Panthers look to bounce back at home against Predators

The Florida Panthers, who start a nine-game homestand on Saturday night against the Nashville Predators, found themselves in playoff position on Thanksgiving Day, which is usually significant.

Historically, roughly 75 percent of the teams who are in playoff position at Thanksgiving hold onto their spot by the end of the season.

Even so, there are concerns about the Panthers, whose current three-game losing streak is tied for their worst stretch of the season.

Scroll to continue with content
Ad

The Panthers, who have dropped those three games by a combined score of 13-7, have not lost their faith in each other, however.

"We have confidence," Panthers center Vincent Trocheck insisted to reporters. "We know we can bounce back."

The Panthers have a couple of issues at the moment -- their power play and goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.

Florida's power play -- the fifth best in the NHL overall this season -- has cooled off, scoring just once in its past 14 opportunities with the man advantage.

Bobrovsky, who made just 16 stops in Wednesday's 4-3 loss at the Washington Capitals, hasn't really played up to the seven-year, $70 million contract he signed in July. He has a 9-6-4 record, and his .884 save percentage and 3.48 goals-against average would be his career-worst statistics if those numbers were to hold through to the end of the season.

"Goalies get scrutinized to a different level," Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said. "But you need big saves. That can be the difference."

The Predators got plenty of those on Friday night as they went on the road and blanked the Carolina Hurricanes 3-0.

Nashville is 3-0-1 in its past four games, and coach Peter Laviolette will have an interesting decision to make against the Panthers.

Laviolette can go right back to Pekka Rinne (9-5-2), who made 31 saves on Friday to stop the Hurricanes, snapping his personal four-game losing streak.

Another Laviolette option is to go with backup Juuse Saros (3-5-2, .891 save percentage, 3.13 GAA).

"He bounced back in a big way," Laviolette said of Rinne, who had been pulled in three of his past four games. "He was excellent."

For Rinne, 37, this was also his first win since Nov. 4.

"I got off to a good start," Rinne said of his performance on Friday. "That was the key."

The Panthers, who will have the advantage of being home and operating with more rest since they haven't played since Wednesday, could go with rookie backup goalie Sam Montembeault (3-2-1, .889, 3.31 GAA) if Quenneville wishes to rest Bobrovsky.

Offensively, the Panthers are led in goals by second-line winger Brett Connolly, who has 12. Connolly, who signed in July after having won a Stanley Cup with the Washington Capitals, has been a happy surprise for the Panthers. Captain and center Aleksander Barkov leads Florida with 23 assists, and Jonathan Huberdeau is first on the team in points (31).

Mike Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov lead Florida with five power-play goals each.

Roman Josi leads Nashville in points (24) and assists (17). Filip Forsberg and Nick Bonino pace Nashville with 10 goals each. And Josi and Matt Duchene lead the team in power-play goals with three each.

Forsberg, with 10 points in his past 12 games, is perhaps Nashville's hottest player.

--Field Level Media

What to Read Next