This time of the year is full of some exciting hockey. Teams are either gearing up for the playoffs or fighting for the last playoff spots. But there is one must watch hockey game tonight that will leave your mind in a pretzel. Never in a million years would I ever think that the Columbus Blue Jackets hosting the Florida Panthers would be must watch hockey. Tonight at 7pm the puck will drop as the hottest two teams in the league face off in the middle of a great playoff race in the East. Let’s look at both teams.
Columbus Blue Jackets
11-2 int the last 13. Winners of 9 straight games. This team is smoking hot right now. They have a deep line up that play a fast paced game and can beat anyone. Panarin seems to be a great fit and has helped improve this team greatly with more consistent scoring and being able to deepen the offense that will be a huge advantage in the playoffs. Vanek on the third line helps give the Jackets a scoring threat and added depth along with Power Play experience. Also, Sonny Milano who has some of the sickest mitts in the league, has played pretty damn good when he’s in the lineup, adding 12 goals in 47 games this season. Overall, this team has the potential for an upset. They have the goaltending, the defense led by the all star Seth Jones, and a pretty good offense. I don’t think they have the consistency to win the cup but when they get hot, they are a scary team to play against. Also as a Rangers fan it would be nice for Torts to get a cup and shove it up their behind.
The Panthers have definitely over achieved this season. They had a mediocre first half of the season and have been on fire the second half. 11-3-1 in their last 15. Their position right now is in the 9th spot trying to catch the Devils. With two games in hand they will do just that. The Devils looked awful in San Jose the other night and Schneider looked like he hasn’t played in three years. Here is my opinion on the Panthers: They have an offense that can be great. Their three top lines are led by some three talented centers in Barkov, Trocheck, and McCann, however their offense will not be able to carry them past a round. Their defense is not deep enough to win. Ekblad is great and Yandle is solid, but there is no real offensive threat beyond that point. Their goaltending is fantastic right now, but I don’t think anyone really trusts Roberto or Reimer. Despite their hot streak into the playoffs, I don’t think this team can steal a series whomever they play. Having said that, I’ll be pulling for them.
Tonight should be a great match up. Both teams are a combined 22-5-3 in their recent hot streak. Who doesn’t love a taste of some playoff hockey? If the Blue Jackets win, they pretty much clinch a playoff birth and if the Panthers win then they control their own destiny. They need these two points desperately and cannot rely on the Devils to roll over and die. The game starts at 7pm EST, be sure to tune in to some A+ hockey.
Papa’s Prediction….FLA 4 – CLB 3 OT