March 15, 2013

Postgame Breakdown: B's wait 'til late to finish off Florida

By Jesse Connolly

Panthers forward Shawn Matthias showed a wealth of determination, springing back up after getting toppled by Dougie Hamilton and scoring a shorthanded goal. (Getty Images)

Final: Boston 4, Florida 1

Recap: The Bruins wasted no time giving Scott Clemmensen and his .852 save percentage a warm welcome, as Zdeno Chara’s perfectly-placed slapper found twine at the 3:55 mark, giving Boston an early 1-0 lead. It was double to two with 5:04 left in the frame, as Patrice Bergeron tipped in a perfectly executed, tic-tac-toe play with Tyler Seguin dishing to Brad Marchand, who then fed Bergeron at the far post.

The B’s dropped from 16 shots in the first period to just seven in the second. Florida scored the only goal of the stanza on an incredible shorthanded goal. In the third, the B’s spent the first 10 minutes of the period hardly making an effort to put the Panthers away. Finally, Shawn Thornton capitalized and buried a loose puck after he and his linemates put together a strong shift with multiple scoring chances.

With the Bruins up 3-1, Florida pulled Clemmensen. Bergeron closed out the scoring with his second strike of the night, putting the puck into the open net at the 19:02 mark.

Records: Boston 18-4-3, 39 points; Florida 7-15-6, 20 points

Key Play of the Game: I’m going to go an unconventional route here and declare Matthias’ shorty the highlight of the night. As is often the case against the Panthers – a non-divisional opponent that has no history or shared animosity with the Black and Gold – the game was a bit of a snoozer. Matthias’ goal, which saw him get wiped out in a race for the puck with Dougie Hamilton, only to get back up and beat Tuukka Rask low glove side, was beauty and pure effort all rolled into one.

Connolly’s Commendations: After a few quiet games of late, Bergeron was right back to his old tricks. The B’s leading point-getter tallied twice and absolutely spanked opposing centers on the evening, winning 18-of-23 (78%) faceoffs.

It was a pretty quiet night for Aaron Johnson which, by sixth-defenseman standards, basically translates to an awesome game. With Adam McQuaid nursing an undisclosed injury, Johnson stepped in and played 17:43 of solid hockey. He was plus-1 and dished out a team-high four hits.

Connolly’s Critiques: Rather than find a way to rip an individual player, we’ll call out the entire team for simply taking their foot off the gas, especially during the sleep-inducing lull that was the second period.

Notes: Bergeron, as mentioned above, won 18 faceoffs. The entire Panthers team won 17. Claude Julien notched his 246th victory as coach of the B’s, pushing him past Milt Schmidt for sole possession of second place on the all-time list. Art Ross ranks first with 361 wins.

Final Thoughts:
The Bruins have gotten into the awfully-dangerous habit of building early leads then letting teams hang around. Sometimes things go awry like they did in Pittsburgh. Other times, the opponent just doesn’t have the kind of offensive arsenal squads like the Pens and Caps possess. The B’s were borderline lucky that this game didn’t end up tied 2-2 in the third period.

Next: Speaking of the Caps, Alex Ovechkin and friends will be coming to town Saturday for a 1 o’clock matinee.

Twitter: @JesseNEHJ