Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Florida Panthers [Open Thread/Preview]

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PITTSBURGH PENGUINS (19-15-4) vs FLORIDA PANTHERS (16-16-5)

     MELLON ARENA IN PITTSBURGH @ 1:05 PM

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PANTHERS BLOG: LITTERBOX CATS

NOTES

Get your SPG picks in before the puck drops for a chance to win a Penguins wall clock, courtesy of Carrolls Cove.com.

As typical with these 1:00 shindigs, this is your combination of a preview and an open thread.

The Florida Panthers are playing .500 hockey right now.  Some would argue the Penguins are as well, so perhaps this game will pose as one of the bigger tests for both clubs.

The Panthers are getting by thanks to the goaltending of Thomas Vokoun and Craig Anderson.  While Anderson's starts have been spotty as of late, he really stepped up for the Panthers when Vokoun was going throug a rough patch. 

Stephen Weiss and David Booth lead the team in points, but it's not like they're tearing up the record books.  Evidence to Florida's goaltending should be apparent when you glance at the top scorers.  Weiss edges out the lead just barely with 6G, 15A for 21pts, while Booth sits comfortably behind as the team's top goal scorer with 15G, 5A for 20 pts. 

This is the Panthers' first game of 2009, but they closed out the month of December with three straight losses (sound familiar?). 

Craig Anderson is expected to get the nod today for the Panthers, while Marc-Andre Fleury should return to the cage for the Pens.  Anderson, for all he's accomplished as a backup this season (8-4-4) is 1-2-1 in his last four stars.  He came in as relief for Vokoun and gave up one goal on 14 shots on December 31 in the team's 4-2 loss to the Islanders.

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