The Bruins return to home ice tonight where they host the Southeast Division leading Florida Panthers. The soon to be division/conference/ or whatever the new names will be called rival Panthers enter the Garden holding a five point lead over the Washington Capitals for first in the division.
The Bruins are coming off their first regulation loss in over a month after dropping Tuesday’s tilt in Winnipeg to the Jets. The Panthers have won their last two games beating the San Jose Sharks, and most recently the Washington Capitals.
Puck Drop: 7:00 p.m.
TV/Radio: NESN/98.5 The Sports Hub
2011-12 season series: First matchup
Expected goalie matchup: Tim Thomas vs. Theodore
What to watch for Bruins:
Tim Thomas is expected back in net for the Bruins tonight. Thomas’ is having one of the best runs of his career as the veteran goalie has won his last 10 starts. Lifetime Timmy is 7-6-2 with a 2.94 goals against average in 16 starts against the Panthers. Thomas will be looked upon to shut down a Panthers team who has 10 goals in their last two contests.
After being benched in Winnipeg due to missing a team meeting, leading scorer Tyler Seguin will be back in the Bruins lineup tonight. After a scorching hot start to the season, Seguin has been in a bit of a goal drought. The nineteen-year-old sniper has just two goals in his past 10 games. Look for Seguin to respond in a big way after his benching.
The Bruins fourth line or “energy line” as they like to be called have produced back-to-back solid games. The trio of Shawn Thornton, Gregory Campbell, and Daniel Pallie has combined for two goals and four assists in the past two games. Look for the “energy line” to keep rolling against the Panthers tonight.
What to watch for Panthers:
Panther’s new comers Tomas Fleischmann and Kris Versteeg have been two huge reasons why the Panthers are where they are. The two talented forwards have identical 12-16-28 numbers. The 28 points ties them for second on the team, just one point behind Stephen Weiss who has 11-18-29.
Speaking of Weiss, the Toronto native carries back-to-back three point games into tonight’s game with the Bruins. Weiss has netted three goals, and three assists in those two contests. With Weiss centering Fleischmann and Versteeg on the Panthers top line, expect to see Bruins top defensive pairing Zdeno Chara and Johnny Boychuk lining up against that trio throughout the night.
The Panthers enter tonight with the National Hockey League’s fourth best power play percentage with a 21.3 success rate. The Bruins enter tonight with the National Hockey League’s fourth best penalty kill with a 83.3 success rate. Something’s got to give right? One mistake on the penalty kill could come back and haunt the Bruins tonight.
Gameday links Bruins:
Ty Anderson of Hockeybuzz wants to know if this is still hockey.
David Krejci, a Witch? (Daysofyorr.com)
CSNNE’S Joe Haggerty gives you his NHL Power Rankings, where do the B’s rank?
Gameday links Panthers:
Panthers build success by staying outside the box. (Craig Davis/Sunsentenial.com)
Panthers being tested in tough stretch. (David J. Neal/ Miamiherald)