Jan. 16, 2012: Sunrise, FL, USA; Florida Panthers center Shawn Matthias (18) takes a shot on goal against Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask (40) during the first period at the BankAtlantic Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

Game Day Preview: Bruins vs. Panthers. Time To Rise Up.

BOSTON BRUINS: 40-26-3 (83 PTS.) vs. FLORIDA PANTHERS: 33-23-13 (79 PTS.)




If you need motivation for a game like tonight, you need a heart transplant.  The big, bad, and tough Boston Bruins invade the Bank Atlantic Center tonight to face the Florida Panthers.  What’s on the line?  The Bruins will be looking to stop a three game losing streak, and rebound from a horrific 6-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, which saw them trailing 3-0 within five minutes.  They were down 5-0 before Jordan Caron scored Boston’s only goal, but the game was already out of hand at that point.

That game marked the first start for recently acquired Marty Turco, who was brought in to back up Tim Thomas with the recent groin injury to Tuuka Rask.  In what not a polite welcome back to the NHL for Turco, the veteran netminder gave up the first three goals, and was pulled in favor of Tim Thomas who thought he was getting the night off.  Thomas then gave up two more and  then Turco was brought back in to finish the slop.  an awful game if you’re a Bruins fan, as no one likes to see the revolving door of goalies in a game. Head coach Claude Julien has his idea on what’s been wrong with Boston lately as they’re 4-6-0 in their last 10 games:

“What’s really throwing us off right now is we give those teams leads, and all of a sudden guys are getting frustrated, and we just kind of get away from our game plan,” coach Claude Julien said. “Instead of playing the way we should, we’re starting to cheat and we’re trying to get those goals back. In frustration, we’re making poor decisions and so on and so forth. It just snowballs.”

The Bruins will be hoping for a better effort and will probably come out with some angst, and some intensity to set the tone to the game.  Knowing that they’ve won eight of nine in Florida recently and including five in a row will give them all the confidence that they need.

Keep your eyes peeled on Tyler Seguin and David Kreci.  Each with nine points in their last eight games, these two have been the offensive leaders of late for the Bruins.  Seguin leads Boston in goals with 24 and points with 57.  The Bruins have eight players in total who have goals in double digits, and that includes the pests of all pests Brad Marchand who has 23 goals.

Nathan Horton remains out of the lineup due to symptoms from a concussion.  It’s not known if or when he’ll return this season.  Marc Savard is also in injured reserve for the exact same issues.  The Bruins have had quite an up and down season.  They’ve been streaky on both sides of the win-loss column.  I expect them to come out tonight and test the Panthers early and try to bump and grind their way through the early portion of the contest.

The Panthers meanwhile will be looking to continue the momentum that they’ve picked up on their current four game homestand.  Riding the hotness of Jose Theodore, the Panthers are 6-3-1 in their previous 10 games, and have won three consecutive home games, and will be looking for their third win in a row over all.

Secondary scoring contributed to their victory Tuesday night over Toronto with Tomas Kopecky, Sean Bergenheim and Marcel Goc each having a productive night.  For Kopecky it’s been a long time coming, as his hard work hasn’t shown up on the scoreboard, but he felt great after the game with his and his team’s performance, as he looked forward to this Bruins contest:

 “We gotta get ready for Thursday, Boston’s a really good team and it’s gonna be a good test for us,” Florida forward Tomas Kopecky said.

The biggest story of late however must be Jose Theodore.  He’s won three consecutive home games, and has a 1.82 GAA over his past 16 games at the Bank Atlantic Center.  I can’t say enough how valuable Jose has been to the Panthers success this season.  He has kept them in games that Florida may not have had any business being in, and the players have thrived because of it.  Theodore is 9-1-1 in his last 11 starts against the Bruins.

Florida will have to play this game hard nosed, and must match the physical play of the Bruins without getting themselves into penalty trouble.  The Panthers can ill afford to give Boston any sniff of an advantage especially early on.  If ever there was a game where the Panthers needed to score first, tonight is it. The Panthers will also be looking for their first four game home winning streak since January 2010.

Nerdy Notes’Numbers:

* The next goal that defenceman Jason Garrison scores will set the all-time record for Florida Panther defencemen.  He currently has 15 which ties him with Jay Bouwmeester and Bryan McCabe.

* The Panthers lead the series 31-27-6-6.

* Sean Bergenheim has surpassed his career high in goals by scoring his 16th against the Maple Leafs on Tuesday.

* Florida is 12-0-2 on home ice when scoring three goals or more.

* The last time the Bruins lost three in a row, they followed that up with a 10 game winning streak and a 15 game point streak (14-0-1).

* Boston is 31-0-0 when they have a two goal lead at any point during a game.

* The Bruins have seven shutouts for and against this season.

* There have been 121 multi point games by Bruin players this season and Milan Lucic has 15.

Thanks for reading.  We welcome your comments and opinions.

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Tags: Boston Bruins Florida Panthers Jose Theodore Is Hot Milan Lucic Nathan Horton The Rising Tomas Kopecky

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