Tonight the Penguins look to put their new defensive pairings to the test and hopefully also notch Brent Johnson his first win as a Penguin. You may remember Johnson's only start, a depressing 3-0 shutout loss on home ice to the Phoenix Coyotes. Here's to hoping things go a little smoother this time around.
If Johnson wants to get his first win he'll have to do it against the Florida Panthers, a team that isn't exactly off to a strong start. Last year Florida were last in the league in shots allowed. So far this season it doesn't look like things have changed much. The Panthers are once again ranked 30th overall in shots allowed, giving up roughly 36.6 per game. Given the rate of Pittsburgh's offense in the last game against the Blues (43 total shots to St. Louis's 23), this looks like a promising ingredient for victory.
If Pittsburgh learned anything from the aforementioned Coyotes debacle, you can't take any team lightly. You don't "play down" to any team, regardless of what announcers and pundits say. Pittsburgh has to go out there and want it just as bad as any other game.
Tomas Vokoun will likely get the start in net, especially when you consider Scott Clemmensen was yanked early in the loss to Buffalo. Vokoun isn't off to an ideal start (1-5), but there's no denying he's a solid goaltender. Look no further than his only win of the year, a 52 save performance against the Chicago Blackhawks on October 2. Amazingly enough that game also went to a shootout and the Panthers edged out a 4-3 win, otherwise his effort would've only warranted one point.
Other names you want to keep an eye on: Michael Frolik (2g, 3a) leads the team in points. Nathan Horton (2g), and Radek Dvorak (2g, 1a) are also some names you want to consider. Oh yeah, and you might as well at least keep an eye on Keith Ballard. After all, his altercation with Crosby last season didn't exactly go unnoticed.
The Panthers are currently 2-5-1 (14th in the East) after coming off a rough 5-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres Wednesday night.
Puck drops at 7:30. Open thread, as always, will hit the page a little after 7.