Maybe the Winter Olympics should be played every year. Or at least the NHL should always take a two-week break in February, because ever since the Olympics, the Florida Panthers have looked like a different team on the ice. Forget those guys who couldn't close out opponents. This Panthers squad plays with energy from the drop of the puck to the final horn.
So what does that mean for the visiting Nashville Predators when they skate into the BankAtlantic Center this Monday? Well, they aren't facing the early-season Panthers team they thrashed in Nashville 4-1 last fall. That loss was the fourth in a five-game streak for the Panthers. But the Predators, who are fighting for the seventh or eighth spot in the Western Conference playoff, won't face back-up goalie Scott Clemmensen this time around. Tomas Vokoun, an original Predator, should be in goal for the Cats.
Mon., March 29, 7:30 p.m., 2010