Here are the Talking Points from the Boston Bruins 4-1 loss to the Florida Panthers on Wednesday night at FLA Live Arena, the first of two measuring stick games that didn’t start well for the Black and Gold.
GOLD STAR: A couple great passes from Sam Reinhart set up each of Florida’s first two goals and got them off and running after the Bruins really outplayed the Panthers for most of the opening period. The first one was a gut punch to the Bruins as Reinhart won a board battle against both Charlie Coyle and Taylor Hall, and then fed to a streaking Mason Marchment for the game-tying goal on a blast from the high slot that eluded Linus Ullmark. Then Reinhart fed a dish from behind the net to Eetu Luostarinen camped out in front after getting great position on Connor Clifton. Reinhart finished with two assists, a plus-2 rating and two shots on net in 15:53 of ice time that got the Panthers off and on their way. It feels like the depth and diversity of scoring is really an area where Florida has improved greatly headed into this season. They look like a force to be reckoned with.
BLACK EYE: David Pastrnak finished with six shots on net and 11 shot attempts overall, but that was after a flurry of shots in the third period. Pastrnak had just two shots on net after the first 40 minutes, somehow played a 2-on-1 with Brad Marchand into a nothing play and tried to pull off a fancy backhanded move at the offensive blue line during a PP possession that turned into a 2-on-1 breakaway for the Panthers. Luckily Linus Ullmark bailed them out with a save, but it was indicative of some really poor decisions that Pastrnak made with the puck while not playing with his usual energy, or any hard plays along the boards. The entire Perfection Line was kept quiet by the Panthers throughout the game, but Pastrnak definitely looked like he was struggling with less than his best.
TURNING POINT: The Bruins had a 1-0 lead and were well on their way to rolling through a dominant first period when a key mistake late in the frame let the Panthers up off the mat. Charlie Coyle and Taylor Hall were both beaten by Sam Reinhart in a puck battle along the side boards with Hall out of position, and then nobody picked up a streaking Mason Marchment, who beat Linus Ullmark with a medium distance shot that the Boston Bruins goaltender would like to have back. The Panthers goal with a little more than five minutes left in the first period gave Florida life where they hadn’t had any and then they controlled the rest of the game from that point on.
HONORABLE MENTION: It’s amazing what a difference a year can make for a player on any given team. In this particular case it’s Sergei Bobrovsky, who stopped 30-of-31 shots against the Boston Bruins including 14 saves in the first period. Sometimes he was lucky as when Erik Haula beat him five hole and then simply missed the net with the shot after getting it through his leg pads and other times Sasha Barkov and the Panthers defense did a stellar job of packing things in around the Florida net to support him. But the bottom line is that Bobrovsky is 5-0-0 with a .946 save percentage and a 1.79 goals against while playing behind a deep, well-coached team that’s paying attention to the details.
BY THE NUMBERS: 5 – the number of hits for Jumbo Joe Thornton still throwing his body around at 42 years old in 11:33 of ice time.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “All of the things we did well in the first period, specifically manage the puck against a good offensive team, we did the exact opposite in the second. It started right away. It snowballed in the second period & that’s where it got away from us.” –Bruce Cassidy on where things turned for the B’s after a first period where they outshot the Panthers by a 15-5 margin in the opening 20 minutes.