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One Of Those Crucial Four Point Games

Thursday, 03.5.2009 / 12:31 PM ET / Preview
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One Of Those Crucial Four Point Games
The Panthers and Penguins play for the second time this season. Florida earned a 6-1 victory in Pittsburgh on January 3rd. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
By Dave Joseph for floridapanthers.com

SUNRISE – With the trade deadline past and the “best defenseman in the league” still in a Panther uniform, coach Peter DeBoer had his players back on the ice Thursday morning in preparation for tonight’s game at BankAtlantic Center against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“A four-point game,” is how DeBoer described tonight’s game with the Panthers sitting sixth in the Eastern Conference, two points ahead of the Penguins, who have won four consecutive games and six of their last seven.

“You see the standings, see where both teams are sitting,” DeBoer said. “The Penguins have won four in a row. These are all critical games down the stretch, especially when you’re playing a team you’re fighting for a playoff position with.”

The Panthers came out of Wednesday’s trade deadline not only with All-Star defenseman Jay Bouwmeester part of the team, but also with defenseman Steve Eminger, who was acquired from Tampa for Noah Welch and a 2009 draft pick.

Bouwmeester, an unrestricted free agent this summer, said he was happy to remain a Panther and was looking forward to the remainder of the season. DeBoer was equally as pleased.

“For me, he’s the best defenseman in the league,” said DeBoer of Bouwmeester. “He plays 30 minutes a night, he plays in all situations for us. It would have been an unfillable hole for us down the stretch (if he was traded). Whatever we got back in return we could have made the best of it, (but) it would have effected our team chemistry. It would have had an effect in a lot of different areas. Who knows whether we could have got through it or not.”

DeBoer also said the addition of Eminger gives the Panthers the “deepest seven defensemen in the league, which is a nice luxury to have.”

Eminger, who has averaged 22:27 of ice time this season and racked up 21 assists while playing in Philadelphia (12 games) and Tampa (50 games), will play tonight. Nick Boynton, who is back with the team after being sent home from last week’s road trip due to disciplinary reasons, will be a healthy scratch.

“My plan until we made the trade (for Eminger) was to play Nick (tonight),” said DeBoer, who coached Eminger in junior hockey. “We were through (the incident). We know what (Boynton) can do for us…but you don’t make a trade for a player and not play him.”

NOTES

David Booth skated with the team Thursday morning and will be a game time decision… Sidney Crosby, who’s missed four games with a groin injury, is 50-50…Tomas Vokoun gets the start in goal…Keaton Ellerby was sent back to Rochester…Cory Stillman has 33 points (11 goals) in 25 career games against the Penguins…Vokoun is 5-6-2 lifetime against the Pens with a 2.59 goals against and .914 save percentage…

GUERIN TO MAKE DEBUT

Bill Guerin, acquired Wednesday from the Islanders by the Penguins for a conditional draft pick, will make his Penguin debut tonight. Guerin, who knew assistant coach and former Panther Tom Fitzgerald when they were kids growing up outside Boston, is expected to bring the Penguins size and scoring up front and veteran leadership. Guerin is one point shy of becoming the 14th U.S., born player to record 800 NHL points. He’s one of only eight U.S., born players to have 400 NHL goals.

OLESZ SKATES WITH PANTHERS

Rostislav Olesz, who has missed 39 games after surgery to repair a sports hernia, skated with the team for the first time Thursday morning. “It felt good to be with the team,” said Olesz, who had been skating on his own the past six days. Olesz is hoping to be ready to play within two weeks…

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Jagr 79 27 39 23 66
J. Jokinen 81 18 42 25 60
A. Barkov 66 28 31 18 59
J. Huberdeau 76 20 39 17 59
V. Trocheck 76 25 28 15 53
R. Smith 82 25 25 19 50
A. Ekblad 78 15 21 18 36
N. Bjugstad 67 15 19 -8 34
B. Campbell 82 6 25 31 31
B. Pirri 52 11 13 -4 24
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 35 19 6 .922 2.35
A. Montoya 12 7 3 .919 2.18

 
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