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Preview: Here comes Florida

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The Panthers limp into town, and things aren’t going well for them.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-New York Islanders at Florida Panthers Robert Duyos-USA TODAY Sports

Just the facts

When: Tonight, 7 PM

Where: TD Garden - Boston, MA

How to follow: NESN, 98.5 The Sports Hub

Rival SBN site: Litter Box Cats

Know your enemy

  • 28-26-12, 68 PTS, 6th in the Atlantic Division
  • Aleksander Barkov: 28G-40A-68PTS; Jonathan Huberdeau: 18G-47A-65PTS; Mike Hoffman: 30G-29A-59PTS
  • Roberto Luongo: 14-14-4, 3.14 GAA, .898 save percentage

Game notes

  • It hasn’t been a pretty season for the Florida Panthers, as a team some predicted to be a dark horse in the Atlantic Division has had trouble with consistency all year long. They’re not a straight-up bad team, but haven’t been able to put things together. They were hanging around the fringes of a Wild Card spot for a while, but a recent 4-2-4 stretch when you need all the points you can get has probably put an end to that.
  • The Panthers come into tonight having lost five games in a row, but four of those have come in overtime or the shootout. Their last time out was a 3-2 loss to the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Tuesday night.
  • Speaking of losses, the Panthers’ only regulation loss during that five-game skid came to the Ottawa Senators, which isn’t ideal, as Ottawa is the worst team in the league. I say that now, so we all know what’s going to happen when they visit the Garden Saturday night. I’m sorry.
  • Roberto Luongo has been getting the lion’s share of action in goal for Florida lately, as James Reimer has been out injured for a week or so. No word yet on whether or not he’ll be ready tomorrow, so it’s probably safe to bet on seeing Luongo again.
  • While the Panthers aren’t a great team, that doesn’t mean they don’t have high-end skill. Aleksander Barkov is one of the league’s most underrated stars, and Mike Hoffman is a pure goal-scorer. This team has deficiencies, but scoring talent up front probably isn’t one of them.
  • Speaking of scoring talent, former Bruin Frank Vatrano is 6th on the Panthers in scoring. He’s got 20 goals and 14 assists, and recently signed a 3-year, $7.59 million extension.
  • For the Bruins, no word yet (as of Wednesday night) who will slot in for the injured Marcus Johansson. It doesn’t appear that David Pastrnak is ready yet, so it may be Karson Kuhlman, or may be another call-up.
  • With Jaroslav Halak starting on Tuesday night, I’d expect Tuukka Rask go to tonight. But who knows? Bruce Cassidy is a man of mystery.

See ya tonight!