The Florida Panthers did not present their best effort in Philadelphia last night and paid for it with a 4-1 loss. That’s not what Joel Quenneville and his team needs now. Lackluster performances like that can add up to a seat at home come the playoffs. Sergei Bobrovsky was in the crease for that loss, as he allowed 3 goals on 33 shots. The Flyers found the empty net to make it a 4-1 final score at the Wells Fargo Center.
Florida will have an opportunity to bounce right back on Tuesday night in Newark against the New Jersey Devils. That puts them 2 points behind the Maple Leafs for the No. 3 seed in the Atlantic Division. Their 64 points is not good enough to get a wildcard slot, either. The Panthers are 5 points behind the Flyers for the final playoff seed in the Eastern Conference. If they don’t reach the playoffs this season, it will be easy to put the blame on the defence and Sergei Bobrovsky. I can’t argue with that.
The Panthers are paying Bobrovsky a lot of money to play elite, but he’s playing anything but. Even if he was playing average in net, the Panthers would be in a much better position than they are right now. Bobrovsky has posted a 3.27 GAA and 0.898 save percentage. That’s not elite, good, or even average, it’s flat out bad. And if the Panthers do reach the playoffs, if they have any chance to go deep, Bobrovsky must find that elite switch and get hot.
Bobrovsky will likely get the night off after playing last night in Philadelphia. That will leave Montembeault with the probable starting nod against the Devils on Tuesday. Montembeault was sent down to the minors as a result of shoddy play, but has since been called back up. This will only be the sixth start for the 23-year-old in 2019-20.
His last appearance was in relief of Bobrovsky on February 6 against the Vegas Golden Knights. He allowed 1 goal on 10 shots for a 0.90 save percentage in that effort. We’ll see how Montembeault handles the Devils tonight. Mackenzie Blackwood will most likely counter in net for the Devils. Head below for our free Panthers vs. Devils pick.
Florida Panthers vs. N.J. Devils Betting Odds:
Panthers vs. Devils Prediction:
This is a good opportunity for Montembeault to shine in an important game. It’s another chance for an audition to impress his employer, which hasn’t gone well so far this season. That’s been a problem for the Panthers. With Bobrovsky going through cold stretches, the Panthers have not had a good Plan B between the pipes. They’ve just had to ride it out and hope that Bobrovsky gets hot. He’s at least been better than Montembeault in net. Montembeault owns a 3.40 GAA and 0.889 save percentage in five starts and a total of nine appearances.
His most recent start did not go swimmingly. He allowed 5 goals on 26 shots for a brutal 0.808 save percentage. Prior to that, Montembeault allowed 5 goals on 34 shots against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden. That equated to a 0.853 save percentage. And if we want to go further back, Montembeault gave up 5 goals against the Canucks for a 0.833 save percentage. In other words, he’s allowed 5 goals in each of his last three opportunities to start in net. You can see how important the rest of the season is going to be for him, as he hopes to be back as the full-time backup next season.
The Florida defence has struggled with Boborvsky and Montembeault between the pipes. Bobrovsky has been the better option, but he still isn’t playing like he should be. The Panthers are 27th in the NHL with 3.31 goals against per game. That doesn’t sound like a postseason team to me. Fortunately, Quenneville has been able to get the most out of his playmakers. It’s been a dreary situation defensively, but offensively they’ve been hot throughout the year.
They are 5th in the league with 3.45 goals scored per game. We didn’t see it last night, but will likely happen versus a beatable Devils’ defence Tuesday night. The Devils rank 30th in the league with 3.41 goals against per game. They’ve gotten better than earlier in the season, but problems still persist.
In their last ten outings, the Devils have yielded 3.3 goals per contest. There will be work to do in the offseason in repairing their blueline. The Panthers have torched the Devils for 13 goals in their last three meetings. However, New Jersey countered with 11 goals of their own. All three games went OVER the total with an average of 8 goals. That trend should continue this evening, with what I see as a 4-3 or 5-3 game on Tuesday night at the Prudential Center.