I will admit, when I looked at the Blues' schedule after it was released, the first thought I had when I saw tonight's game wasn't "wow, the Florida Panthers! I'm so excited about being in town for this one!" It was more along the lines of: "Great. The Panthers. I'm driving 530 miles to watch them?"
The Blues' defense needs to be sharper tonight than they were in their 4-2 win over the Predators on Thursday. Florida's offense isn't high-octane, but they're speedy and will exploit any defensive gaps that a team gives them. I'm pretty sure that they don't give a flying flip about the pundits' pre-season expectations. The Panthers have been written off by nearly everyone, so anything they do is a surprise.
Jaroslav Halak is back in net tonight, Alex Steen may be short a tooth, and the lines should look the same. The second line of Brenden Morrow, Derek Roy, and Chris Stewart looked off at times, especially Stewart, but more playing time together should fix that. The Blues' top line was responsible for three of their four goals Thursday night, and Vladimir Sobotka and his patience were responsible for the other. That line, as well as the third and fourth lines, had excellent energy Thursday. Keep up that pressure and the Blues should be able to win their first two games before the Blackhawks come into town on the 9th.
Let's make Tim Thomas wish he never left Colorado. Let's light him up like the Fourth of July. Let's Go Blues.