Panthers continue to roll, smash Bruins 6-2
With the standings in the Eastern Conference as tight as they are, and with the Washington Capitals continuing to win, the Florida Panthers need to continue collecting points to stay not only at the top of their division but in the overall playoff race. With the Boston Bruins struggling, Florida had a great chance to pick up a very important two points at home, and they did just that, smashing the Bruins 6-2 and pulling within two points of the Bruins in the East. Six different goal scorers showed up on the scoresheet for Florida, who turned in a fantastic and complete effort on both ends of the ice. This win had to feel very good for the Panthers, who were the recipients of an 8-0 beatdown in Boston earlier this season. The Panthers have a tough matchup against the Buffalo Sabres coming at home on Saturday, but you can be sure the team is going to celebrate this win tomorrow before getting back to work. They definitely deserve it.
Additional coverage at Stanley Cup of Chowder and SB Nation Florida
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- Mikael Samuelsson (10) PP 17:57, assisted by Brian Campbell and Stephen Weiss2nd
- Marcel Goc (10) 0:38, assisted by Brian Campbell and Mikael Samuelsson
- Joe Corvo (4) 4:53, assisted by Benoit Pouliot and Brian Rolston
- Stephen Weiss (17) 6:32, assisted by Tomas Fleischmann and Brian Campbell
- John Madden (1) 15:27, assisted by Jerred Smithson and Krys Barch3rd
- Brian Rolston (5) PP 1:44, assisted by Zdeno Chara
- Tomas Kopecky (8) 7:51, unassisted
- Wojtek Wolski (3) 17:24, assisted by Tomas Fleischmann and Jason Garrison
- A lot of fans like to ride the bandwagon when their team is successful. This season, Panthers fans are going to be riding the #WeaverWagon to the postseason. Weaver again had a great game despite getting cut across the nose and having to fill a nostril with gauze thanks to a high elbow from Gregory Campbell. Is there anyone on the Panthers roster that is more consistent than Weaver? That was rhetorical, duh.
- Brian Campbell had a pretty physical game for the Panthers, something fans aren't quite used to from him. Campbell isn't known for throwing the body around recklessly all night, but he has made some seriously big hits over the course of his career (see here, here and my personal favorite here, thanks to Rick Jeanneret for one of the best calls ever). Tonight he decided to throw an old-fashioned hip check at Brad Marchand, who took exception. Ironically, Marchand was suspended this year for going low on Montreal Canadiens defenseman Alexei Emelin, getting called for a clip while trying to throw what looked to be a hip check. Campbell's hit was much more legal than the hit that earned Marchand five games off, however.
- The Goc-Bergenheim-Samuelsson line has given the Panthers the secondary scoring they've been looking for all season. However, they've become the primary scoring line as of late, and when Kris Versteeg returns the hope is that the top line will resume scoring at a regular clip and give the Cats two lines of offensive talent. Let's give some real credit to what Dale Tallon did at the deadline too, as Wojtek Wolski has been and will be a part of one of those lines.
- Florida did a fantastic job getting traffic and bodies in front of Thomas. He had no chance to see the first goal and had to deal with traffic at the top of his crease for almost every other goal. Meanwhile, Florida did a pretty good job keeping Boston's big boys away from Theodore and his crease. It helped that Theo played aggressively and was outside his crease cutting down angles like a champ.
- All four of the Panther lines were effective while they were on the ice and that's the first time we've seen that in a LONG time. The top line contributed, the fourth line knocked one in, and everyone in between seemingly had their chances or showed up on the scoreboard. If, and it's a big if, the Panthers can keep four lines contributing with quality scoring chances, this team will again start to resemble the high-scoring squad we saw for the first 30 games of the season. Props to the Cats fourth line of Smithson, Barch and Madden for their best game of the year.
- It's just not talked about enough, so I'm going to talk about it. Sean Bergenheim is an animal. He skates so hard, hits hard, shoots hard, and never ever gives up on plays. His engine is revved at all times and he is a true threat to score every time he's on the ice. Had he been healthy for the full season, he likely would've had 20 goals or more. All the talk of him being a one-hit wonder after his memorable postseason performance with Tampa Bay last year should now disappear.
- As good as the Panthers were in this game, Boston was uncharacteristically as bad. Sloppy passing, bad turnovers and lack of skating made them seem tired and unmotivated. The Bruins are stil considered Stanley Cup favorites this year, but if they don't turn things around in the next few weeks, they might be out of it early.
Kevin Dineen, Craig Ramsay and Gord Murphy. They have these guys focused and ready to play ever since the blowout loss in Philly. They're playing simple, smart, and calm hockey and they're on a three-game winning streak because of it.
None. It was a fantastic team effort all around.
A late season matchup between Buffalo and Florida use to be a pretty meaningless game, but not this year. Seemingly risen from the dead, the Buffalo Sabres are back in the hunt for the final seed in the Eastern Conference, and are not too far back from Florida in the standings, currently sitting six points back as of this article being published. The Sabres will be in Sunrise on Saturday and the Cats will need to keep up the fantastic efforts they've exhibited since the shootout loss to Pittsburgh, because Buffalo is playing great as of late.