of us wanted the Kings to add Bleedles McClotterton (A.K.A. Tomas Fleischmann) on July 1st, the Panthers signed him instead, along with Sean Bergenheim, Scottie Upshall, Jose Theodore, Ed Jovanovski, Marcel Goc, Tomas Kopecky, Matt Bradley, and approximately 3,156 other players in free agency. Then GM Dale Tallon took over the contract he gave to Brian Campbell in the first place. Marco Sturm (hello!) and Mikael Samuelsson were acquired from the Canucks in the Booth trade. He also booted Peter DeBoer, and welcomed new coach Kevin Dineen.
OUT: Bryan McCabe, Michael Frolik, Cory Stillman, Radek Dvorak, Dennis Wideman, Bryan Allen, Niclas Bergfors, Marty Reasoner, Darcy Hordichuk, Tomas Vokoun, Rostislav Olesz, David Booth.
So to sum up: Extreme Free-Spending Makeover! And they're currently atop of the Southeast.
INJURED: Unfortunately for the Panthers, their top scorer Kris Versteeg is out of the lineup tonight after receiving a nasty elbow from Joslin in the prior game; and Samuelsson, while close to returning, does not appear 100% ready either. Other injuries: Bradley and Upshall (upper body), Goc (concussion), Dmitry Kulikov (leg). Scott Clemmensen (groin) is also questionable for tonight.
In Net: Jose Theodore, who has done an admirable job replacing Vokoun this far (2.29 GAA, .924 SV%).
Kings lineup: Still Frankenstein-ian, but for how long? 'Top line RW Trent Hunter' is not something I ever thought I'd type. It's also not something I ever thought I'd type twice.
This Panthers team currently has better offense than the Kings (not that that's difficult) and good defense (allowing only 2.38 goals against/game, 8th in the league). Even with Dadonov subbing in for Versteeg, their top line remains dangerous. Let's hope the Kings' bizarro lines hang tough.