Game Day Preview: Bruins at Panthers
Facing their most difficult stretch of the season, the Boston Bruins took three out of a possible four points from the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks and the league leading Washington Capitals over the past week. It will not get any easier as they now have to face the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning in back-to-back nights.
The Bruins are coming off a tough overtime loss to the Capitals Saturday night where missed opportunities came back to haunt them. Kevan Miller left Saturday’s game after taking a vicious hit from behind from Alex Ovechkin and has been deemed day-to-day, but did not travel with the team.
The B’s have won both meetings against the Panthers this season by a score of 3-1 most recently on December 12th in Boston where Ryan Spooner netted two goals.
Gametime: 7:30 p.m.
Records: Bruins 36-23-7 (79 points), Panthers 36-21-8 (80 points)
TV/Radio: NESN, 98.5 The Sports Hub
Location: BB & T Center
Bruins projected lines
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Lee Stempniak
Matt Beleskey-David Krejci-David Pastrnak
Loui Eriksson-Ryan Spooner-Jimmy Hayes
Landon Ferraro-Noel Acciari-Brett Connolly
Zdeno Chara-Adam McQuaid
Torey Krug-Dennis Seidenberg
John-Michael Liles-Joe Morrow
Panthers projected lines
Kyle Rau-Aleksander Barkov-Jaromir Jagr
Jussi Jokinen-Vincent Trocheck-Reilly Smith
Teddy Purcell-Nick Bjugstad-Jiri Hudler
Garrett Wilson-Quinton Howden-Logan Shaw
Dmitry Kulikov-Aaron Ekblad
Brian Campbell-Erik Gudbranson
Jakub Kindl-Alex Petrovic
Matchup to watch: Jaromir Jagr vs. a thin B’s blue line
Jagr may only have one goal in his last five games, but he is banging on the door of passing Gordie Howe for third on the NHL’s all-time scoring list. He would love to get that out of the way at home against a former team of his. Boston doesn’t exactly have the best defensive core and with Kevan Miller out, it is even thinner than it was to start the season.
The 44-year-old is one of the smartest players in the league and by having a stint in Boston knows some of their tendencies on the back end. But, the Black and Gold did a very nice job on Patrick Kane and Alex Ovechkin over the past two games. We’ll see if their defensive progress continues against one of the all-time greats.
Storyline to watch: Who will step up on the blue line?
It’s no secret the B’s defense has been a problem all season long. Miller hasn’t been the greatest player for Claude Julien this year, but he was starting to show signs of life being paired with Zdeno Chara.
Now with Miller out, the B’s will need to pick up the slack and play more physical because that is an intangible that Miller does bring to the table. He isn’t afraid to throw his weight around or drop the gloves.
Guys like Chara and Adam McQuaid will need to play flawless games while Dennis Seidenberg and Torey Krug need to follow suit. Joe Morrow and Zach Trotman have shown glimpses of potential over the course of the season, and one of those defensemen will be joining the lineup tonight. John-Michael Liles has been a breath of fresh air since being acquired at the trade deadline, but he’ll need to be that much better with two pivotal points on the line in South Florida.