Florida Panthers: 3-8-4 (10 points, 7th in Atlantic) at Boston Bruins: 8-5-1 (17 points, 4th in Atlantic)
The Florida Panthers will take on the Bruins tonight in Boston at 7:00 pm. It will be the second of five meetings this season between the two teams, and first of three games in Boston.
Tim Thomas will be returning to Boston for the first time since he left the team prior to last season. Although Thomas will be with the Panthers, he will not be between the pipes as he is still recovering from a lower body injury sustained against the Chicago Blackhawks on October 22nd.
The Bruins topped Thomas and the Panthers 3-2 when the teams met in Florida on October 17th. The Panthers came within a minute from picking up a point in the game after they came back form an early 2-0 deficit but Reilly Smith squeaked one past Thomas with less than a minute to go in the third to give the B’s the win. That game was probably Thomas’ best in a Panther uniform as he stopped 37 of 40 shots faced.
Both the Panthers and Bruins are coming off post-regulation losses on Tuesday night. The Panthers fell 4-3 in overtime to the Edmonton Oilers while the Bruins lost 3-2 in a shootout to the Dallas Stars. For the Bruins, the game against the Stars on Tuesday was Tyler Seguin‘s first game back in Boston since he was traded to Dallas in the offseason. Seguin was held off the scoresheet but he did manage to beat Tuukka Rask in the shootout.
The Bruins have been slumping of late as they have lost four of their last five. They have fared well against Atlantic Division foes so far as they have a 5-1-0 record in the new division. The Panthers who are seemingly always slumping have lost six straight and are winless in the Atlantic going 0-3-1 in their four divisional games.
The Bruins have been led on offense this year by Milan Lucic and David Krejci. Lucic leads the team in goals with seven to go along with six assists for 13 points. Kerjci has a team high 12 assists and a team high 14 points. 22-year old defenseman Torey Krug has been strong on the back end for the Bruins tallying five goals and three assists.
The key for the Panthers tonight is getting off to a good start. The Panthers have outscored their opponents 16-12 in the third period but that is largely because they are usually playing from behind in the final frame. In the first two periods, Florida is getting outscored 37-14. The issue has not necessarily been coming out slow. In a lot of games, the Panthers have controlled the game early only to give up a couple goals on counterattacks or due to defensive breakdowns or bad goaltending. Nothing takes the wind out of a team’s sails like playing well but still falling behind. It has been a testament to the team’s resiliency that they have so often been able to come back but the Panthers can make life a lot easier for themselves if they keep things close early on.