And just like that it’s April.
Surely, if you asked any Bruins player, coach or fan when the season started exactly six months ago, this isn’t the positioning they imagined or wanted to be in. In a three-way tie with the Montreal Canadiens and Philadelphia Flyers for the six through eight seeds with six games to play, the B’s could find themselves in sole possession of a pivotal sixth seed for the time being with a victory tonight (along with a little help from the New York Islanders).
Making their final stop to the TD Garden this season, and with their season essentially over and eliminated from playoff contention, the Florida Panthers come in Boston winning just three out of their last ten contests.
Despite their struggles, the contests this season between the Panthers and Bruins have anything but a cakewalk for the Bruins, with all three contests being determined by one goal, two of which going to the shootout. No stranger to the shootout in 2009-10, the Bruins once again look to Tuukka Rask to lead the way tonight after his 21-save overtime shutout of the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday.
In Rask’s only start this season against the Panthers, the Finnish rookie held the Panthers to two goals on 28 shots and stopped six of eight Florida shooters in the Bruins 3-2 shootout victory.
While this game is an obvious must-win for the Boston Bruins, an interesting factoid to note tonight presents itself with the Panthers sitting just three points behind the Maple Leafs for last in the Eastern Conference. That being said, with the B’s possessing the Leafs’ first round pick in this year’s upcoming draft, the best case scenario for Boston may in fact be another shootout win over the Panthers.
YouTube Video of the Game
In the last time these two clubs got together, Rask and Tomas Vokoun squared off in a great shootout duel with Mark Recchi getting the eventual winner for the B’s.
Players to Watch & Stats to Note
* David Krejci has eight points in his last five games.
* B’s winger Michael Ryder has one goal in his last 17 games.
* Marco Sturm has 19 points in 25 career games against Florida.
* Stephen Weiss has four points in his last three games, finishing March with ten points in 15 games.
* Former Bruins forward Byron Bitz will be playing his first game against Boston since being traded to Florida in the Dennis Seidenberg deal.
On the Links
HubHockey fool a few with their April Fool’s piece on Mark Recchi retiring.
Blake Wheeler talks about potential playoff opponents on 98.5 The Sports Hub (hint hint, they don’t want Washington).
The Bruins Blog dishes on the injury statuses of Marc Savard and Andrew Ference.
Boston Sports Then & Now gives a breakdown of Recchi’s selflessness.
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About the Author: Ty Anderson ran the Chronicles From The Garden blogspot account during the 2008-09 NHL season before joining HockeyIndependent as the Bruins Blogger. He is a Seinfeld enthusiast, self-admitted Star Wars nerd, Vezina-quality street-hockey goaltender, and can be found in Balcony 314 of every Bruins home game. Follow him and his tweeting madness on Twitter at http://Twitter.com/_TyAnderson or send him an e-mail at TAndersonBruins@gmail.com.