Bruins Game 18 Preview: Florida Panthers

943527820.jpg

PHOTO CREDITS: (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj

Boston’s strong start of the 2019-2020 season has taken a recent downward spiral with the Bruins losing three consecutive games to the Montreal Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings, and Philadelphia Flyers (SO), bringing their record to a still-respectable 11-3-3. Two of the three losses have been by one goal and the loss to Detroit required an empty-net goal as well. Boston is fifth in the league standings with 25 points.

Following a big free-agent acquisition of goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, the Florida Panthers are having a decent start to the campaign. Florida has a 8-4-5 record and while the wins have not been coming early on, they have been able to earn at least a point in 13 of their 17 games played and have positioned themselves in the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Starting Goaltenders:

BOS: Tuukka Rask 7-2-1 1.99 GAA .933 SV% Last Game: 28 Saves in 4-2 loss vs DET

FLA: Sergei Bobrovsky (Likely) 6-3-4 3.39 GAA .884 SV% Last Game: 34 Saves in 2-1 loss vs NYI

Who’s Hot:

Aleksander Barkov has been the main superstar on the Panthers since he was drafted second-overall in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, accumulating 140-227-367 numbers in his 430 career NHL games. This season, Barkov has been on another level, scoring five goals and 17 assists for 22 points in 17 games – leading the Panthers in assists and points. The 24-year-old is also on a five-game point streak with four of those five games being two-point nights.

Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak are always on fire, even though the duo is combined for only two points in the last three games. Marchand scored in the last game against the Philadelphia Flyers, but Pastrnak was left off the score sheet. Pastrnak did have a secondary assist against the Red Wings that was later taken away due to a scoring change, ending his point streak at 15 games. Don’t expect these two to stay off the score sheet for much longer.

Jonathan Huberdeau has been with Florida since the 2011 NHL Entry Draft and with the emergence of Barkov, he too has seen point increases and has been one of the top players in the league. The 26-year-old forward has 9-12-21 totals in 17 games and is riding on a five-game point streak as well. Huberdeau leads the Panthers in goals with nine.

Who’s Not:

Fresh off his brand-new contract extension, defenceman Charlie McAvoy is still yet to break out in the ’19/’20 season so far and it may be time to wonder what is going on. McAvoy has 0-4-4 totals in the opening seventeen games this year, but has seen his defensive partners change throughout the game due to his struggles. McAvoy is still averaging 20+ minutes-per-game and now with Torey Krug out of the lineup for Tuesday’s game, Bruce Cassidy and the Bruins need McAvoy to step up in a big way.

For a player who is making $10 million per season until the 2025-26 season, Sergei Bobrovsky has not met the high expectations early on in the season. The 31-year-old netminder has a 6-3-4 record this season with a 3.39 goals-against-average and a .884 save percentage. Bobrovsky allowed five goals two games ago against the Capitals in an overtime loss and has not been at the level that earned him the large payday last summer.

Milestone Watch:

Boston Bruins:

  • F Brad Marchand is playing in his 699th career NHL regular-season game
  • F Patrice Bergeron is one power-play goal away (99) from 100 NHL power-play goals

Florida Panthers:

  • F Evgenii Dadonov is three assists away (97) from 100 career NHL assists
  • F Aleksander Barkov is two goals away (140) from tying Nathan Horton (142) for 5th-most goals in Panthers history
  • F Aleksander Barkov is two assists away (227) from tying Robert Svehla (229) for 4th-most assists in Panthers history

Bruins vs Panthers Outlook:

In the history of both franchises, the Boston Bruins have a combined record of 54-35-6-5 in 100 games against the Florida Panthers, including a 2-2-0 record in the 2018-19 season. Boston took a 7-3 win on March 23rd and a 4-3 win on March 7th from the Panthers while Florida won a 5-0 game on December 14th and a 4-1 game on March 30th.

As mentioned, the Bruins come into tonight’s game on a three-game losing streak – the longest of the new season and will look to end that streak tonight. Boston has been close to winning games against the Montreal Canadiens and the Philadelphia Flyers, but were unable to come away with the two points. It has not been just one thing that has caused the losses, but just a combination of injured players, slow starts, and mistakes that can be fixed.

For Florida, they are still looking to gain traction to become a more-dominate team in the Atlantic Division and even the Eastern Conference. If goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky can play like he did with the Columbus Blue Jackets at the end of last season and into the postseason, this Panthers team can be a true challenge for the other 30 franchises.

Boston still has the best power-play in the entire league, scoring at a 29.8% rate while on the man-advantage. Florida will look to compete against that with their 12th-best penalty-kill in the NHL, killing off 83% of the penalties they take. On the power-play, the Panthers have a 22.6% success rate – going against Boston’s 84.6% penalty-kill (9th in the NHL).

Head Coach Bruce Cassidy announced that defenceman Torey Krug will miss tonight’s game with an upper-body injury while Urho Vaakanainen comes in the lineup for his third NHL game as a replacement.

It is Military Appreciation Night in the TD Garden tonight. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00pm EST.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 153 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.