The Florida Panthers completed the Trains, Planes and Automobiles portion of the 2021-22 NHL season on Friday by riding the rails from Montreal to Ottawa for tonight’s game against the Senators.
The Panthers held practice Friday morning at the Bell Center in downtown Montreal before loading up on a train bound for nearby Ottawa.
It was less stressful than heading to the airport and boarding a plane — and more scenic as well.
“This is a first for me in the NHL, that’s for sure,” Sam Reinhart said.
The Panthers are not expecting a stress-free environment on Saturday night as the Senators have given them fits in the first two meetings this season.
In December, the Senators came to Sunrise and left the Panthers wondering what happened following an 8-2 loss.
Earlier this month, the Panthers exacted a little revenge with a 3-0 victory although Ottawa brought a strong game as scrums broke out throughout the third period.
Ryan Lomberg, back in the lineup after being on IR following that game, could see a lot of action Saturday night.
“They are a young, hungry team out to prove themselves,” coach Andrew Brunette said. “No better team to prove yourself than against us. It’ll be a challenge. They’re going to play hard. You look at teams that, record-wise aren’t there, but these are their playoffs. They’re trying to prove themselves and this will be no different.’’
The Panthers have had a playoff berth sown up since November but want to stay atop the Atlantic Division and get home ice throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs by beating out the Carolina Hurricanes.
At first glance, Florida’s remaining schedule is not all that hard.
Sure, the Panthers have three games left against Toronto — including the first meeting between the two on Sunday night — as well as a game remaining against Tampa Bay and Boston.
But teams like Ottawa are going to give the Panthers all they can handle. If Florida does not come correct and ready to play, it could be in for a long night.
“This is a big trip for us,” said Anthony Duclair, who will be playing in his first game in Ottawa since the Senators allowed him to become a free agent in 2020.
“We are playing three very good teams and coming into three pretty tough buildings. You don’t look at the lineup because, at this time of year, any team can beat anyone. We saw that (Thursday) night. They played a really hard game and gave us a lot of trouble, for sure.”
— Sergei Bobrovsky, who has not played in the past five games, will get the start tonight in Ottawa.
Spencer Knight started the road-trip by starting in Los Angeles; In that game, Bobrovsky was struck by an errant puck while sitting at the end of the Florida bench.
Bobrovsky not only needed over a dozen stitches to close the wound, but also battled some sort of illness which led to the Panthers continuing to go with Knight.
He started the first five games of this road sojourn, going 3-1-1.
With the Panthers playing in Toronto on Sunday night, expect Knight to get the call.
UP NEXT FOR THE FLORIDA PANTHERS
FLORIDA PANTHERS AT OTTAWA SENATORS
- When: Saturday, 7 p.m.
- Where: Canadian Tire Center, Ottawa
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida
- Radio: WQAM 560-AM/SiriusXM
- Draft Kings odds — Florida favored: Money Line (-295); Puck line (-1.5, -110); Over/Under 6.5 (+110/-120)
- Last season: Did not play
- All-time regular season series: Ottawa leads 56-41-4, ties
- This season — Tied 1-1: Ottawa 8, @Florida 2 (Dec. 14); @Florida 3, Ottawa 0 (March 3)
PROJECTED FLORIDA PANTHERS LINEUP
23 Carter Verhaeghe // 16 Sasha Barkov // 28 Claude Giroux
11 Jonathan Huberdeau // 9 Sam Bennett // 10 Anthony Duclair
17 Mason Marchment // 27 Eetu Luostarinen // 13 Sam Reinhart
94 Ryan Lomberg // 55 Noel Acciari // 70 Patric Hornqvist
8 Ben Chiarot // 52 MacKenzie Weegar
42 Gus Forsling // 7 Radko Gudas
18 Robert Hagg // 62 Brandon Montour
72 Sergei Bobrovsky
30 Spencer Knight
Scratched: Maxim Mamin, Petteri Lindbohm, Joe Thornton, Lucas Carlsson
Injured: Markus Nutivaara (LTIR), Jonas Johansson (IR), Anton Lundell (ill), Aaron Ekblad (LTIR)
PROJECTED OTTAWA SENATORS LINEUP
7 Brady Tkachuk // 9 Josh Norris // 36 Colin White
10 Alex Formenton // 18 Tim Stutzle // 28 Connor Brown
21 Mathieu Joseph // 71 Chris Tierney // 17 Adam Gaudette
63 Tyler Ennis // 27 Dylan Gambrell // 16 Austin Watson
26 Emil Brannstrom // 2 Artem Zub
5 Nick Holden // 22 Nikita Zaitsev
98 Victor Mete // 23 Travis Hamonic
31 Anton Forsberg
32 Filip Gustavsson
Ottawa Senators lines courtesy DailyFaceoff.com