So, that’s what a freight train looks like.
Watching the Panthers on Wednesday probably felt similar to how many feel when watching an on-their-game Bruins team. I mean, it’s actually probably how Florida fans felt for the opening 20 minutes of Wednesday’s head-to-head between the Atlantic foes, actually, as the Bruins took it to the undefeated Panthers for almost an entire period.
But when the Panthers forced a break to go their way as Sam Reinhart simply outworked Boston’s biggest forward (Charlie Coyle) and second-biggest defenseman (Derek Forbort) in a board battle while the Panthers made a change and immediately scored the game-tying goal, you saw a juiced-up Florida team find their footing and simply crank it up.
“It was a tough one,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said of the game-tying goal. “They didn’t have a whole lot going. And now they’ve got life coming out of the first period. That’s a goal that shouldn’t have happened.”
That’s just how it goes when you’re feeling it like the Panthers have been since the puck dropped on the new season.
“Our first was excellent. It was 1-1, but we felt pretty good about our game,” said Cassidy. “All the things we did well in the first, specifically manage the puck against a good offensive team, we did the exact opposite in the second period. It started right away. Below the goal line breakouts, got pinned in our end, forced some plays.”
As the Bruins were limited to just two shots in the second period, Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (29 saves) came up with some monstrous stops for Florida, including a denial on an Erik Haula breakaway and a 10-bell stop on Brad Marchand. The Bruins also shot themselves in the foot in the third period, as David Pastrnak didn’t get a shot or a pass off on a two-on-one with Marchand and as Charlie McAvoy got overeager and promptly torched by Anthony Duclair.
“It just snowballed and then you get into chasing the game,” Cassidy said. “And that’s where it got away from us.”
The positive the Bruins can take from this game is that they hung with one of, if not the, best team in the NHL for almost an entire game. An extra save or two or a bit more finish and this game probably goes to overtime. It’s also insanely early, and this was just the first of what will be about a dozen or so ‘measuring stick’ games in an 82-game season.
But one thing’s for sure: these Cats aren’t sneakin’ up on the Bruins.
“They’ve put pieces in place here,” Cassidy noted. “They’ve got a proven coaching staff, they’ve got a goaltender who’s had a lot of success [and] has won a Vezina with a young kid right behind him. Their pieces are in place [but] we’ve got a lot of good pieces in place. We got outplayed a little. It wasn’t like one team dominated. We each had our way in a period.
“In the third, they did what they had to do to put the game away. It just came down to a couple plays at each end where they got a save or they finished. That’s what it came down to. Could’ve easily been the other way.”
The Bruins will get their chance to prove that to be true with a rematch between the sides this Saturday in Boston.
Here are some other thoughts and notes from a 4-1 loss in Sunrise…
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Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.