Your Boston Bruins hosted the
undefeated Florida Panthers tonight at the TD Garden in front of a sold out crowd on Halloween’s Eve. The B’s were “allegedly” coming off a 2 game road trip where they “supposedly” dropped both games. This is all rumour and innuendo Dear Reader as your boy Brownie saw neither of those “alleged” games and I cannot confirm nor deny that they even took place. There is no proof that can be offered to my satisfaction, so I’m just going forth with the theory that it didn’t happen, thank you very much and pass the Kool-Aid.
The Bruins welcomed back Craig Smith (along with his motor and his ever present shot) in his usual slot alongside Charlie Coyle and Taylor Hall, The Erection Line was intact but the 3rd line had a slightly different look. Curtis Lazar was on the wing opposite Jake DeBrusk with Erik Haula at the pivot and The NM (new merlot?) line featured Tomas Nosek in between Karson Kuhlman and Trent Frederic. On defense it was Charlie McAvoy paired with Derek Forbort, Matt Grzelcyk with Brandon Carlo and Mike Reilly with Connor Clifton. Linus Ullmark was back in net with rookie phenom Spencer Knight in the FL cage (6-0-0 in his young NHL career).
Boston came out aggressive on the fore-check and took the body at every available opportunity. They were playing with emotion and pace for the first half of the period… until they weren’t. I’m not sure what happened, but they seemed flat for the latter half of the opening period and clearly I wasn’t the only one who thought so. Bruce Cassidy juggled his lines late in the first, demoting David Pastrnak to the 3rd line and elevating Smith to the 1st and Lazar to the 2nd. The moves paid off almost immediately as Lazar was the catalyst in getting the B’s on the board first. Lazar was hounding the puck in the FL zone and forced a hurried dump up the boards on the LW wall. Forbort pinched down and kept the play alive and threw the puck on net. Hall dug the puck out of a high slot pile-up and he touched it over to Coyle at the LW dot. Coyle did a drag snap and unleashed a laser that beat Knight far side top corner over the glove. It was a sick snipe and gave the Bruins the early lead.
Only 47 seconds into the 2nd period a bad change by the Bruins led to an outmanned rush for the Panthers and it was tie game. Anthony Duclair went inside-outside as he walked in from the RW dot and held the puck past a sliding Forbort and beat Ullmark over the shoulder. I don’t watch a whole lot of Panthers games (unless they’re playing the Lightning) but Duclair is a PLAYER. He’s a fun guy to watch and his game jumps out at you.
The Bruins reverted back to their days of “one too many passes” for the duration of the period and didn’t have many quality opportunities on Knight. The Panthers on the other hand, tested Ullmark repeatedly in the middle frame especially with a flurry at the midway mark. If @IceBearDude wasn’t up to the task, this game would have gotten away from the Bruins in a hurry – by the way sick Twitter handle.
A soft call in the 3rd sent Florida to the power play and Aleksander Barkov put the Panthers ahead. Jonathan Huberdeau found Barkov with a seam pass from the LW circle and Barkov beat Ullmark over the glove. It was a nice play, but c’mon, that pass shouldn’t be able to travel dot to dot like that.
The Bruins were getting stymied on their entries and were having trouble with setting up in the Panthers zone as time wound down in the final period. With less than 7 minutes left in the game, the Bruins were awarded their own soft power play (hey as long as it’s consistent you’ll hear no bitching from me). This is when Chuckie Bright Lights cashed in for his first of the season. Marchy worked the puck down the LW wall and found McAvoy sneaking down the RW. Tape to tape with the pass and Chuckie with the catch and release beat Knight over the glove and it’s all tied up again. Again, as was the case with the Barkov goal, this pass shouldn’t get there, but at least Marchand wasn’t staring at McAvoy like Huberdeau was looking at Barkov. Maybe Huberdeau always looks at Barkov like that? I don’t know. What I am saying is to find someone to look at you the way that Huberdeau looks at Barkov.
On to extra hockey. In the OT period both teams had chances, and both teams didn’t take advantage of the tired players who stayed out too long. It’s always exciting to watch 3 on 3 hockey, even if they don’t score in the 5-minute period. I personally would like them to add an additional 3 on 3 period and switch sides so the teams have the short change before they go to the shootout. In the shootout, Ullmark was perfect and Knight (playing in his first shootout) was not. Coyle got his second of the night with a patient, nifty play and the Bruins secured the extra point.
Up next for the Black and Gold are a few days off before they host the surprising Red Wings on Thursday. Happy Halloween ya filthy animals.
- The Coyle line was electric no matter if they were together or separated. Hall, Coyle and Smith were impactful and played solid both offensively and defensively throughout.
- The physicality tonight was smart checking. Taking the hits as they came to you, no one was chasing anyone around and it was all good clean hockey. Love it.
- Linus Ullmark has staked himself as the number 1 thus far in my opinion. This is no knock on Swayman, I just think Ullmark has looked good.
- If Cassidy is putting Pastrnak on the 2nd and 3rd lines, then something’s going on. Hopefully whatever ails him is sorted out this week and he’s back to normal on Thursday.
- The Bruins were making too many plays were they over passed. I’d like to see more straight line hockey and pucks on net. I’m not yelling “shoooooooot” from my couch, but we’re approaching that level.
- At times they were a little scrambly out there. That could be attributed to Florida’s style of play, but it looked self inflicted.
- Taylor Hall scored his 600th career point on the first Coyle goal (he ended up with 2 pts tonight). That’s 601 points in 687 career games, not a big deal.
- Nice bit of nasty going on between Cliffy and the proud son of East Longmeadow, MA: Frank Vatrano. Neither one of them passed up an opportunity to put a body on the other. I looked and they didn’t cross paths when Frankie V was in the Bruins organization so this feud is game earned.
- Good to see old friend (and Stanley Cup Champion) and now Chief Commercial Officer of the FL Panthers Shawn Thornton in between periods. Thornton wrote a book about his career and the path he took to becoming an NHL regular and a Cup Champ. The book is called “Fighting my Way to the Top” and is available to pre-order and will be released on 11/16/21.
- The Bruins had a video tribute to Jimmy Hayes along with a moment of silence before the game. Hayes played for both the Bruins and Panthers in his career and the teams honored him during warmups too. The Bruins all skated with “Hayesy” on their sweaters while the Panthers had “Broadway” on there’s. The video was unique to me as it showed Hayes off the ice as well as hockey highlights and I think that speaks to the man’s personality and love of life. Hopefully the fact that Colin Wilson recently cited the Hayes’ family willingness to discuss Jimmy’s troubles as a big reason he sought treatment will offer them some peace.
A night for Jimmy. 💛🖤