The Colorado Avalanche continue their road trip through the Southeast with another stop in Florida, this time to take on the struggling Florida Panthers.
The Avalanche return to the scene of their first ever Stanley Cup championship, a classic triple overtime victory over Florida that gave the state of Colorado it's first ever major sports championship. Times have changed in the interim, as Avalanche captain Adam Foote is the only remaining active player from either team still in the league. The Panthers organization is doing their part to remember the anniversary, even making tonight's game a "retro" event. Scoreboards will use mid-90s style computer graphics, and Joe Sakic will take part in the ceremonial puck drop before the game. Unfortunately, due to licensing restrictions, tonight's festivities and game will not be televised anywhere.
What about the 2010-2011 Florida Panthers? They have fallen quite far from their heights in 1996. They haven't made the NHL playoffs since 2000, and have struggled to stay relevant within their market. They have one of the elite goaltenders in the league, Thomas Vokoun, but have been unable to build an offense around him. Their leading scorers are David Booth and Michael Frolik, each with 14 points on the season. Those numbers would tie them with Kevin Shattenkirk for seventh place on the Avalanche. That's right, the leading scorer for Florida has as many points as a rookie defenseman who has only played 15 games on the season.
The lack of offense is highlighted by Florida's NHL-worst power play at 8.05%. Their combined seven power play goals is almost singlehandedly matched by Milan Hejduk of Colorado. A small glimmer of hope for Florida? Their penalty kill has been exceptional this season, and has kept them in games.
Colorado's strong five-on-five play should give them an advantage in this game. They are the better offensive team and, with Craig Anderson back in net, should be able to bring enough firepower to get their first victory of the roadtrip.
Puck drops at 5:30pm MST. This game will not be televised.