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PREVIEW: Bruins host Panthers in matinee tilt

This game has big implications for both teams - Boston would like to regain the East lead, while the Panthers need to scratch their way into a playoff spot.

NHL: Florida Panthers at Boston Bruins
Backes came back. Grzelcyk came back. Anybody else joining in?
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Just the Facts

When: 1:00 PM

Where: TD Garden, Boston, MA

How to watch: SN, NESN, FS-F

Rival SBN site: Litter Box Cats

Know your Enemy

  • Aleksander Barkov - 26G-49A-75PTS; Vincent Trocheck - 30G-40A-70PTS; Jonathan Huberdeau - 25G-42A-67PTS
  • Roberto Luongo - 2.60 GAA, .926 Sv%; James Reimer - 2.92 GAA, .914 Sv%

Game notes

  • The playoff bug has bitten Boston, so look for some heavy games while they prepare to compete for the ultimate prize.
  • This is the 77th game for both teams, leaving them both with a game (or two) in hand over the rest of the East. With just five to go, there should be no wasted chances for points in the standings.
  • The Tampa Bay Lightning leapfrogged Boston last night, beating the New York Rangers to retake the East. Try not to look too far ahead to Tuesday - the Bruins don’t have to beat Tampa again today to reclaim first. We’re in the playoffs and first in the East doesn’t guarantee anything after the 82nd game.
  • The Bruins are getting healthier - Zdeno Chara, Charlie McAvoy, and Jake DeBrusk are close to returning, and the team’s official Twitter suggested Thursday that all three have the chance to return this weekend. It COULD be today, but we’ll keep you posted.
  • If you ignore the two losses by Florida (one in OT) in their last two games, they had been 7-3-0 in the preceding ten games. They’re no slouches, and are highly motivated to make the playoffs. Frank Vatrano would probably like to get some retribution for his limited role in Boston; and, let’s not forget Roberto Luongo. Who’s going to pump his tires this afternoon?

NEVER FORGET:

A throttling from 2011 should get us good and excited!