The Bruins were at home tonight taking on the Florida Panthers. This game on paper should have been another one of those 8-0 cakewalks we’ve seen the B’s slap against their soon to be division mates. However, paper and reality aren’t always in sync. (The Vancouver Canucks were supposed to win the Stanley Cup in 2011 on paper.) The Bruins played a forty minute hockey game tonight. Once again the Bruins are finding ways to win in spite of themselves.
Patrice Bergeron scored twice tonight. His first goal was with his fellow linesmen Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin. The second one was an empty netter in the last minute of the game to silence any hope for Florida. Bergeron was less than pleased with the Bruins play tonight. “I mean obviously it seems we’re not necessarily playing our best hockey right now,” said the alternate captain. “Tonight was a big two points, I guess. We’ll take it. We’ve got to be much better. I thought we talked about it after the second period and came back a little better in the third, but like I said, we’re obviously not satisfied, but obviously it’s that time of the year. We’ll take the two points. It’s a big two points, but we realize that we need to up our game a bit.”
The Bruins came out of the box swinging in the first period. Captain Zdeno Chara got the first goal in for Boston by the four minute mark. Krejci’s line was moving hard on the Florida crease, giving Scott Clemmensen another rough night in the net.(The Boston College alumni has a dismal 4.15 GAA, and a .858 save %) A long rebound game to Chara and the fastest slapshot in hockey drilled it in the goal. The Bergeron (or HOT) line got the second goal later in the period.
Then the Bruins do what a lot of Boston teams do for who knows what reason. They choose an odd moment to implode. (Compared to the Patriots, Celtics, and especially the Red Sox, we should be thankful their implosions seldom last more than a game at a time.) The better Bruins players started to fall back into their own zone. They were practically ceding the neutral zone to the Panthers.
They also gave up a rare short handed goal when a bad pass from Milan Lucic to Dougie Hamilton caused Panther forward Shawn Matthias to go under and around Hamilton to get a nice unassisted goal past Tuukka Rask. In my opinion, Hamilton made a silly rookie move. He didn’t play through to the whistle. He thought he got tripped but didn’t continue to battle. That more than anything else, cost Tuukka Rask his third shutout of the year.
There was an odd moment in the game where Panthers’ forward Jonathan Huberdeau got into some sort of wrestling match with Dougie Hamilton. They may have been teammates in Canada’s U20 team that finished fourth in Ufa, Russia, but they were not on friendly terms tonight.
The third period saw a more focused Bruins team on the ice. The plays were cleaner, the passing was better, and the Merlot Men came through for Boston again. Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell were making some great moves in that series. Campbell got knocked to the ice at least twice in that series and kept charging forward like a man possessed. Paille was trying to get a shot to Campbell, but got tied up and the deflection went to Thornton. Thornton fired a shot, swept around the back side of the net to chuck it in to get the Bruins back up by two.
To quote the Meatloaf song “Two out of three ain’t bad.” It worked again for the Bruins. The Bruins alternate captain (and likely candidate for hockey sainthood)was at least happy with the third period’s work. “We were moving our feet a little better,” said Bergeron. “We talked about it. We’re the only ones that can get out of this, so it’s about pushing through, and things will take care of it. We’ve been through this before, and it’s not unusual. We know it’s going to happen sometimes. It’s about sticking with it and being better.”
The Bruins are now 18-4-3 going into the second half of the season. They’re just one point behind the Montreal Canadiens and the Pittsburgh Penguins. They play their next game at home in a Saturday matinee against the Washington Capitals. It’ll be a great chance to take back first place and deal out some revenge against the Capitals for their overtime loss on March 5th.