The Florida Panthers hope to keep the momentum going into the second half of the season.
Florida has five games in seven nights to open the second half, with three on the road to start.
With six straight wins entering the NHL All-Star break, the Panthers are the hottest team in the NHL along with Columbus.
Sergei Bobrovsky has three of those victories and for him at least the layoff was a good thing in terms of health.
Now as an important stretch approaches, the Panthers travel to the hockey mecca in Montreal to kick off the second half.
From Have Nots to Habs Again?
Montreal on the other hand has been on a roller coaster ride since late December as they lost eight straight going into the new year.
The Habs turned it around a bit before the break with wins in four of six following that losing skid.
Ageless Cary Price (21-17-0, 2.80 GAA, .909 SV %) still mans the net in Montreal. Price has won four out of his last five starts.
Left winger Tomas Tatar leads Montreal with 46 points (18 goals, 28 assists) and the Canadiens get solid scoring across multiple lines.
Montreal has seven players with at least 11 goals, including the dangerous Shea Weber from the blue line. Weber has the hardest slap shot in the NHL from the point, Florida must be aware of him especially on the power play.
The Canadiens are a middle of the pack team that doesn’t stand out in one particular phase, Florida has the better talent overall but cannot overlook anyone.
Florida’s key advantage is their 5th ranked power play versus the 23rd ranked penalty kill of Montreal. If the Cats get the man advantage they need to capitalize.
Playing in Montreal is always tough, Head Coach Joel Quenneville will certainly have the team motivated out of the break.
“Everybody’s back together and there’s a lot of excitement on the ice. Let’s go right off the bat with playing some hard games.” — Coach Q on the upcoming road trip. pic.twitter.com/xqUJCa89L6
— Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) January 31, 2020
Excitement is building around the Panthers as they surged to end the first half. After starting many seasons past slowly, those early points will certainly help their playoff push.
Bobrovsky should be energized after the hiatus, if the defense can take the next step it will give the Panthers the balance they need to contend with the upper echelon of the NHL.
After Montreal the Cats will travel to face the high flying Columbus Blue Jackets on Super Bowl Sunday.