PANTHERS (21-24-7) at BRUINS (33-15-3)
7:00 PM ET; TV: FOX Sports Network; RADIO: 560 AM
Last 10: Florida 5-4-1; Boston 6-3-1
TIMMY’S RETURN: It will be a big homecoming game for Tim Thomas. The Panthers goaltender crafted his career in the very building Florida will travel to on Tuesday, for the opposing team no less. The former Bruin, Thomas reached legendary status while playing out of TD Garden and even helped the team win a Stanley Cup in 2011 (although that was won in Vancouver in Game 7). The Panthers have already made a trip up to B-Town this season, falling to the Bruins 4-1 however backup goalie, Scott Clemmensen, got the start in that game. Tuesday will be emotional for Thomas, as he will finally face his former team in his former home arena.
A HELPING HAND: When it comes to help, Tom Gilbert is your man. The defenseman leads Florida with 24 points this season, all but two coming from assists. These past three games treated Gilbert well, as he carded a pair of assists in games versus Buffalo last Tuesday, Colorado on Friday and Detroit on Sunday. Overtime against the Red Wings on Sunday saw Gilbert help out in a different way stopping a sure Detroit game winner after Thomas made two stops seconds prior.
3’S A CHARM: The Panthers give you a reason to forgo a bathroom break and stay in your seat for the whole period. Florida has scored three goals in a single period in four of their last seven games, showing that opponents must always be on the lookout for a Panther attack. Sticking to your seat until the final whistle became even more evident on Sunday when the Panthers were down 3-1 in Detroit heading into the third but rallied back with three goals in the final period to force overtime.
ATOP THE ATLANTIC: The Panthers will have their work cut out for them as they head to Boston looking for their first win of the season series. The Bruins sit first in the Atlantic division and may play for the Conference title come springtime. Boston is led by a solid defense that may trouble the Panthers led by big 6’9 captain Zdeno Chara and netminder Tuukka Rask, though the Bruins have not had a great January in comparison to the rest of their season and Tuesday might be the Panthers opportunity to pounce on the division leader after they play Monday night on Long Island.
ON THE ROAD: Road trips seem to suit the Panthers pretty well as they have won three straight games away from the BB&T Center and are 10-5-1 on the road since mid-November. Florida does not seem to be too intimidated by the 7th man factor while playing away, though TD Garden is known for having some of the best, and most ravenous, fans in the NHL. After handling the crowds in Pittsburgh, Buffalo and Detroit, Florida should be prepared for whatever Bostonians throw at them.