Devils @ Panthers, 10/13/16

Game 1
New Jersey Devils  @ Florida Panthers
Score: 2-1 OT, Win
Thursday, October 13th, 2016 – 7:30PM EST
BB&T Center – Sunrise, FL
Starting Goalies:
FLA: Luongo (0-0-0, 1.000, 0.00)
NJD: Schneider (0-0-0, 1.000, 0.00)

 Preview  Recap

Between The Lines

Opening Night 2016 is finally here and the Panthers are ready to get the ball rolling. The team announced its roster today for the first game of the season and, as expected, there are a slew of new faces. Compared to last year’s Opening Night roster, there are 10 new players in total including 5 new defensemen, 4 new forwards, and 1 new goaltender. Out of the defensemen expected to start on Thursday, only Aaron Ekblad and Alex Petrovic skated in last year’s opener while the other 4 are no longer with the team after what was a very interesting and exciting offseason for the Panthers.

Offensive defenseman Keith Yandle was acquired from the Rangers and signed to a long-term deal shortly after, and Dmitry Kulikov was sent to the Sabres in exchange for Mark Pysk while James Reimer, Jason Demers, Jonathan Marchessault, and Colton Sceviour were signed as free-agents at the beginning of July.

While the Panthers hoped that the latter 2 players would be able to improve the team’s scoring in the bottom-6, Jonathan Huberdeau will miss 3 to 4 months after his left ankle was cut by a skate during Saturday’s final preseason game at West Point and Nick Bjugstad will be out at least another 3 to 4 weeks with a broken right hand suffered last Tuesday.

Marchessault will move out of the bottom-6 and up to the top line with Aleksander Barkov and Jaromir Jagr to try to replace the scoring lost without Huberdeau. Greg McKegg – who’s playing in his first Opening Night game – and 27-year old Shane Harper – who will be making his NHL debut – will both slot in on the 4th line with center Derek MacKenzie. The only line that will remain the same from last season will be the 2nd combination of Jussi Jokinen, Vincent Trocheck, and Reilly Smith which totaled 26 goals at 5v5 even strength.

Jared McCann will take what was supposed to be Marchessault’s 3rd-line left wing spot with Sceviour on the right wing and Denis Malgin at center in place of Nick Bjugstad. McCann was acquired in a May trade with Vancouver that sent defenseman Erik Gudbranson north and Malgin, the youngest player on the Panthers’s roster at 19-years old, was drafted in the 4th-round of the 2015 Draft and will make his NHL debut on Thursday. The aforementioned Reimer will back up veteran goaltender Roberto Luongo who has recovered fully from hip surgery he underwent just over 5 months ago.

Before Thursday’s game, the Panthers will be raising their 2015-16 Atlantic Division Champions banner to the rafters. The Panthers defeated the Flyers 7-1 at last year’s season opener and set a modern NHL record for the fastest 4 goals scored to start a game (6:46). They’ve won 4 of their last 5 Opening Night games and have outscored their opponents 20-7 in those victories.

Projected Lineup

LW C RW
81 Marchessault 16 Barkov 68 Jagr
36 Jokinen 21 Trocheck 18 Smith
90 McCann 62 Malgin Sceviour
41 McKegg 17 MacKenzie 38 Harper
 LD  RD
3 Yandle 5 Ekblad
19 Matheson 55 Demers
13 Pysyk 6 Petrovic
 G Backup
1 Luongo 34 Reimer
 Scratched
Kampfer, Thornton
 Injured
Bjugstad (broken hand), Huberdeau (left ankle)
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