Andrew Brunette said he would decide how the Florida Panthers would approach their final game of the regular season after seeing how the chips landed on Thursday night.
With Florida having nothing to gain on Friday night after having already locked down the NHL Presidents’ Trophy and earning home ice advantage throughout the playoffs, there may be one new face in the lineup in Montreal.
Goalie Jonas Johansson may be in net for the Panthers’ final game before the playoffs start — a move to reward the team’s No. 3 goalie for his hard work throughout the year as well as give Sergei Bobrovsky and Spencer Knight an evening off.
UPDATE: Johansson will get his second start of his Florid a tenure tonight, Andrew Brunette announced.
Johansson was claimed off waivers by the Panthers in December after Colorado hoped to slide him to its AHL team.
Since then, he has only played in one game.
Johansson certainly would like to have that one back.
In his one game of action with the Panthers, Johansson gave up five goals on 27 shots in a fairly-shocking 6-3 home loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Feb. 24.
Johansson eventually went to AHL Charlotte on a “conditioning stint” where he reportedly sustained a knee injury during his first game with the Checkers and had to come out.
He was put on Injured Reserve, which allowed Florida to clear up a roster spot before the trade deadline.
Johansson has been back practicing with the Panthers for the past two weeks. When he returned, Brunette said it was good to see him back with his teammates.
The Panthers are a close knit group and certainly would like to see Johansson rewarded for his constant practice time this season.
Brunette knows this.
“It has been a long, hard year for him just playing in one game with us and practicing,’’ Brunette said earlier this month.
“He has been a great sport, very professional. He has come to work every day preparing himself to play and has had a really wonderful attitude for our group.”
We shall see.
Florida mixed up its lineup for Thursday’s game in Ottawa — one it won 4-0 — and it is expected that a number of key players will not play again tonight.
But who plays and who does not?
Florida would likely try and give veteran forwards Joe Thornton and Patric Hornqvist a night off before the games start counting for real and that would mean at least one of the forwards who did not play Thursday (Sasha Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau and Claude Giroux) would have to come back.
UPDATE: Sam Bennett and Sam Reinhart are out, Anton Lundell and Forsling return.
— Montreal coach Martin St. Louis has confirmed that future Hall of Famer Carey Price will start this final game of the season.
PANTHERS ON DECK
FLORIDA PANTHERS AT MONTREAL CANADIENS
- When: Friday, 7 p.m.
- Where: Bell Center, Montreal
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida
- Radio: WQAM 560, SiriusXM
- Draft Kings odds — Florida favored: Money Line (-290); Puck line (-1.5, -110); Over/Under 6.5 (-105/-115)
- Last season: Did not play
- All-time regular season series: Florida leads 51-48, 6 ties
- Season series — Florida leads 3-0: @Florida 5, Montreal 2 (Jan. 1); Florida 4, @Montreal 3 (March 24); @Florida 7, Montreal 4 (March 29)
END OF THE REGULAR SEASON
PROJECTED FLORIDA PANTHERS LINEUP
10 Anthony Duclair // 15 Anton Lundell // 98 Maxim Mamin
23 Carter Verhaeghe // 27 Eetu Luostarinen // 20 Aleksi Heponiemi
94 Ryan Lomberg // 55 Noel Acciari // 79 Cole Schwindt
19 Joe Thornton // 70 Patric Hornqvist
8 Ben Chiarot // 62 Brandon Montour
42 Gus Forsling // 18 Robert Hagg
32 Lucas Carlsson // 40 Petteri Lindbohm
3 Matt Kiersted
G 35 Jonas Johansson
G 30 Spencer Knight
Scratched: Sasha Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Claude Giroux, MacKenzie Weegar, Gus Forsling, Sergei Bobrovsky, Sam Reinhart, Sam Bennett
Injured: Markus Nutivaara (LTIR), Aaron Ekblad (LTIR), Radko Gudas (LBI)
PROJECTED MONTREAL CANADIENS LINEUP
22 Cole Caufield // 14 Nick Suzuki // 68 Mike Hoffman
32 Rem Pitlick // 71 Jake Evans // 11 Brendan Gallagher
55 Michael Pezzetta // 28 Christian Dvorak // 17 Josh Anderson
85 Mathieu Perreault // 45 Laurent Dauphin // 24 Tyler Pitlick
44 Joel Edmundson // 26 Jeff Petry
27 Alexander Romanov // 58 David Savard
84 William Lagesson // 54 Jordan Harris
31 Carey Price
35 Sam Montembeault
Montreal Canadiens lines courtesy DailyFaceoff.com