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  • Game Day Preview: Panthers at Bruins

    Game Day Previews

    Game Day Preview: Panthers at Bruins

    Tim Rosenthal March 24, 2016

    The Bruins playoff chances aren’t at code red quite yet, but the level of concern about another missed postseason in The Hub is rising following their first four-game losing streak of the season. On a frustrating night, the Black and Gold were out of sync and the victim of puck luck in their 5-2 loss to the Rangers less than 24 hours ago.

    Like the Bruins, the Panthers come into TD Garden with some recent baggage. Despite making a few notable transactions at the trade deadline, the Panthers, who sit three points ahead of the B’s in the Atlantic Division, are just 4-5-1 in their last 10 games.

    By the end of Thursday’s schedule, the Bruins could write the wrongs and pull within a point of the Panthers and Lightning atop the Atlantic. Or, worst case scenario — which would really cause Bruins fans to hit the panic button — they’ll sit a point ahead of the Red Wings and Flyers, both of whom are currently battling for the final wild card spot in the East.

    Gametime: 7:00 p.m.
    TV/Radio: NESN/98.5 The Sports Hub
    Records: Bruins 39-27-8 (86 points), Panthers 40-24-9 (89 points)
    Location: TD Garden

    Bruins projected lines

    Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Lee Stempniak
    Frank Vatrano-David Krejci-Loui Eriksson
    Matt Beleskey-Ryan Spooner-David Pastrnak
    Landon Ferraro-Noel Acciari-Jimmy Hayes

    Zdeno Chara-Kevan Miller
    Torey Krug-Adam McQuaid
    Dennis Seidenberg-John-Michael Liles

    Tuukka Rask
    Jonas Gustavsson

    Panthers projected lines

    Jonathan Huberdeau-Aleksander Barkov-Jaromir Jagr
    Jussi Jokinen-Vincent Trocheck-Reilly Smith
    Teddy Purcell-Nick Bjudgstad-Jiri Hudler
    Garrett Wilson-Logan Shaw-Shawn Thornton

    Dmitry Kulikov-Aaron Ekblad
    Brian Campbell-Alex Petrovic
    Jakub Kindl-Steve Kampfer

    Roberto Luongo
    Al Montoya

    Matchup to watch: Reilly Smith vs. Bruins D

    Panthers at Bruins

    Reilly Smith is having a breakthrough year during his first season with the Panthers. (Photo by Joe Makarski, Bruins Daily)

    At the time, the Reilly Smith for Jimmy Hayes swap — that also included Marc Savard’s contract — seemed like a good trade for both teams. Smith, who struggled with inconsistencies in his second season with the Black and Gold, was getting a fresh start, while Hayes, who posted career bests in goals (19) assists (16) and points (35) in 2014-15, would realize his dream of playing for his hometown team.

    Less than a year later, it’s pretty clear to see that Panthers GM Dale Tallon got the better of the July 1st trade.

    Through 73 games, Smith, who came over from Dallas in the Tyler Seguin trade, has already notched a career-high in goals (23) and shots (153). The former Miami (Ohio) product has two points in three games against his former team this season.

    For an inconsistent blueline, the Bruins will have their hands full as the Panthers possess solid depth on all four lines. Stopping Smith will be key if they want to get a much-needed two points.

    Storyline to watch: Which team ends their slump

    Bruins at Panthers

    Both the Panthers (4-5-1 in their last 10) and the Bruins (losers of four straight) look to break out of their respective slumps. (Photo by Joe Makarski, Bruins Daily)

    The Bruins have beaten the Panthers in all three meetings this season, but it hasn’t been easy. Even in the last game where they held 3-0 and 4-1 leads, the Bruins couldn’t close out the deal in regulation as the Panthers came back to tie it. Lee Stepmniak, however, gave his team a sigh of relief with the overtime winner — his first goal as a member of the Black and Gold.

    Both of these teams enter tonight’s game suffering from one of their worst slumps of the season. One game will not completely exonerate either team from their struggles. But it can serve as a steppingstone with less than 10 games left in their respective regular seasons.

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    Tim Rosenthal

    Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.


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