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Need to Know: Bruins at Panthers

Boston looking to make it four straight wins as they close out Florida swing

by Eric Russo @erusso22 / BostonBruins.com

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. - Fresh off their big 2-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Bruins returned to the ice on Wednesday afternoon for a quick twirl ahead of another divisional matchup on Thursday against the Florida Panthers.

"Today was more about just getting the guys on the ice for a quick 20 minutes, let them enjoy some sunshine," Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said following the session at the Panthers' practice facility. "I think it's good for the body and soul. They'll do that and we'll get ready for Florida.

"For the most part, we liked our game last night - the checking part of it, the defending, the blocking shots, the willingness to keep the puck out of our net."

Brad Marchand stayed away from the team on Wednesday as he continues to recover from food poisoning, which limited him in Tuesday's victory over Tampa.

"Marchy was OK," said Cassidy. "We just felt that it was better to keep him away from the rink today. Hopefully he's closer to 100 percent tomorrow."

Cassidy went on to say he does not anticipate any changes to his lineup against the Panthers, with the exception of Jaroslav Halak getting the nod between the pipes.

Video: Cassidy talks to media after Wednesday practice

Showing Some Fight

It has not been the smoothest of campaigns for Joakim Nordstrom, who has been in and out of the lineup this season because of injuries, illness, and some inconsistency. But over the last two games, the winger has shown that he'd like to reclaim, for good, his spot as the stretch run intensifies.

After delivering three hits and three blocked shots in his return to the lineup as the fourth-line right wing on Saturday against the Islanders, Nordstrom showed some more fight in Boston's win over Tampa, dropping the gloves with Yanni Gourde after a scrum in front of the B's net in the final seconds of the second period.

"Well, I'm not yelling at him anymore. He'll beat the tar out of me. I didn't know he had that in him," Cassidy said with a chuckle. "Listen, he's trying to fight his way back into the lineup and play a consistent role. For a guy that's kind of a secondary guy, that's a shot blocker, penalty killer, known for all the things that don't necessarily show up on the scoresheet, it's tough some nights.

"He did a real good job the last few games trying to inject himself and his energy into the game and defend the front of our net, turned into a scrap yesterday. Did his job along the walls, those dirty areas of the game. Hopefully he gets some puck luck around the net and provides a little offense for us."

Come Together

Boston's new-look second line of Nick Ritchie, David Krejci, and Ondrej Kase has been a work in progress. Three games into the trio's time together, they have yet to finish any of their chances, though Cassidy has been encouraged by their progress.

"They're not finishing much right now, I think their pace has to pick up a little bit and that might come with time," said Cassidy. "David's gonna drive that line, the centerman typically is. I think when he's on his game, making plays, playing with pace, that line will look a lot better.

"I thought they had some opportunities around the front of the net yesterday…I think they're coming, I really do. I think they had some other opportunities, a 3-on-2, one of their D laid out and made a nice play when Krech was trying to find Kase. They're there, they're just not quite connecting."

Opposing View

The Panthers are battling for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, as they sit 5 points back of Toronto for third place in the Atlantic Division and 5 points behind Columbus and the New York Islanders for one of the East's Wild Card positions.

Florida, with a 3-6-1 record over its last 10 games, is paced offensively by Jonathan Huberdeau, who leads the team with 77 points (22 goals, 55 assists) in 66 games. Old friend Noel Acciari, who signed with the Panthers last July 1, has potted a career-high 20 goals, placing him fourth on the team. Fellow former Bruin Frank Vatrano has 16 goals and 33 points in 66 games.

"O-zone puck possession, we know they like to get going the other way," Cassidy said of the Panthers. "The strength of their team is scoring. I can't comment on what their game plan is tomorrow, but they typically want to outscore teams. That's the way their built. They got wingers that put the puck in the net.

"We have to force them to defend in their own end, defend the slot. And the same the other way. Our rush defense has to be good. Our high forward has to make good reads so that we can kill plays at the blue line."

Wednesday's Practice Lineup

FORWARDS

Anders Bjork/Anton Blidh - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak

Nick Ritchie - David Krejci - Ondrej Kase

Jake DeBrusk - Charlie Coyle - Chris Wagner/Karson Kuhlman

Sean Kuraly - Par Lindholm - Joakim Nordstrom

DEFENSEMEN

Zdeno Chara - Charlie McAvoy

Torey Krug - Brandon Carlo

Matt Grzelcyk - Jeremy Lauzon

John Moore - Connor Clifton

GOALIES

Tuukka Rask

Jaroslav Halak

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