In the second game of a four game, East Coast road trip, the Bruins head into Miami to take on the surprising Florida Panthers. Despite leading their division with 50 points, just seven behind Boston, Florida has hit a bit of a rough patch following a red-hot start to the season. Winners of just three of their past 10 games, Florida coach Kevin Dineen resorted to splitting up the top line of Stephen Weiss, Tomas Fleischmann and former Boston draft pick Kris Versteeg in an effort to generate more offense.
This continued lack of offensive production bodes well for a Bruins team that is giving up an average of two goals per game over their last 10 games. With Boston’s goaltending tandem of Tuukka Rask and Tim Thomas topping all meaningful statistical categories, the Bruins seem to be hitting the Panthers at an opportune time. On the flip side, Scott Clemmensen will likely be in net tonight for Florida, who gave up four goals to the Bruins in two periods of play.
In a testament to the amazingly consistent play this season, Boston is looking to avoid just their second losing streak (at least two in a row) since the start of November. Coincidently, the team responsible for the only other losing streak over that time period was the Florida Panthers, who beat Boston 2-0 on December 8.
Boston will again be without Brad Marchand, who is continuing to serve his suspension for taking out Sami Salo last weekend. With Thomas getting the start in the previous two games, look for Rask to potentially get the start tonight as the almost interchangeable 1a and 1b goaltending continues to power the team.
* Update: 6:43 p.m. EST - As noted in the comment section, Rich Peverley is out of tonight's game for personal reasons, but he is scheduled to rejoin the team Thursday night in New Jersey. Zach Hamill will be slotted into his position on the third line with Kelly and Caron.
Panthers SB Nation Site: Litter Box Cats
Boston Bruins at Florida Panthers, 7:30 p.m. EST TV: NESN
Public Skate will be open at 7 p.m. EST