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Ice Breakers: Bruins-Panthers, Thursday April 1

Just a half dozen games remain for the Bruins (35-29-12), and this last leg of the regular season begins tonight on Causeway Street, when the Black and Gold play host to the fading Florida Panthers (30-34-12).

On the positive side, Boston finds themselves in a tie for sixth place in the East, alongside Philadelphia and Montreal. With a win tonight, the B’s could own that sixth spot all to themselves. On the negative side though, they do remain just two points ahead of Atlanta, who sits in ninth place and outside the playoff picture. Florida on the other hand, losers of four straight, has slumped their way down to a tie for 13th in the East and virtually out of playoff contention altogether. Their focus now is to stay out of the East’s cellar, as they are just three points up on last place Toronto.

Time to dive in and check out some game notes, before tonight’s very important skate at the Garden…

  • All four of the games played between Boston and New Jersey this season, Tuesday’s opponent, were decided by one goal. The same can be said for the three previous games played between the B’s and Panthers. Boston lost a 1-0 game early in the year to Florida, but has followed it up with 2-1 and 3-2 wins.
  • Boston will be looking to reverse a disturbing home ice trend, as they are in the midst of a dreadful 3-10-3 slump at TD Garden. They are the only team currently in the league’s top 16 teams that has a losing record on home ice.
  • The B’s were able to sign four of their farm hands yesterday, inking former first-rounders Joe Colborne and Jordan Caron to three-year deals, while also locking up Michael Hutchinson and Steve Kampfer. Colborne and Kampfer will report to Providence to help the Baby B’s down the stretch run.
  • Florida is coming off an ugly 6-2 loss in Buffalo last night that saw them get out-shot 41-15, including 20-2 in the second period. In their last five games, the Panthers are averaging just 1.6 goals per game.
  • Tonight’s game will feature at least one player going against his former team, but one might be it. Dennis Seidenberg, acquired from Florida on trade deadline day, will lace them up and skate against his former teammates tonight, but former Bruin Byron Bitz, out the last two games with an elbow injury, is listed as questionable for tonight’s tilt.
  • We will see Tuukka Rask in net tonight for Boston, riding a 9-4-0 streak with a 1.88GAA during that stretch since February 7th. On the other side of the ice, it has yet to be determined whether Florida will start struggling Tomas Vokoun (23-27-11, 2.51GAA) or Scott Clemmensen (7-6-1, 3.22GAA). Vokoun is 0-5-1 with a 4.21GAA in his last six starts, with Clemmensen riding a slightly hotter hand, going 2-0-1 in his last four appearances.
  • Florida’s scoring is led by centers Stephen Weiss (27G, 31A) and Nathan Horton (18G, 33A), followed by captain Bryan McCabe (8G, 33A). Their power play is dead last in the NHL, at 14.7%.

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