On Saturday night, the Boston Bruins found themselves in an unfamiliar position, suffering their second consecutive loss, an overtime defeat 4-3, for the first time this season. Furthermore, their opponents, the Florida Panthers, became the first club to beat the Bruins twice in 2022-23.
Ultimately, the two teams split the season series at two games apiece, with each team sweeping their home contests. Now, these two would play again only if the Panthers qualify for the playoffs as a wildcard team or advance past the first round.
Although everyone knew that the Bruins wouldn’t win every game, a mini-slump at this point of the season is nothing to be concerned about, considering how successful they have been thus far. However, there are a few things we can look back at and see whether bad habits are happening or if the loss was just one of those off nights.
David Pastrnak Can’t Score Them All
Anyone who reads the box score will notice that the Bruins got goals from Craig Smith, Charlie Coyle*, and David Pastrnak. Those are accurate statistics; however, Coyle didn’t fire the puck into the opposing net; he got lucky when Panthers’ forward Sam Bennett tried to cut down a pass and batted the puck into his own net. Realistically, the B’s only potted two goals on the night, a rare goal from Smith (third of the year) and Pastrnak, who broke a 2-2 tie in the final minute of play.
The lack of offense was questionable since Boston fired 40 shots on goal, the 12th time this year they reached that mark. However, their record is now just 7-5 in those games. Pastrnak led the pack with seven shots, with four other players getting four a piece. Unfortunately, the offense was not firing tonight and got stonewalled by a rookie goalie, Alex Lyon, who has 29 games of NHL experience.
Furthermore, for a team that can get goals from every line, they didn’t get the job done on Saturday night. Ultimately, the team would have never been in the game if Smith, who recently got demoted to the third line, didn’t intercept a Panthers’ breakout pass or if the home team didn’t score on his own net. Moreover, if they only rely on Pastrnak to score timely goals in tightly contested games, there may be more losses than wins down the stretch.
This Loss is Not Jeremy Swayan’s Fault
Heading into the game against the Panthers, Jeremy Swayman was on a five-game winning streak with a .968 save percentage (SV%). Nevertheless, that hot streak came after back-to-back losses, which led many people to question his stability between the pipes. Moreover, he recently silenced the critics with brilliant performances, earning the trust of his teammates, the coaching staff, and the fans.
Swayman stood on his head in Florida and made some key saves when the Bruins were sloppy, allowing several odd-man rushes. Although he finished a brutal .892 SV%, it wasn’t his worse performance of the season.
Overall, he gave up four goals tonight, with two being savable shots. Bennett and Sam Reinhart (overtime winner) snipped perfectly placed shots, which came down to good shooters finding space. However, we can’t blame Swayman for the first goal, a deflection that slides through his pads, or Aleksander Barkov’s game-tying goal in the dying seconds on a scramble in the zone.
It is easy to blame the goalie on nights a team loses, especially if they give up some soft goals. Although he could have been sharper, Swayman went toe-to-toe with Lyon and prevented the game from getting out of hand.
Overcoming Adversity Will Be the Theme of This Boston Bruins Road Trip
On the way to the All-Star Game break, the Bruins began a five-game road trip with a convincing win over the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night. Then, they traveled to Tampa Bay and lost a one-goal game, 3-2. Ultimately, it was a rare sight to see the team trail all night, but those games happen, and it was on to Florida after that.
There will be several talking points regarding Saturday’s game; however, one of the big ones has to be that the Bruins blew three separate one-goal leads. Furthermore, the entire game execution seemed to be off all night, despite the number of saves Lyon had to make. There was rarely a moment when the B’s dominated the play and looked like the best team in the league. Whether they played down to a weaker opponent’s style or just not focused on the task at hand, it seemed like an off night.
Of course, with an impressive first half of the season, the Bruins can afford to have bad nights and still be winners at the end of the campaign. However, this five-game stretch will be an actual test of this team’s character, and after back-to-back losses, many will wonder how they bounce back with two crucial games left before the break.
The team is right back at it today in Carolina, which currently has the conference’s second-best record. Interestingly, the B’s run the risk of dropping three straight contests and losing valuable points against a Hurricanes team that sits just nine points behind them in the standings.
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