The Boston Bruins (20-7-6, 46 points) have lost five straight for the first time this season. They’ve also lost the first three games of a four-game road trip that has seen them play some tough competition. Tonight, they meet the Florida Panthers (15-11-5, 35 points) for the second time this season. It is their first trip to South Florida.
Puck drop is 7:00 pm on NESN and 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Bruins “Need More” From Depth Scorers
To the surprise of no one, the Bruins top line has been just fine during this recent slump. It’s everyone else that needs to step up and provide some offensive chances. “Top line again was creating, we’re just not getting anything from the middle of the lineup in terms of offense. You need four lines to produce for you in this league on a regular basis,” Bruce Cassidy told reporters following Thursday’s loss.
It’s one thing if the offense isn’t coming but there are chances. Right now, the Bruins aren’t even getting the looks from the rest of their lineup. “Might not be tonight, might be Saturday, but at some point we have to balance that out and get going here a little bit, at least find their opportunities and they’ll go in. But I’m not sure they’re even finding their opportunities yet.”
Patrice Bergeron gave the Bruins a lead just 4:26 into the hockey game on Thursday night. He was the only forward to score in the 3-2 loss.
Frustration Keeps Building
Two of the Lightning’s three goals on Thursday came on the powerplay. A usually strong Bruins penalty kill was all out of sorts two nights ago. “The penalty kill just didn’t have an answer tonight,” Cassidy lamented postgame. “They scored twice and probably should have scored on the other one.”
The Lightning have one of the most skilled rosters in the league, and as a result seemingly always have a top powerplay. Taking bad penalties against them is not an option. The Bruins know that, and those who committed the infractions didn’t shy away from their mistakes. “I take responsibility,” John Moore told the club’s official website.
“I’m trying to go stick on puck there and I make a bad turnover in the second. I’m better than that. I pride myself on being a good PK’er and when I’m in the box that’s not gonna help the team. I’ve got to be better.” Moore did make good on one of his two penalties. The veteran scored his first goal of the season with 3:15 remaining in the hockey game.
Moore wasn’t the only defenseman to show some frustration postgame. “We’re kind of going through it right now and trying to find a recipe to get back in the win column,” Charlie McAvoy said. “As frustrating as it is, it’s just a handful of games in December. A little bit of perspective goes a long way. At the same time, we want to win. We’re competitors and no one is really happy in here. That being said, perspective.”
Trade Rumor Central!
BHN’s Jimmy Murphy has been all over the latest trade rumors involving the Boston Bruins. Earlier today, Murphy reported that the Bruins remain in the race for New Jersey Devils forward Taylor Hall. Murphy, however, also mentions that the club is not the front-runner for Hall at this time.
In addition to the Hall talks, Murphy has been reporting the Bruins interest in Los Angeles Kings forward Tyler Toffoli for an extended period of time.
In terms of price for Hall, here’s a snippet of what Murphy wrote this morning here at Boston Hockey Now. “New Jersey’s demands would likely mean that the Bruins would have to surrender the likes of a Jake DeBrusk or New Jersey native Connor Clifton from their current roster, top defensive prospect Urho Vaakanainen, and a first or second-round pick.”
Boston Bruins Lines
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk – David Krejci – Brett Ritchie
Danton Heinen – Charlie Coyle – Anders Bjork
Joakim Nordstrom – Sean Kuraly – Chris Wagner
Zdeno Chara – Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug – Brandon Carlo
John Moore – Matt Grzelcyk
Bruins lines are subject to change, as always. The club did not skate this morning, so the projected lines are the ones that the club rolled out on Thursday in Tampa Bay. There is a possibility that Connor Clifton could draw into the lineup in the place of John Moore. Halak is expected to start tonight after Tuukka Rask got the nod on Thursday. David Backes and Par Lindholm are expected to be scratched up front.
Florida Panthers Lines
Jonathan Huberdeau – Aleksander Barkov – Evgenii Dadonov
Mike Hoffman – Vincent Trocheck – Brett Connolly
Frank Vatrano – Noel Acciari – Denis Malgin
Dominic Toninato – Brian Boyle – Colton Sceviour
MacKenzie Weegar – Aaron Ekblad
Keith Yandle – Anton Stralman
Michael Matheson – Josh Brown