The Boston Bruins travel to the Sunshine State Monday and Tuesday for a pair of huge games against the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning, with crucial playoff implications on the line. The Bruins currently sit three points behind first-place Tampa Bay and one point behind second-place Florida.
The Panthers are one of the NHL’s surprise teams so far this season, as no one really expected them to reach the playoffs. At 36-21-8 for 80 points, only a collapse of epic proportions would see the Panthers fall out of a playoff spot. That said, the Panthers have dropped four of their last five and would love to right the ship on Monday night against the team directly behind them in the standings.
Czech superstar and 44-year-old Jaromir Jagr is the leading scorer for the Panthers, leading the team with 21 goals and 48 points on the season. Jagr tied Gordie Howe for third all-time with 1,850 NHL points with an assist in a 3-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche last week and can move into sole possession on Monday against the Bruins.
The Bruins have won both previous matchups against the Panthers this season by 3-1 scores on October 30 and December 12.
The Lightning, like the Bruins, will be coming off a game the night before when they host Boston on Tuesday night. Tampa Bay will have a much longer trip to get home than the Bruins, as the B’s will be going from one coast of Florida to the other, but Tampa Bay will be flying back to the Sunshine State from Philadelphia following a matchup with the Flyers.
As of Monday afternoon, the Lightning’s leading scorer is surprising not named Stamkos. Nikita Kucherov, with 25 goals and 28 assists, leads the team with 53 points, while star forward Steven Stamkos leads the team with 29 goals. The 60-goal scorer from 2011-2012 is definitely not having his best season, but his team still sits in first place, a testament to the entire Tampa Bay team. On the season, Tampa Bay has taken two of three from the Bruins, with Tuesday’s matchup the last time the teams will meet until potentially in the playoffs.
The Bruins will return to Boston after the Florida Swing on Thursday night to host the Carolina Hurricanes. Tickets for that game are still available HERE.
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