Across Enemy Lines
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The Panthers have also begun to fall back to earth a bit after a terrific start of the season. Through the first 33 games, the Panthers were an impressive 18-9-6. In their last 10 games they gone 3-5-2. That’s dropped them to 2nd in the Southeast division and 7th in the conference, even though they have the same amount of points as the Washington Capitals, the lose the tie breaker. That also leaves them just 1 point up on the 9th place Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Panthers are top heavy when it comes to scoring. Their first line of Kris Versteeg (39), Thomas Fleischmann (34), and Stephen Weiss (33) lead the team in scoring. rounding out their top 5 scorers are two defensemen, Brian Campbell (33) and Dmitri Kulikov (21). After the top line, the next closest scorer is Thomas Kopecky with 17 points! The Panthers clearly lack scoring depth and will need some of their other players to step and start chipping in more. Players like Sean Bergenheim (groin) and Marco Sturm (concussion) must get healthy and be productive for the Panthers to stay in the hunt.
The Bruins have played the Panthers twice so far this season, both in Boston. The first game was a 2-0 shutout back on December 8th. Jose Theodore stopped all 40 of Boston’s shots, while Tim Thomas held the Panthers scoreless until 2:32 left in the third period when Thomas Kopecky put a wrist shot past Thomas. Kris Versteeg added and empty net goal to seal it.
Two weeks later it was a different story as the Bruins embarrassed the Panthers 8-0 on the 23rd of December. Tuukka Rask got the start in net and turned aside all 31 shots for the shutout. This game featured Brad Marchand’s first career hat-trick, and the Bruins scoring 4 first-period goals on the way to victory.
Not sure which Bruins team will show up tonight. They usually respond after lackluster performances like the other night in Carolina, but on the other hand, they seem to be in a funk. Already without Brad Marchand and now Rich Peverley, it will take a complete team effort tonight. I have an overtime feeling tonight, maybe even a shootout. Stay tuned to twitter and Causeway Crowd during and after the game for complete coverage.