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Bruins ‘Haven’t Played Their Best Hockey’ After Game 2 Loss



Boston Bruins

BOSTON – It’s now officially a hockey playoff series as the Boston Bruins have dropped a home game at TD Garden to the No. 8 seed Florida Panthers in their playoff series.

The Bruins were left looking for answers after a slew of turnovers (15 giveaways to five giveaways for the Panthers) were committed by the Black and Gold under heavy pressure from the Florida forecheck, and a number of mistakes managing the puck led to a 6-3 loss in Game 2 on Wednesday night. Two of those 15 Bruins turnovers led directly to Florida goals in their huge playoff win against Boston.

“Players didn’t make the best decisions at moments. I thought for the majority of the first two periods we were doing some really good things with the puck, but the turnovers we had tonight were catastrophic,” said Boston Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery. “They were right through the middle of the ice and not typical of the turnovers we usually have. That’s not typically an area where we’re trying to make plays, where we turned it over.”

Charlie McAvoy finished a minus-3, Hampus Lindholm wasn’t much better and Dmitry Orlov similarly looked reactive and under pressure throughout the game as Florida was in attack mode against Boston’s breakout.

Boston Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery was keeping it positive in defeat by saying he actually thought the B’s looked faster and better equipped to handle the pressure through the game’s first two periods, but it all fell apart in a third where the turnovers multiplied, and Boston got pushed around as the B’s players strayed away from their game plan.

It was 2-2 and anybody’s hockey game headed into the third period, but the Bruins allowed four goals and their regular season strength suddenly became a playoff weakness.

“It’s five guys working together, it’s not just defensemen and it’s not just forwards not scoring goals,” said Montgomery, who noted that he’ll be considering lineup changes for Game 3. “We believe in being a five-man unit in every zone. For the first two periods we thought we did that, except for some of the puck decisions that we made.

“And in the third period, our game got away from us. For a team that’s been really good in the third period for a long time, it’s an opportunity for us to learn and grow from that.”

Montgomery actually said he was most disappointed about the lack of net-front action in the B’s offensive zone, where they were attacking a much stronger Alex Lyon with largely perimeter shots he was able to track around the zone. But a close second has to be the way Boston defensemen time and time again handed over pucks to Florida attackers by throwing hope passes up the middle that were intercepted at the defensive blue line.

It happened to Brandon Carlo on Florida’s first goal, and it happened Charlie McAvoy on the backbreaking fourth goal for Florida when he was blown up along the side boards, turned the puck over to Matthew Tkachuk and he fed Carter Verhaege in front for the easy goal with Orlov left behind to guard two Panthers attackers. A clearly frustrated McAvoy didn’t want to dwell too much on what had happened on the ice after it was over, but a Boston Bruins turnaround starts with the entire D-corps getting better for Game 3 in Florida on Friday night.

“Every team poses a challenge with their forecheck, so it’s just up to us to make better plays. That’s it,” said Charlie McAvoy. “There’s ups and downs in every series and that’s just playoff hockey. You take it for what it is, turn the page and know that we’ve got to be better moving forward.

“It’s 1-1, we’re going down there, and everything is in front of us, and we know that we haven’t played our best hockey yet. This whole thing is a roller coaster. You’ve just got to keep your feet on the ground and never get too high or too low. You adapt as you go along and it’s about who can get better as you move along in the series.”

Perhaps it’s also time to think about inserting Matt Grzelcyk into the series where his quickness and puck-moving could help combat a Florida team that’s playing fast, aggressive and causing turnovers all over Boston’s defensive zone.

“They put a lot of pressure,” said Marchand. “They were playing really fast. [Sam] Bennett back in the lineup. Obviously, he plays extremely hard. Tough player to play against. Adds depth into their lineup as well. So that third line is even stronger. They played fast. They were moving pucks ups and getting on the forecheck hard and being physical.

“A big part of it was them, and we forced a few plays. It’d be nice to have back. I definitely didn’t take care of pucks at some points. You gotta give them credit, they played hard.”

It feels like the Panthers are still playing at a higher playoff level and with more desperation than a Boston Bruins team that just rolled through a historic regular season. The Game 2 loss should be a wakeup call that more is needed out of the Boston Bruins at both ends of the ice, and that it’s time for B’s players to get out of their comfort zones and combat a Panthers hockey club that was ready for battle right at the start of the Stanley Cup playoffs.






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