After a much needed break from a hectic schedule, the Florida Panthers resume play this evening with a matchup against the Boston Bruins at the Bank Atlantic Center. Game time 5:00 PM, which could mean a late arriving crowd based on the Dolphins game this afternoon.
Nonetheless after filling their stomachs with turkey, ham and whatever else was on their holiday dinner table the Panthers will take on a Bruins team that currently sits fifth in the Eastern Conference and has won two games in a row.
Florida on the other hand is coming off a 4-1 road loss to the New York Rangers on Wednesday after an emotional defeat of the Flyers two days before. The Panthers currently find themselves in the tenth spot in the East as the Rangers occupy the ninth spot and Atlanta is eighth. One point separates Florida from the eighth spot, therefore a victory tonight is a must.
The last time these teams played each other the Panthers won in a shootout as Cory Stillman scored in the fourth round giving the Panthers a 1-0 victory. Boston is currently 4-1-1 against SouthEast opponents, but have outscored those teams21-14.
Marco Sturm leads the Bruins in goals with 10 and Patrice Bergeron leads in points with 29. Veteran Mark Recchi has eleven points in his last eleven games proving that at 41 years old he still has something left in the tank. Defensively the Bruins are lead by Zdeno Chara as their top defenceman and in goal, last year’s Vezina Trophy winner, the surprisiingly inconsistent Tim Thomas. Thomas is 2-0-0 in his last two games.
Florida will most likely start Tomas Vokoun in net, who wasn’t too sharp on Wednesday, but in his defence he wasn’t given much support either in the loss to the Rangers. The top line of Weiss, Horton and Frolik remain hot for Florida, although had nothing on the scoreboard in Wednesday night’s game. Proving that Florida needs more secondary scoring and if you shut down that line, you’ve got a pretty solid chance of beating them. Help is on the way as Cory Stillman, out since November is due back New Years Eve (Montreal) to potentially join the second line and be reuinted with Steven Reinprecht who has cooled off since Stillman has been hurt.
Nick Tarnasky will be in tonight’s lineup for Florida as he returns from orbital surgery and missing the entire season so far, after a fight with Ottawa’s Chris Neill. Nasty Nick, has been chompin’ at the bit as we say to get back in action. We’ll see how coach DeBoer elects to use Nick and see how much ice time the agitator gets.
I’ll be at this one, so I’ll have a personal view of how things go.
Fast start, minimal mistakes, and take advantage of any Bruin mistakes will be the keys. If Boston gets a lead, they will lull us to sleep with their stifling defensive style.
Let’s Go Panthers!
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