The Vegas Golden Knights and Florida Panthers meet for a dance in Sunrise on Thursday night at BB&T Arena. It should provide an entertaining matchup between two teams on the bubble. Both could get into the playoffs, or it’s quite possible that neither get enough points to play hockey in the springtime. The Golden Knights are in the midst of a competitive race in the Pacific Division, as they head into Sunrise with a record of 27-21-7 and 61 points.
While that doesn’t look too good, it’s good enough to be in a race for the divisional crown. No one else has really ran away with the division yet, so that’s allowed the Golden Knights to hang around and possibly steal the Pacific. If the playoffs started today, then they’d be going to the postseason as the No. 3 team in the division. They could also get a wildcard, so there is a lot up for grabs in the next two months in Las Vegas.
The same goes for the Florida Panthers, who would be going to the playoffs as the No. 3 seed in the Atlantic Division. They were helped out by the New York Rangers last night, with the Maple Leafs falling by a score of 5-3 at Madison Square Garden. If the Maple Leafs don’t make the playoffs, there’s going to be a very long offseason in Toronto. The Panthers would love it because it may mean that they’re going to the postseason.
Just like the Golden Knights, a lot is in play for the Panthers at the moment. It’s possible they go to the playoffs as a wildcard, a top-3 team in their division, or get left out all together. Bob Boughner was relieved of his duties as a result of failing to get the Panthers into the playoffs last season. The Panthers have looked like a much better team this season, though Sergei Bobrovsky has not lived up to expectations between the pipes.
The Florida offence has been firing away and has looked more potent under Joel Quenneville’s watch. If Bobrovsky can come around down the stretch, the Panthers not only make the playoffs, but they will likely be the surprise team of the 2019-20 playoffs. They’re not getting much attention. However, the Panthers could be a really tough out with a hot goaltender in the crease.
Bobrovsky is getting paid the big dollars to be that guy. The Panthers are coming off a dreadful offensive performance against the Blue Jackets, a 1-0 loss in Columbus, but we’ll see if the Golden Knights can hold them down again. It’s probably not going to be easy on Marc-Andre Fleury and company. Head below for our free Golden Knights vs. Panthers pick.
Vegas Golden Knights vs. Florida Panthers Betting Odds:
Golden Knights vs. Panthers Prediction:
The Panthers fell victim to a red-hot goaltender against the Blue Jackets in their most recent outing. Elvis Merzlikins was fantastic, as he stopped 32 of 32 shots to stop a Panthers’ offence that has been lighting up a lot of goalies this season. Bobrovsky may have been even better, as he sent back 44 of 45 saves. However, he was unable to get any help from his defence, which has been a problem often this year.
For all of the criticism that Bobrovsky has received in 2019-20, there have been several times that there has been zero help from the blueline. Bobrovsky owns a 3.19 GAA and 0.901 save percentage. Despite the standout performance against the Jackets, that was only the first game since January 18, six games ago, that Bobrovsky had allowed less than 3 goals in a performance.
There is no secret as to why the Panthers are not comfortably sitting in a playoff position right now. With a record of 29-17-6 and 64 points, where would they be right now if Bobrovsky had been playing up to his potential? Certainly better than 64 points and they’d probably be threatening the Lightning right now for the No. 2 spot in the division. As it is, though, Florida are just 24th in the league with 3.23 goals against per game.
Their offence has propelled them this season, but for how much longer can that go on? In the playoffs the goaltending is going to have to come around, with the pressure solely on Bobrovsky to find his game. The Panthers are 5th in the NHL with 3.56 goals scored per contest. That number shoots up to 3.96 goals per game at home in Sunrise. Although, the defensive problems still persist with an average of 3.15 goals allowed.
Following a shutout against the Predators, Fleury struggled against the Lightning with 3 goals against on only 17 shots for a 0.824 save percentage. He should expect to see more action around his net tonight. The Panthers are 8th in the league with 32.9 shots per game. Bobrovsky should expect the same, as the Golden Knights are 2nd in the league with 34.1 shots recorded per game. Like I said to open this article, this one looks like it’s shaping up to be an entertaining contest. The OVER appears to be the best way to play this game.