Florida Panthers: 7-14-6 (20 pts) at Boston Bruins 17-4-3 (37 pts)
The Florida Panthers will face a tough test tonight as they travel to Boston for a 7 pm puck drop against the Bruins. The Bruins have been arguably the best team in the Eastern Conference this season. Despite being fourth in the standings, the B’s have the highest point percentage in the East. The Canadiens and Penguins both have more points, 40 and 38 respectively, but both teams have played 27 games, three more than the Bruins. The Carolina Hurricanes hold the third spot in the East due to their leading the Southeast Division but with 31 points, they are clearly inferior to the Bruins.
Boston is coming off a tough 3-2 loss to the Penguins where they squandered a 2-0 lead in the third period and if the Bruins have displayed one weakness recently it is this; they are vulnerable to comebacks. Boston blew an early three goal lead against the Capitals last week and eventually lost 4-3 in overtime.
This bodes well for the Florida Panthers as they seem to be incapable of escaping the first five minutes of the game without going down at least one goal. In their last four games Florida has given up a goal within the first three minutes of the first period. In three of those games, the Panthers’ opponents scored on their first shot. That is not a good habit to get into for a team that is 1-14-3 when giving up the first goal.
The Panthers are coming off a 3-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning despite outshooting them 39-13. Tampa’s 13 shots were the fewest in an NHL win so far this season. Kris Versteeg left the game with an apparent knee injury after colliding with Radko Gudas in the third period. Versteeg had just returned from injury and was playing in only his third game back. Jonathan Rheault has been recalled by the Panthers to fill in for Versteeg.
The Panthers and Bruins met earlier this year, Feb 24th, a game which the Bruins won 4-1 in Florida. The highlight of that game was Zdeno Chara‘s spin-o-rama goal on Jacob Markstrom. The last time Florida traveled to Boston, last season, they were embarrassed 8-0. The Panthers would love to avoid that fate this time but with their recent play, a blowout is a distinct possibility. In their last ten games the Panthers are 2-6-2.
Here is the Panthers roster for tonight’s game according to NHL.com:
- With the news that Versteeg will be out for the season, Jonathan Rheault has been called up to be the replacement. He did not register a point in his previous time with the Panthers but showed good grit and speed.
- Scott Clemmensen will get the start in net tonight. Jacob Markstrom will sit tonight after making five straight starts during which he went 1-3-1. Clemmensen last started in a 3-2 loss to the Hurricanes, a game in which he stopped 21 of 24 shots.
So on that note, enjoy the game and be sure to follow us on twitter @fansidedtherat.