It was definitely not a pretty win for the Boston Bruins at times–especially in the second period, which was sluggish and unimpressive–and the team could definitely stand to have done better, but they did get the two points and the 4-1 win over the Florida Panthers.
Zdeno Chara got the Bruins out to an early lead in the first period with his sixth goal of the year and Patrice Bergeron later increased the lead to two before the end of the first period with some great work from his linemates.
But once again, a two-goal lead is the hardest to hold, especially for these Bruins, who are at times a shadow of themselves. That was especially evident in the second period, when the team at times looked lost, distant, unable to get it together and let the Panthers into the game. Shawn Matthias scored an unassisted shorthanded goal, even though Dougie Hamilton did whatever he could to try to stop him.
The second period was probably the ugliest 20 minutes so far this season and was undoubtedly a big part of why even the players described the game, and period, as such in postgame interviews. Bergeron, who did say that he thought his goal was pretty, pronounced the rest of the 60-minute effort the exact opposite. He’s also unsatisfied–but that’s, again, pretty much what the Bruins have said after almost every game this season, win or lose.
The Merlot line, though, proved to be very important in pushing the team further ahead after Matthias’ goal. Shawn Thornton basically assisted on his own goal, taking a shot and then going around back of the goal as Scott Clemmensen was drawn out of position, then putting in the puck. Thornton said he also often looked for his fellow merlot-wearer Daniel Paille up ice because Paille felt confident about his game.
Bergeron scored an empty-netter to seal the deal, unsatisfying as it was.
So, here’s the deal: the Bruins are now more than halfway through the season, Claude Julien has just taken sole ownership of the second most Boston coaching wins, they hold an 18-4-3 record and second place in the Northeast Division and yet there’s still some stuff missing. The top line hasn’t been impressing–the biggest contribution Milan Lucic had was to sit on Clemmensen, basically, and thwart a Nathan Horton goal–and oftentimes the second line and Tuukka Rask have to carry most of the water. Then, of course, there’s that whole playing a full 60 thing.
Coach said that the Bruins just talked to one another in the room after the second period about how to improve and have a better closing 20 minutes. Could they then perhaps talk to one another more? Conversations can really help.
Strangely enough, the good news is that their next game on March 16 is a matinee. They’re perfect in matinee games so far this season–but it is the Washington Capitals, so avoiding another third-period collapse will be of the utmost importance.