BY SCOTT MORGANROTH
PHOTOS BY CANDICE EBLING
It wasn’t long ago that when the Detroit Red Wings visited Sunrise, FL., that there were many close games that even went into overtime’s or shootouts.
Watching Panthers future Hall of Fame Goaltender Roberto Luongo face 40 shots a game was always a treat witnessing greatness as it’s inevitable that his No.1 Jersey will eventually be hanging in the rafters at the BB&T Center.
In Detroit, the No.1 Jersey resides in the rafters at Little Caesar’s Arena.
As the Red Wings rebuild continues, these franchises appear to be headed in different directions.
Going into tonight’s clash in South Florida, the Panthers had a 6-3-4 mark with 16 points. Meanwhile, the Red Wings were 4-9-1 with nine points.
The Panthers hired Stanley Cup Championship Coach Joel Quenneville while Jeff Blashill remains at the helm for Detroit.
Florida leads the all-time series 20-17-5-6 and are 4-0-1 collecting points in each of the last five contests.
In 2018-19, Florida won the season series 3-0-1.
Florida’s last win against Detroit occurred on March 10, 2019 by hammering the Red Wings 6-1 in Sunrise.
Unfortunately, Saturday Night wouldn’t be much better as Florida skated to a dominant performance by outshooting the Red Wings 41-22 en route to a 4-0 shutout win as the rubber rats were thrown on the ice which is a Panthers tradition after a win.
Luongo’s replacement Sergei Bobrovsky, who signed as a free agent in the off-season improved his record to 6-2-3 while Red Wings netminder Jonathan Bernier dropped to 2-4-1.
The shutout was the first for Bobrovsky as a Panther and his 34th of his career.
Left-winger Jonathon Huberdeau led the Panthers with two goals defenseman Anton Stralman recorded 200th career assist. Huberdeau has nine goals for the season.
The Panthers have won five of seven to move to 7-3-4, their best 14-game start since 1996-97, when they opened 9-1-4.
On Friday Night in Carolina in a 7-3 loss to the Hurricanes in Raleigh, Bernier replaced starter Jimmy Howard.
In the past two games in South Florida, the Red Wings have been outscored 10-1 by Florida and dejected Blashill was well aware that it hasn’t been very pleasant.
“ No it hasn’t,” Blashill said. “They kicked our ass. They’re a good team. There are a lot of good teams out there. If we compete like crazy and still lose, it’s one thing. We didn’t compete like crazy. We need to find a way to compete better.”
Meanwhile, the Red Wings fell to 1-9-1 in their past 11 games.
Thankfully for the Red Wings, they have 48 hours to think about this loss as the Nashville Predators come town.
Detroit returns to The Sunshine State on December 28-29 to face these Panthers and GM Steve Yzerman’s old club the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Scott Morganroth can be reached at email@example.com.
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