The Florida Panthers made a valiant effort to make a comeback, but in the end, they’re going to come up just short. The Panthers were 28th in the league at one point this season. Bob Boughner led them all the way back to fighting for the playoffs. They’re going to come a game or two short, as the Flyers solidified the final playoff spot with a win over the Rangers yesterday. If they lost, the Panthers would have had something to play for on Saturday and today. Due to the Flyers winning, there is nothing for the Panthers to look forward to, other than a meaningless game against the Bruins today.
The Bruins have had their playoff spot for a while now. The only thing left to be decided was whether they would win the Atlantic. With a win on Saturday against the Senators, the Bruins can clinch the Atlantic if they defeat the Panthers today. They’ve gone toe-to-toe with the Lightning and it will all come down to tonight. Note that a win would give them the 1st overall seed in the Eastern Conference, which would mean home ice advantage.
The only scenario where they wouldn’t have home ice advantage is if they meet the Predators in the Stanley Cup Final. We’ll see what Panthers team we see on Sunday night. They had nothing to play for yesterday and still managed a 4-3 win against the Sabres. The Panthers do get an opponent that is better tenfold than the Sabres, though. Head below for our free Panthers vs. Bruins pick.
Florida Panthers vs. Boston Bruins Pick
Roberto Luongo sat out yesterday against the Sabres, and it will be unlikely we see him on Sunday night against the Bruins. Instead, the Panthers will probably turn to backup James Reimer in net. Is there any benefit whatsoever to start Luongo here? No, there is no point in getting him injured, possibly a long-term injury that seeps into next year. He’s a 39-year-old who maybe wouldn’t be able to return from something serious. Reimer owns a GAA of 3.00 with a 0.912 save percentage. He’s been a respectable backup for the Panthers this season. Florida are on a four-game winning streak heading into Sunday, but the three-game losing streak they suffered before winning four was too much to overcome.
The Bruins lost three in a row on the road before returning home to defeat the Senators, 5-2, on Saturday. The Bruins are an impressive 28-7-5 at home this season. They were sleepwalking a bit on the road, but they got a nice wakeup call against the Sens yesterday. Boston are 6th in the league in scoring, averaging 3.27 goals per game. They’ve also looked good on defence, 4th with 2.56 goals allowed per game. They own one of the most balanced attacks in the NHL, which is why they are playing for the conference tonight. I don’t think there’s anyone on the Panthers who is excited to fly out to Boston to play a glorified exhibition game. They’re going to play a loose brand of hockey on Sunday, but I think it’s going to be way too loose. The Bruins get a two or three goal win tonight and move on into the playoffs with the number 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.