Game Day preview: Bruins vs. Panthers
The Boston Bruins will look for their third straight win tonight as they host Shawn Thornton and the Florida Panthers at TD Garden. After seven seasons donning the Black and Gold as the team’s enforcer, Thornton returns as an opposing player for the first time since signing with the Panthers in the off-season.
The Bruins have strung together some success lately, winning five of seven improving their record to over .500 for the first time since Opening night. With the B’s dealing with the injury bug, it is a perfect time for them to take advantage of their soft schedule and climb back to their usual spot at the top of the Eastern conference standings.
Here is your complete Bruins-Panthers preview:
Gametime: 7:00 PM
TV/Radio: NESN, 98.5 The Sports Hub
Records: Bruins 7-6-0, 14 points/Panthers 4-2-3, 11 points
Location: TD Garden
Bruins’ projected lines:
Milan Lucic-Chris Kelly-Seth Griffith
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Reilly Smith
Matt Fraser-Carl Soderberg-Loui Eriksson
Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Simon Gagne
Dennis Seidenberg-Dougie Hamilton
Joe Morrow-Adam McQuaid
David Warsofsky-Zach Trotman
Panthers’ projected lines:
Tomas Fleischmann-Jussi Jokinen-Brad Boyes
Scottie Upshall-Nick Bjugstad-Jimmy Hayes
Tomas Kopecky-Derek MacKenzie-Shawn Thornton
Colby Robak-Vincent Trocheck-Rocco Grimaldi
Brian Campbell-Aaron Ekblad
Willie Mitchell-Dmitry Kulikov
Dylan Olsen-Erik Gudbranson
Who to watch for Bruins: Matt Fraser
With David Krejci (lower-body) out of the lineup for the second straight game, Matt Fraser needs to build off his two-goal effort from Saturday night against the Ottawa Senators.
Fraser has appeared in just five games for Boston, but has had a knack for lighting the lamp when he is in there.
For not playing a game since October 18th at Buffalo, Fraser didn’t miss a beat. The 24 year-old looked confident and was not afraid to shoot the puck when the opportunity presented itself. He ended the game with five shots on goal and almost 11 minutes of ice time.
On Boston.com: Last minute decision works out well for Fraser
If Fraser can give the B’s a lift in the offensive zone with their best play maker out, the team will be in good shape. The key is for Fraser to be consistent.
Who to watch for Panthers: Shawn Thornton
If there is one guy in the building to keep an eye on tonight it’s Shawn Thornton. He makes his return to Boston where he spent the last seven years.
Thornton was never the forward who would net 20 goals, but he was the player who could change the momentum of a game with a fight or a big hit and the Black and Gold need to make sure that doesn’t happen tonight. The 37 year-old is a scrappy and smart player, but he will not hurt you with his playmaking abilities. He has zero points on the season with a minus-1 rating.
Game Day Edge: Put young defensemen in spot to succeed
The Bruins have lost Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug and Kevan Miller to injuries over the team’s first 13 games of the year. Not to mention Johnny Boychuk was traded earlier on. The young defensemen have stepped up in a big way and need to continue to play with confidence.
On Boston.com: Bruins youngsters stepping up on depleted blue line
The forwards must back check, puck movement needs to be tape to tape, and assignments can’t be blown. If Morrow, Trotman and Warsofsky can give the team the minutes they did against Ottawa and be consistent, the team can be successful on the back end.
As Patrice Bergeron always preaches “stick to and trust the system.” With that, these young defensemen will gain even more trust from their head coach, Claude Julien.