The Florida Panthers go into Boston tonight on the heels of their back to back three game eastern road swing before the All-Star break. And on the heels they were, as last night proved to be again another lesson in how to give up leads, fight back to get it back, and then hold on for dear life. They will face a Bruins team that leads the Northeast Division and that oddly enough is among the leaders in team scoring in the NHL. But as usual head coach Claude Julien feels that some of his players are underachieving.
Well, with a couple of them he’s probably right. Former Panther Nathan Horton who was part of the problem here, but didn’t want to be part of the solution has re-created himself in Boston and is up to his old tricks. Once among the leaders in scoring for the Bruins, Nathan has netted himself 12 goals after 47 games. He has scored only once in the last 19 games, and has no goals in his last nine. Sound familiar? David Krejci also has been snakebitten with no goals in his last 15 games. Topping this all off is Marc Savard being out of action with another concussion suffered in a victory Saturday over Colorado. No timetable has been set on his return, and knowing that he missed action last season from the hit by Penguin punk Matt Cooke, the Bruins will be careful not to rush him back.
Boston has relied on the comeback year of goaltender Tim Thomas, who again is shutting up the critics with a stellar season. Thomas is 23-5-6 with a 1,84 GAA and 6 shououts. Thomas is also 5-1-1 with a 1.26 GAA in his last seven starts against the Panthers, including one shutout. And believe it or not, former Panther Gregory Campbell has nine points in his last nine games, for a total of 18 points on the season so far.
The Panthers winning last night broke their four game losing streak and hope to finish the break on a positive note with a win tonight. Consistently not very good in the second of back to backs, the Panthers will have to apply pressure early and while taking a lead doesn’t always mean much, in this game it takes the home crowd out of the picture for awhile just as last night did. However, we know what that means.
I liked the energy that Darcy Hordichuk brought with him last night, which included some hitting, and a scoring chance to go along with his fiestyness. He appeared to be refreshed and aggravated at the same time. A perfect mixture. Whether or not we think the healthy scratches were deserved, he played as though he wants in the lineup. However I think we’ve seen that most nights anyway. With Chris Higgins coming back from injury, Steve Bernier was the odd man out. Higgins played extremely well and made a fantastic pass to Rusty Olesz which put the Panthers on the board in the first period.
With the exception of Evgeny Dadonov who’s going to the All-Star game to participate in the skills competition, the remainder of the team will have the next few days off after tonight. They’ve played a lot of hockey so far, especially this month. Getting a rest will be a good thing, as they likely need it. Spending some time away from the game for a couple days ought to refresh anyone. However coming back with a dramatic win last night and hopefully getting two points tonight, the team will find itself with positive momentum going into the break. Can you imagine that we are only six points out of the eighth spot in the conference behind Atlanta? Who is sliding?
Just think what a few more power play goals would have done. Or a couple calls from Toronto that should have went our way. Oh, well, we need to do this by ourselves. No one is going to give this team anything. So time to buckle up and earn it. I said a month ago, destiny is yours.
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