Six games on the Tuesday NHL hockey schedule and right at the top of the betting board we’ll look at Game 19/20 as the Florida Panthers head to Boston to take on the Bruins at the TD Garden. The Panthers are starting to find some traction and develop an identity after an uneven start to the Joel Quenneville regime in South Florida. Florida is up to fourth place in the tightly packed Atlantic Division and are now just 4 back of the first place Bruins with 21 points. They’re 6-2-2 in their last 10 games and come in off a wild 6-5 win over the New York Rangers on Sunday.
After starting the season with one regulation loss in their first 14 games the Boston Bruins are mired in a mini-slump having lost three straight going 0-2-1. They did show some positive signs on Sunday against the Philadelphia Flyers, coming back from a 2-0 deficit in the third period to tie the game and send it to overtime. The Flyers would eventually prevail in the shootout but the Bruins did get their first point during their downturn.
Boston is suffering from a rash of injuries at the moment with defenseman Torey Krug the latest to be sidelined. Krug suffered an upper body injury during the Bruins’ loss to Philadelphia and did not practice on Monday. Head coach Bruce Cassidy didn’t say much about the nature of the injury but he did note that Krug could be back this weekend which suggests it isn’t particularly serious. The Bruins recalled Urho Vaakanainen from AHL Providence in the meantime. Also injured and out for Tuesday’s game are forwards Jake DeBrusk, Brett Ritchie and David Backes. The most alarming thing about the loss at Philadelphia was the Flyers limiting Boston to just 10 shots on goal through two periods.
Sergei Bobrovsky will get the start for Florida here and he’s still looking to find some consistent form after a erratic start to the season. Bobrovsky has shown a tedency to struggle in the early going throughout his career so no one is hitting the panic button yet. He looked sharp in his previous start, a 2-1 loss to the red hot Islanders. Two games earlier, the got his first shutout of the season in a 4-0 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. On the year, Bobrovsky is 6-3-4 with a 3.39 goals against average and a 0.884 save percentage.
Boston will go with Tuuka Rask who has played like a Vezina Trophy candidate early on. Rask has a 1.99 goals against average and a .933 save percentage to go along with a 7-2-1 record. Rask is on a personal two game losing streak having been between the pipes for last Tuesday’s 5-4 loss at Montreal as well as Friday’s 4-2 loss at Detroit. Earlier this year, Rask was alternating starts with backup Jaroslav Halak but during the past couple of weeks the rotation has been two starts for Rask for every time Halak gets the nod. Halak has played well this season with a 4-1-2 record and a 2.67 goals against average.
Panthers and Bruins split 4 games last year with each team winning once on the road. Panthers have won 5 of the last 8 head to head and have split the last four at the TD Garden. Given Boston’s current struggles the price looks a big chalky on the home team and thus we’ll take a shot on the resurgent Panthers.