clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Sharks at Panthers: Lines, gamethread, and where to watch

The Sharks can avoid a season sweep by the hapless Florida Panthers

Czech ice dancing champion Radim Vrbata returns to the lineup tonight
Czech ice dancing champion Radim Vrbata returns to the lineup tonight
Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

The Sharks (13-8-2) start a good old-fashioned Florida back to back tonight with their second and last meeting of the season with the Florida Panthers (10-12-2). The Panthers are nothing short of a disaster this year. New and old general manager Dale Tallon seems to have molded his decision making practice so far as an attempt to undo every move his predecessor made, and the team is worse for it: a situation with which our American readers can no doubt empathize.

The Sharks scored twice en route to a 2-0 shut out loss to the Panthers on 16 November in San Jose, a game most fondly remembered for starting the Peter DeBoer dart board trend in the league's Toronto offices. That makes tonight's game against his former protege, Panthers head coach Bob Bougner, important to DeBoer: "I just told our guys today, there's no way we can go 0-2 against these guys and me listen to that all summer. This is a big one for us."

The Panthers have held serve at .500 since that game, with a 3-3-0 record to show for it. Holding serve isn't good enough, however, as the Cats will need a miracle to qualify for the postseason at this point. Nobody told goaltender Roberto Luongo that their season is over, apparently, as he's gone 5-2-0 in his last seven starts, with a goals against average of 1.97 and a save percentage of .941. The Panthers' top line is still dangerous, where Jonathan Huberdeau leads the team in points (25) and assists (17), and center Aleksander Barkov leads all NHL forwards in average ice time with 22:34.

Backup goaltender and frozen wonderland Aaron Dell starts for the Sharks for the second time in a row for the first time in his career. Including his most recent outing, a 22 save performance on 23 shots in a 3-1 win in Philadelphia, Dell has shown himself to be a capable NHL goalie, and one wonders if he's destined to follow the Cameron J. Talbot career path as he is set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this year.

Hopefully the Sharks can live in the present, avoid looking forward to the dominant Tampa Bay Lightning tomorrow evening, and lock up two points against one of the Eastern conference's bottom feeders.

Sharks Lines

Timo Meier -- Joe Thornton -- Joe Pavelski

Melker Karlsson -- Logan Couture -- Tomas Hertl

Jannik Hansen -- Chris Tierney -- Mikkel Boedker

Kevin Labanc -- Ryan Carpenter -- Joel Ward

Marc-Edouard Vlasic -- Justin Braun

Brenden Dillon -- Brent Burns

Joakim Ryan -- Dylan DeMelo

Aaron Dell

Martin Jones

Scratched: Daniel O'Regan

Injured: Joonas Donskoi (lower body), Paul Martin (ankle), Barclay Goodrow (upper body), Tim Heed (upper body)

Jones has been deemed healthy enough to back up Dell tonight, as Antoine Bibeau was reassigned back to the AHL today. Labanc will draw into the lineup for the tragically injured Donskoi, and Carpenter will slot in for O'Regan for the former's homecoming as a good Orlando boy.

Panthers Lines

Jonathan Huberdeau -- Aleksander Barkov -- Denis Malgin

Jamie McGinn -- Vincent Trocheck -- Nick Bjugstad

Henrik Haapala -- Jared McCann -- Radim Vrbata

Micheal Haley - Derek MacKenzie -- Colton Sceviour

Keith Yandle -- Aaron Ekblad

Mike Matheson -- MacKenzie Weegar

Mark Pysyk -- Alex Petrovic

Roberto Luongo

James Reimer

Scratched: Connor Brickley, Ian McCoshen, Dryden Hunt

Injured: Evgenii Dadonov (upper body)

Vrbata is set to return for the first time since taking a puck to the face on his first shift in LA on 18 November. He's missed the Panthers' last five games.

Also, what is the deal with this team and players whose names have a Mc or a Mac in them? There are four in tonight's line up, one scratched, three in their minor league affiliates (Matt MacKenzie, Brandon McNally, Stephen MacAuley), and their ECHL affiliate, the Cincinatti Cyclones, is coached by Matt MacDonald.

That seems like a lot. Do they know something that we don't? Is this the bold new direction ice hockey is taking? Does their jersey department have a massive surplus of Ms and Cs and this is their most effective way to address it? What an enigma!

Where to watch

Broadcast: FS-F, NBCSCA

Stream: / NHL App

Radio: 98.5 KFOX / NHL App / Sharks App