Saturday, Feb. 21 was a big night for the Florida Panthers. After the Panthers suffered a 4-0 shutout to the Chicago Blackhawks the Thursday just before, they rebounded in a big way, shutting out the Eastern Conference-leading Boston Bruins.
That ability to bounce back and shake off the touch and go moments has been the hallmark of the team this season. The Bruins though had an uncharacteristically disappointing performance Saturday.
The Bruins have in fact been stagnant of late, losing back-to-back games first to the Panthers, then to one of the NHL's worst in the form of the Tampa Bay Lightning. They've gone 4-4-2 since Feb. 1, whereas the Panthers have held a record of 7-3 since February began.
Both teams going into tonight's matchup are looking to make a statement. Florida, on the one hand, looks to sweep a home and home series with one of the hottest teams in the league in their own arena. This would be a huge win for Florida at this point in the season, and a strong start to a five-game road trip that could either boost the team over its competitors in the playoff race or sideline them.
Boston, however, looks to take this game to reassert their position as the dominant club in the East. The Bruins have the strongest chance in my opinion of taking home Lord Stanley's Cup this year, and a win tonight, bouncing back from a tough losing skid, would make it clear that the team is primed to make it.
I hate to be cliché, but whoever wins this game, the matchup is set to be one of the most exciting games of the season.