In case you haven’t noticed, and judging by the attendance you haven’t, the Panthers have managed to win a few here and there

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The Florida Panthers may play in front of a lot of empty seats, they may lose a lot of money, and they may have even eclipsed the Arizona Coyotes in terms of relocation speculation.

But you know what?

The Panthers are actually playing some decent hockey these days.

Florida (4-2-3) enters tonight’s contest in Boston riding a two-game winning streak and on a six-game points streak. While no team has played fewer times than the Panthers (9), it’s still worth mentioning that no team has fewer regulation losses than their two.

The shot-stopping of goalie Roberto Luongo has been a major factor in Florida’s early success, as the 35-year-old has compiled an impressive .933 save percentage in eight starts. The Panthers are also among the league’s top possession teams, even if it needs to be noted they’ve only played three opponents that made the playoffs last season.

Besides goaltending, Florida also boasts a decent collection of blue-liners, including first overall pick Aaron Ekblad, who’s logged 21:25 per game while paired with veteran Brian Campbell.

In a recent interview with a Winnipeg radio station (audio), Panthers owner Doug Cifu said Ekblad “looks like the second coming of Ray Bourque.”

Granted, we’re not sure making statements like that is the best way to manage expectations, but Ekblad has looked pretty good for an 18-year-old.

The Panthers’ next 10 games…

source:

…should provide a good test for this team.

Related: Luongo says ‘we need to start winning some games’ for Panthers’ attendance to improve

Goalie nods: Greiss gets Wild, despite Fleury’s back-to-back shutouts

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News and notes from around the crease…

Fleury takes a seat

Interesting decision from the Penguins tonight, as they’ll give backup Thomas Greiss the start against the Wild at Xcel — even though Marc-Andre Fleury, the NHL’s reigning third star of the week, is in the midst of a two-game shutout streak.

The Penguins kick off a five-game roadie starting tonight and Greiss hasn’t played since Oct. 23, so there are some reasons to get him in. That said, Fleury has been nothing short of outstanding lately — he actually has three shutouts in his last four starts — and tonight’s game is one of Pittsburgh’s bigger tests; Minnesota is third in the NHL in goals per game (3.40) with a perfect 5-0-0 record at home, and the Penguins have some “easier” games on this trip, including a stop in Buffalo on Saturday.

For the Wild, Darcy Kuemper will be in goal.

Elsewhere…

Panthers at Bruins: Roberto Luongo vs. Tuukka Rask

Oilers at Flyers: Viktor Fasth vs. Steve Mason

Flames at Caps: Jonas Hiller vs. Braden Holtby

‘Canes at Jackets: Cam Ward vs. Curtis McElhinney

Wings at Sens: Jimmy Howard vs. Craig Anderson

‘Hawks at Habs: Corey Crawford vs. Carey Price

Blues at Devils: Jake Allen vs. Cory Schneider

Preds at Jets: Carter Hutton vs. Ondrej Pavelec

Kings at Stars: Kari Lehtonen for Dallas, Jonathan Quick likely for L.A.

Canucks at Avs: Ryan Miller vs. Semyon Varlamov

Leafs at Coyotes: Mike Smith for Arizona, Jonathan Bernier likely for Toronto.

Goalie nods: Anton Forsberg debuts for battered Blue Jackets

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News and notes from the crease …

Forsberg’s first

With Sergei Bobrovsky on the shelf, it looks like the Columbus Blue Jackets will give Anton Forsberg his first career NHL start tonight.

Here’s a quick Forsberg bio for those in the crowd wondering … “Anton who?”

 

Forsberg faces Cory Schneider and the New Jersey Devils in his debut.

Crawford’s back

The Chicago Blackhawks sent Scott Darling back to the minors (to the relief of Antti Raanta, who was likely sweating Darling’s strong work) as Corey Crawford appears ready to return. At the moment, it looks like James Reimer will be in net for the Toronto Maple Leafs, who are wrapping up a back-to-back set.

Elsewhere …

Flyers at Panthers: Steve Mason strives for his first win of 2014-15 with Philly while Roberto Luongo’s in net for Florida.

Jets at Rangers: Ondrej Pavelec for Winnipeg and Henrik Lundqvist for New York.

Capitals at Lightning: Braden Holtby starts for Washington, Ben Bishop goes for Tampa Bay.

Coyotes at Hurricanes: Mike Smith tries to get it together with Arizona while Cam Ward continues Carolina’s quest for a win.

Senators at Bruins: Robin Lehner’s in for Ottawa, Tuukka Rask likely for Boston.

Sabres at Penguins: Jhonas Enroth gets thrown to the wolves by Buffalo while Marc-Andre Fleury is looking like a workhorse so far for Pittsburgh.

Stars at Wild: Dallas seems to be leaning toward Kari Lehtonen while Minnesota rolls with Darcy Kuemper.

Avalanche at Blues: Semyon Varlamov goes for Colorado while Brian Elliott hopes that his goalie mask protects him from the bug going around the St. Louis locker room.

Canucks at Oilers: Ryan Miller starts for Vancouver while Ben Scrivens continues to be the go-to guy for Edmonton.

Islanders at Sharks: Jaroslav Halak hopes to stop New York’s run of bad goaltending while Antti Niemi is in net for San Jose.

Markstrom falls short of AHL shutout record

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Jacob Markstrom had been on quite a roll for the Utica Comets in the American Hockey League. But he will not break the big record, at least not tonight.

Markstrom, who the Vancouver Canucks acquired just prior to the 2014 NHL trade deadline in that blockbuster deal involving Roberto Luongo, entered tonight’s game against the Binghamton Senators having not allowed a goal in 232 minutes and 13 seconds, recording three consecutive shutouts prior to Friday.

He was closing in on the league’s shutout record, held by former Abbotsford Heat goalie Barry Brust, who set the new standard at 268 minutes and 17 seconds.

Brust set that back in November of 2012, breaking the previous mark held by Johnny Bower.

The Senators opened the scoring less than six minutes into the first period, halting Markstrom’s current bid for the record books.

The Canucks, deciding to go with the duo of Ryan Miller and Eddie Lack, and opting not to keep three goalies at the NHL level, reassigned Markstrom to the AHL prior toward the end of September.

Goalie nods: Svedberg gets Buffalo again, Darling starts third straight

The latest from the blue paint…

Boston goes with Svedberg

Niklas Svedberg will make his fourth start of the season on Thursday when the B’s take on the Sabres in Buffalo. The Swedish netminder, who took over backup duties from the now-departed Chad Johnson, has been very good for Boston this season, posting a .951 save percentage and 1.57 GAA — this despite the fact he’s only registered one win on the year (a 4-0 shutout of the Sabres back on Oct. 18).

Speaking of the Sabres, they’ll go back to Jhonas Enroth tonight after Michal Neuvirth got the call in each of the last two games. Enroth’s last game was a 2-0 loss in Los Angeles and while he’s just 1-5-0 on the year, he does have a respectable .914 save percentage.

Chicago rides Darling

AHL call-up Scott Darling will make his third consecutive start tonight when the ‘Hawks take on the Sens in Ottawa. Darling’s streak began, ironically enough, against this same Ottawa team — he stopped 32 of 33 shots in a 2-1 win over the Sens last Sunday, followed up by stopping 24 of 25 in a 1-0 loss to Anaheim on Tuesday.

As for the Senators, they’ll go with the same guy that lost to Darling on Sunday: Craig Anderson. “Andy” has been alternating games with Robin Lehner of late but would probably have gotten this Chicago game regardless of the rotation — in the aforementioned 2-1 loss, Anderson stopped 43 of 45 Blackhawks shots, good for a .956 save percentage.

Elsewhere…

Jets at Devils: Ondrej Pavelec vs. Cory Schneider

Kings at Penguins: Martin Jones vs. Marc-Andre Fleury

Coyotes at Panthers: Mike Smith vs. Roberto Luongo

Flyers at Lightning: Ray Emery vs. Ben Bishop

Ducks at Blues: John Gibson vs. Jake Allen

Sharks at Wild: Antti Niemi vs. Darcy Kuemper

Isles at Avs: Chad Johnson vs. Semyon Varlamov

Habs at Canucks: No word on starters yet, but Carey Price and Ryan Miller are likely.