‘Prove It Week’ for the Florida Panthers continues on Wednesday when they take on the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena.
Florida’s evening date with the Hurricanes comes fresh off a three-game set with the Central Division leading Lightning.
The Panthers passed that test with wins in two of the three games, including their first win in Tampa in almost five full years, but the Canes bring another challenge.
”We know you have to be at your best to beat Tampa,” Joel Quenneville said. “At the end of the day, when you’re facing three Tampas and a Carolina in a short amount of time, you look at it and say ‘is (going) .500 the measuring stick or not?’
“If you want to be better, well, we have to set ourselves higher than that.”
Carolina, like Florida, has had its scheduled altered because of Covid-19 related issues. Two games originally scheduled for Raleigh in January were postponed due to a breakout among the Hurricanes.
This is one of the makeups.
Carolina has been playing terrific hockey of late, winning three of the past four including a 7-3 win over visiting Columbus on Monday night.
“Obviously there are a couple of teams in this division who are extremely nerve-wracking to play against,” Aaron Ekblad said.
“It’s a welcome challenge. To be a playoff team, we know we need to win these games. We’re off to a hot start as well and we want to continue that, carry this momentum and confidence we have had the past 13 games here.
”This Carolina team is fast as hell. They skate well, they smother you all over the ice. We know that. We are prepared for it, we just have to be ready to move the puck quickly.’’
Quenneville said Tuesday that Chris Driedger and not Sergei Bobrovsky would start on Wednesday.
Earlier this season he said he was splitting up starts based on the schedule but later on, it would be based off of performance.
That may be where we are at right now.
While Driedger did surrender three goals to the Lightning in the third period and four overall on Monday, he shut Tampa Bay down in a hotly-contested third period in which the Lightning took 11 shots on goal and made 24 attempted shots.
Driedger also played well against Carolina last season, getting the Panthers their only win against the Hurricanes.
In that Dec. 21 game in Raleigh, Driedger made 42 saves in a 4-2 win.
When it comes to other lineup moves, it would be expected to see Noah Juulsen draw out after playing a mere 5:51 on Monday after he replaced Markus Nutivaara.
Juulsen saw just :49 seconds on one shift in the third period.
So, either Nutivaara gets back in or the Panthers could activate Gustav Forsling off IR and put him in the lineup against the team that waived him during training camp.
UPDATE: Quenneville confirmed Wednesday afternoon that Forsling would be activated and play against the Hurricanes.
”I thought he defended very well,’’ Quenneville said.
Carolina is expected to start former Florida goalie James Reimer, who was traded to the Hurricanes in a money-swap for Scott Darling on the eve of free agency in 2019.
Reimer, who is in the final season of the five-year deal he originally signed with the Panthers in 2016, made one start against Florida last season, making 47 saves in a 6-3 win in Sunrise on Oct. 8.
Florida Panthers at Carolina Hurricanes
- When: Wednesday, 5 p.m.
- Where: PNC Arena; Raleigh, N.C.
- TV/Radio: FSF/560-AM
- Records: Florida 9-2-2 (T-2nd in Central); Carolina 10-3-0 (T-2nd)
- All-time series: Carolina leads 63-44-6, 11 ties
- Season series: First of eight meetings
- Last season: Carolina won two of three
- Up next: Florida at Detroit, Friday, 7; Chicago at Carolina, Friday, 7
- Panthers This Week: Panthers 6, Tampa Bay 4 (Monday); Wednesday at Carolina, 5; Friday at Detroit, 7; Saturday at Detroit, 5
PROJECTED FLORIDA PANTHERS LINES
23 Carter Verhaeghe — 16 Sasha Barkov — 91 Anthony Duclair
11 Jonathan Huberdeau — 21 Alex Wennberg — 70 Patric Hornqvist
77 Frank Vatrano —27 Eetu Luostarinen — 74 Owen Tippett
94 Ryan Lomberg — 83 Juho Lammikko — 10 Brett Connolly
52 MacKenzie Weegar — 5 Aaron Ekblad
42 Gustav Forsling — 6 Anton Stralman
3 Keith Yandle — 7 Radko Gudas
72 Sergei Bobrovsky
60 Chris Driedger
Scratches: D Noah Juulsen, F Vinnie Hinostroza, D Markus Nutivaara
Taxi squad: D Kevin Connauton, F Scott Wilson, F Mason Marchment, G Philippe Desrosiers
Injured: F Noel Acciari (upper body)
Florida power play (11/37 29.7% — 6th in NHL)
Florida penalty kill (30/39 76.9% — 22nd in NHL)
PP1: Sasha Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Patric Hornqvist, Aaron Ekblad, Keith Yandle
PP2: Alex Wennberg, Frank Vatrano, Anthony Duclair, Carter Verhaeghe, Anton Stralman
PROJECTED CAROLINA HURRICANES
23 Brock McGinn — 20 Sebastian Aho — 86 Teuvo Teravainen
21 Nino Niederreiter — 16 Vincent Trocheck — 88 Martin Necas
13 Warren Foegele — 11 Jordan Staal — 37 Andrei Svechnikov
48 Jordan Martinhook — 18 Cedric Paquette — 71 Jesper Fast
74 Jaccob Slavin — 19 Dougie Hamilton
51 Jake Gardiner — 22 Brett Pesce
76 Brady Skjei — 24 Jake Bean
47 James Reimer
39 Alex Nedeljkovic
Carolina power play (12/43 27.9% — 7th in NHL)
Carolina penalty kill (38/47 80.8% — 12th in NHL)
PP1: Jordan Staal, Sebastian Aho, Vincent Trocheck, Dougie Hamilton, Andrei Svechnikov
PP2: Jesper Fast, Teuvo Teravainen, Nino Niederreiter, Jake Gardiner, Martin Necas