On December 8 in Boston, the Panthers handed the B's one of only three losses in December - a 2-0 Florida victory that featured 40 saves by Jose Theodore.
Then on December 23, again in the TD Garden, the B's gave their fans an early Christmas present with a 8-0 win over the Cats.
However, this morning in Florida, when the media asked B's Head Coach Claude Julien what he expected from the Panthers when the teams meet this evening, Julien almost angrily answered, "I don’t know what kind of game we can expect with them."
Instead, and after seeing his Bruins meander through the first six games of January at a 4-2 clip, Julien said he'd rather think about what kind of game his Bruins will bring with them to Sunrise's BankAntlantic Center.
"We have to be better," was the B's bench boss' simple statement from the TV studio adjacent to the visitors locker room.
"When you’re team isn’t playing like it should be, you like to focus on your team a lot more than what the other team’s going to do," he added.
In the B's room, captain Zdeno Chara
said Boston needed to be more prepared and "sharper."
"We knew last game wasn’t our best game," explained the defenseman. "So we need to bounce back tonight because we have only have a few games before the [All-Star] break and we want to make sure we play them the right way."
"Shaper" was also a word the Chara's coach used.
"Our battle level has to be better," continued Julien. "I think our passing and willingness to take pucks to the net and bearing down in all those areas.
"Basically, our whole game has slipped a little bit, not to the point of being a bad team, but being a very mediocre team right now and we got to bring it back to the level that’s expected of our group."
As far as the other group scheduled to take the ice here in Florida this evening, Chara explained that the B's (12-5-0 on the road) expects a tough tilt against the Panthers, who are 11-5-5 at home this season.
"They play a very hard style," said Chara. "We just have to be ready to do our thing and make sure we work extremely hard and don’t take anything for granted."
The blueliner's basic statement was as simple as his coach's.
"We just have to pay more attention to the details," said Chara, who also observed that the B's had lost too many battles against Carolina and other games this month.
"So we need to be better at that – making better passes, simple plays," said Chara. "Little things and details are always making a difference at the end."