THE LOWDOWN is a gameday preview produced by “Hockey Pat” McGrath, a lifelong Cats fan who previously wrote for the Florida Panthers themed blog “TheRatTrick”. The contents of THE LOWDOWN and all opinions expressed therein are solely those of Hockey Pat and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Florida Panthers or Sunrise Sports & Entertainment LLC. Having said that, if you find yourself laughing or smiling as you read the LOWDOWN, feel free to thank us. We accept thank you notes, tweets and ticket purchases.
Florida Panthers vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
|Place||7th in Atlantic||4th in Metropolitan|
In the final game of the 2013-14 season, the Florida Panthers will take on the Columbus Blue Jackets at BB&T Center. The Cats are looking to close out their season on a positive note while the Blue Jackets are coming off a loss to the Lighting Friday night and are still jostling for the best possible matchup in the Eastern Conference playoff.
Here is the lowdown:
RED Hot Cats to Watch
Nick Bjugstad: Bjugstad had the best game of his young NHL career on Thursday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs compiling his first NHL three-point game, his first NHL two-goal game and his first NHL shorthanded goal. The three points gave him 38 on the year, giving him a one point cushion over Scottie Upshall in the team scoring race.
I’m going to be honest, I looked at this for about a minute before the joke clicked… just one of those days…
Brandon Pirri: The Toronto native continues to pack the score sheet since his arrival from the Chicago Blackhawks in March. With his goal on Thursday, Pirri now has six points (4-2-6) in his last six games and 13 points (7-6-13) in his 20 games with the Cats.
The Blue Jackets have already clinched their franchise’s second ever playoff berth but there is still some seeding stuff to be determined before the season comes to an end. If the season ended today, the Blue Jackets would face the Pittsburgh Penguins (a team they have lost to five times this season) in the first round. With 91 points, the Blue Jackets are currently tied with the Red Wings, who occupy the second wild card spot, and the Flyers who hold the third Metropolitan Division playoff spot. If the Wings pass Columbus, then the Blue Jackets would face top-seeded Boston in the first round while if Columbus passes Philly then they will take on the Rangers in round one.
Not that this matters to most Ohioans, who are just happy to be in the playoffs regardless of who the team faces.
Funny thing happened today, walked through Columbus International airport and everyone was wearing Bluejackets gear...— Alexander Prange (@Alex_Prange) April 11, 2014
The Blue Jackets Stanley Cup dreams took a shot on Friday when the club announced that former Panthers forward Nathan Horton would be out for about six weeks after undergoing surgery to repair an abdominal injury.
This won’t be the first time Columbus is forced to play without Horton as the off-season free-agent acquisition missed the first 40 games of the season while recovering from shoulder surgery. Columbus is a much better team with Horton in the lineup and it is no surprise that the Jackets best stretch of the season (an eight game winning streak in January) started just days after he returned to the lineup.
Blue Jackets Players to Watch
#19 Ryan Johansen: Johansen is in the midst of a breakout season as the 21-year-old leads the playoff bound Blue Jackets with 61 points (32-29-60) in 80 games.
#7 Jack Johnson: Johnson has been a steadying presence in the Blue Jackets lineup, playing in every game while leading Columbus in ice time at 24:38 TOI per game. His 32 points (5-27-32) are second among Columbus blueliners, behind only James Wisniewski’s 50 (7-43-50).
Just so we are clear, this is Jack Johnson the hockey player, not Jack Johnson the musician/surf film director….
Pre-game Tweet of the Game
@FlaPanthers last game day of the year. Going to have a big void. :(— Andrew Levine (@AndrewLevine5) April 12, 2014
Pick a Panther
(Selecting a Panthers player to score in tonight’s game)
Current streak: 0
A fun way to add some excitement to your Panthers viewing experience is by picking one of the Panthers’ goal scorers for every game. I will be picking players for the remainder of the season and if you want to play along, tweet your picks to @FlaPanthers, #PickaPanther. If you pick right, you might get a retweet (commitment is not really my thing)…
Pat’s Pick: Sean Bergenheim
I picked Bergy on Thursday but he gets the back-to-back honors due to his strong game against the Leafs where he picked up two assists and came tantalizingly close to scoring the goal that would finally get me off the schneid.
After so many close calls, I’m betting there is one on the way tonight.
It’s the Last Game of the Season
But before we get to that, let’s take a look at some of the best moments from the year!
Ahhh! The memories!
Enjoy the Game!
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