Shoot it Iginla

A quarter of the NHL season is officially in the books, making right about now gut-check time for our own Florida Panthers. Thanks to a late November streak, the Panthers are sitting in second place in the admittedly weak Southeast division, and the next few games could decide the final trajectory the season will take. Will the crew rise above its collective talent level (not extraordinary, but promising), or sink too far below .500 to be a factor in the East? A lot of that will depend on Olli Jokinen, who’s been saddled by rumors of unhappiness with Panther’s coach Jacques Martin, as well as the play of journeyman goalie Tomas Vokoun, a relative stopgap replacing last year’s ancient, but fan favorite tender, Ed Belfour.

And what better team to test the Panthers during this critical juncture than the Calgary Flames? Calgary is in a far tougher spot at this point, trailing powerhouses Vancouver, Colorado, and Minnesota in its own division. But the Flames are also a much more talented team. Right wing Jarome Iginla, four years removed from the NHL scoring title, is having one of his best starts to a season yet. His resurgence would be promising indeed, if only the rest of the team weren’t flubbing so terribly – including once-reliable net man, Miikka Kiprusoff. Can Iginla raise the Flames past the Panthers, or will Tuesday’s game at the BankAtlantic Center (1 Panther Parkway, Sunrise) be punctuated by chants of, “Olliiii, Olli, Olli, Olliiii?” Tickets start at $17. Call 954-835-8000, or visit
Tue., Dec. 11, 2007