By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
With the deficit halved to just one and on a power play -- and with Florida's Troy Brouwer storming the other end for a shorthanded chance -- the Bruins absolutely needed a save from Tuukka Rask.
They did not get that save from No. 40, and you could feel the momentum the B's fought so hard to regain go right out the window in what finished as a 4-1 afternoon final at TD Garden.
"I had a bad read because I thought the puck might – I might have had the chance to play it, you know, and then I was just way out of the net and it was a nice move," Rask, who stopped just 18 of 21 shots faced, said after the loss. "But that’s one of those things that, one of the shots that you would like to have saved, especially on a 2-1 game on a power play, but, you know, I didn’t and that’s it. Hopefully next time I will."
But during a short (by his standards) postgame presser following the defeat, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy had an obviously limited interest in throwing the blame Rask's way.
"Tonight, we didn’t generate enough anyways, so it may not have mattered, but the third goal we needed a save on to stay in the game," Cassidy began. "We battled back from 2-0, 2-1. You could tell we didn’t have our A-game.
"Yeah, we needed one more save, but this was a team loss, a total team loss today, in my estimation."
That's pretty easy for Cassidy to offer in a loss that saw Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak all held to absolutely nothing despite a combined nine-shot barrage against the Panthers' Roberto Luongo. (Bergeron and Marchand each finished with a minus-3 rating for the first time since Jan. 10 against the Capitals.)
And especially when the B's lack of puck-luck left them with their only goal coming by way of fourth-line banger Noel Acciari, a goal scored in large part to Luongo not corralling the puck on the initial chance.
"We just were not crisp with the puck," Cassidy noted. "Another day, if we had a little more puck luck, we might squeeze a point or two or get a win, but we certainly wouldn’t walk away and say ‘boy, this was one of our better ones’, no matter how this turned out today."
Here are some other thoughts and notes from a 4-1 loss at TDG...
Grzelcyk has 'rusty' return to lineup
Held to just 13:32 of action in the loss, and with third-period shifts few and far between, it was an obviously rocky return back to the lineup for Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk.
"Rusty, didn’t execute like he usually does," Cassidy said. "So he’ll have another opportunity tomorrow to find his game."
A hope for the Grzelcyk and the Bruins for his next outing? His pairing partner, Kevan Miller, is expected to return back to action Sunday night in Detroit.
Fans nailed 7th Player Award this time around
I'm not going to act like I'm sort of purist when it comes to NESN's Seventh Player Award. But I think it's fair to note that the award has sorta lost its meaning in recent seasons. It used to be about a player that exceeded expectations and performed above his role, but lately it's become the shiny new toy award, even if the player performing above their expectations was either a first-round pick or top-line player.
I mean, how else could you possibly explain Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak each being two-time winners of the award?
But the fans absolutely nailed it this year, as Chris Wagner took the honor home (he's from Walpole, y'know).
"A lot," Wagner said of capturing the award. "I watched Blaine Lacher get it back in, like ’94, it was one of the first games I remember. So, to get the fan support like that my first year home, it really means a lot to me."
Truth is the B's had no shortage of options this year. While the Mayor of Walpole was a deserving candidate, it just as easily could have gone to backup goaltender Jaroslav Halak (21 wins and a .923 save percentage this season), Grzelcyk (asked to be a top-pairing defender at various points this season), or even Sean Kuraly (career-highs across the board while serving as the driver of Boston's terrific fourth line).
Roberto Luongo has anything-but-fitting ending in what might be final game vs. Bruins
Panthers netminder Roberto Luongo may be set to call it a career.
“I can see that [Florida] is considering bringing in someone else,” Luongo said earlier this week. “And [Montembeault] has played well. I’m turning 40 next week…. This season has been very difficult. We’ve got six games left. After, we’ll sit down — myself and the team — and figure this out.”
Given Luongo's increasing fragility, and reading between the lines of that quote (and the Panthers' plans in net), it's not hard to imagine where he's leaning at this point.
That made Saturday's 30-of-31 showing against the Bruins all the more entertaining for Bobby Lou.
"I thought he played great today," said Wagner. "He made some big saves in the slot – that one on [Zdeno Chara] was pretty nice. Couple others. You know, he has that many wins for a reason, so good for him."
It's no secret that this building has been an absolute house of horrors for him throughout his career, and was a true nightmare for him during the 2011 Stanley Cup Final when he was with the Vancouver Canucks. So to maybe make your last Boston memory a win over a Bruins club vying for home-ice had to feel sweet.
"It's always nice to be on the winning side," said Luongo.
Even if it's about eight years too late.
Dak Attack in B's locker room
Gotta admit: Definitely had to do a double-take walking into the Black and Gold's locker room after this game, as Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (wearing a Bruins hat and hoodie) was just hanging out. Again, it's definitely up there in terms of odd sightings. But I'm sure it was a cool moment for Cassidy (a Cowboys fan as a kid and still one to this day, even if he's coaching in Bill Belichick's backyard).
It was also interesting to see countless Bruins players go up to Prescott to welcome him. Bruins captain Zdeno Chara was the first, of course. Charlie Coyle, Charlie McAvoy, and Jake DeBrusk were also among those sharing some jokes and handshakes with the Cowboy quarterback.