FLORIDA PANTHERS: 21-25-7 (49 PTS.) vs. TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS: 28-21-6 (62 PTS.)
GAME DAY SONG: The hauntingly perfect Point Blank from 1978, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
After a thrilling and emotional come from behind victory in Detroit on Sunday, the Florida Panthers got beaned in Boston Tuesday night by a score of 6-2. While the Panthers have had some real character wins this season, it’s difficult to come back from a 4 goal deficit especially against a team like the Boston Bruins. The Panthers weren’t in the game from the beginning, as the Bruins were all over them putting 19 shots on goal in the opening period. If not for Tim Thomas, it could have been over in the first 20 minutes.
Slow starts and the excuses for them are beginning to get old, but let’s put that into perspective. The Panthers have given up the first goal of the game in 33 of 53 games. Despite the fact that they’ve managed some comebacks, their record is 8-21-4 when the opposition scores first. That right there will be the biggest factor keeping Florida out of the post season, which as we know is a pipe dream anyway, but at one point there was some hope. Let’s be brutaly honest, it appears now that any chance has all but faded.
Let’s admit as well that Boston is one of the elite teams in the East, and very difficult to play against. However when you sit both Erik Gudbranson and Krys Barch two of your most physical players, you don’t stand much of a chance to compete with a team like the Bruins who are known for being nasty, as well as skilled. Understanding the decision to keep those players out of Tuesday’s game isn’t easy. Which again points to the fact that the Panthers must be more physical overall, otherwise teams will continue to push them around.