Boston Bruins

  • The increasing-legitimate and totally-reasonable hopes of an 80-2-0 season were sadly dashed Wednesday night in Sunrise. Just when I was ready to copyright all variations of ’80-2-0′ and create the Etsy shop, too. El-P really wasn’t playing when he said, “Finally, the money up and print on the kid and the planet hit skids.” 

    No, but really, as fun as it would be to stomp your feet over a 5-2 loss to the Panthers, the fact of the matter is that losses like the one the Bruins suffered in Wednesday are going to happen. They’ll probably have at least 20 to 25 more of ’em, to be exact.

    But if there’s a positive to be found within the first three defeats of the Black and Gold’s 2022-23 season, it’s that it takes an awful lot to defeat this team.

    On the ice at FLA Live Arena — sick arena name, was every other option ever said or thought up by a human being taken? — in search of their eighth straight victory, the Bruins found themselves in an 0-1 hole just 108 seconds into play by way of a Sam Reinhart power-play goal. It would be the first of a season-high (for the Panthers) and season-worst (for the Bruins) three-power-play goals scored/surrendered on a night that saw the Bruins shorthanded a season-high seven times.

    (In case you’re curious, this was just the 14th instance of a team being shorthanded at least seven times in one game in 2022-23, with no team shorthanded more than the Oilers were with 10 trips to the kill in an Oct. 27 win over Chicago.)

    The Panthers’ Spencer Knight also became the first goaltender to face at least 35 shots from Boston shooters and win. He finished with 37 saves in a performance that saved the Panthers early and often on the way to a three-goal victory.

    To recap, to beat the Bruins, it required a penalty box parade we’ve seen just 14 times out of 634 occasions this season (2.2 percent of all games this season), and a goaltender standing on his head against the Bruins for the first time all year.

    This has been a theme of sorts, too.

    When the Bruins suffered their first loss of the season, it came on the second leg of a back-to-back and with the Senators waiting at home and more than jacked up for what was their home opener. The Bruins erased a three-goal deficit in that game, and almost erased another three-goal deficit before a four-on-four breakdown gave Ottawa the win.

    And when the Bruins fell in Toronto, the team was by all means distracted by their own front office, which went against the desires and wishes of the players and signed controversial prospect Mitchell Miller. Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron later admitted that the signing created a distraction for the team, and that they had to ‘deal with it’ for the weekend. They still only lost that game by a single goal, and came damn close to tying things up before the clock ran out on them.

    They’re not quite Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers, but they are damn close. And that’s not lost on their opponents, even when they come up short.

    “It’s a dangerous team,” Panthers head coach Paul Maurice said of the Bruins following his team’s victory. “[They’re] playing with a tremendous amount of confidence.”

    Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov also noted that his team ‘played the best way they possible could’ in this game.

    Things like that can and should make you feel better so long as that’s the case over the next 20 or so losses that will inevitably follow.

    Here are some other thoughts and notes from a streak-snapping loss in Florida

  • Montgomery went for one helluva of an interesting home run in third period

    Nov 23, 2022; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Boston Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery talks to his players during the third period against the Florida Panthers at FLA Live Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro/USA TODAY Sports

    Nov 23, 2022; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Boston Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery talks to his players during the third period against the Florida Panthers at FLA Live Arena. (Sam Navarro/USA TODAY Sports)

  • Move over, Patrick Roy, because there’s a new top absolute, confirmed psycho — and please, Montgomery, on the off chance that you’re reading this know that I mean that in the best way possible — behind an NHL bench.

    With the Bruins down by multiple goals nearing the midway through the third period of play, Montgomery decided to pull Jeremy Swayman for the extra attacker during a four-on-four sequence.

    Oh, I loved this. It obviously didn’t lead to a goal, but if there was ever a time to try something new and exciting, it was in this game and at that point in the game. And with this being a four-on-four turned five-on-four for the Bruins, the Panthers would not have been able to go for long-range bombs without consequence, as it would’ve been an icing. The Bruins were also rolling on the man advantage (both of their goals in this game came on the power play, and they entered play with goals on nine of their last 20 tries).

    I would’ve been curious to see what would have happened by the end of the night had the Bruins converted on this. Talk about giving your team an absolute lift to the Moon confidence-wise.

  • McAvoy is off to electric start to season

    Nov 23, 2022; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy (73) celebrates after scoring during the first period against the Florida Panthers at FLA Live Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro/USA TODAY Sports

    Nov 23, 2022; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy (73) celebrates after scoring during the first period against the Florida Panthers at FLA Live Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

  • Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy’s recovery from offseason shoulder surgery was all about “checking boxes.” It was said again and again and again during his rehab process. Even to the point where McAvoy would find himself unable to hold back his grin whenever he was about to mention it.

    And while I must admit that I have no idea what exactly those boxes were, I’m increasingly inclined to believe that ‘super, Norris-winning serum’ was one of them.

    Since McAvoy returned to the lineup on Nov. 10, the 24-year-old franchise defenseman has recorded two goals and 10 points in seven games played. Only Bobby Orr (four different times from 1969 to 1975) and Ray Bourque (1989-90) required fewer games to hit the 10-point mark among defensemen in Bruins history.

    Forget defensemen, in fact, as only four players have outscored McAvoy since Nov. 13. That list includes Buffalo’s Alex Tuch, Florida’s Matthew Tkachuk, Stars winger Jason Robertson, and Penguins captain Sidney Crosby.

    Pretty decent start to the season.

  • B’s sliding penalty kill hits rock bottom

    Nov 23, 2022; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Florida Panthers center Carter Verhaeghe (23) moves the puck ahead of Boston Bruins center Pavel Zacha (18) during the second period at FLA Live Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro/USA TODAY Sports

    Nov 23, 2022; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Florida Panthers center Carter Verhaeghe (23) moves the puck ahead of Boston Bruins center Pavel Zacha (18) during the second period at FLA Live Arena. (Sam Navarro/USA TODAY Sports)

  • Let’s call Wednesday what it was for the B’s penalty kill: A nightmare. Rock bottom.

    We can get into the nature of the penalties that were called — more than a few were softer than normal — but at a certain point you gotta just swallow it and accept the hand you’re dealt and adapt. The Bruins didn’t quite do that, and against a power play with as much as talent as the Panthers’ top unit, that spelled trouble.

    On the board with three power-play goals on seven opportunities, the Panthers beat the Bruins into their fifth straight game of allowing at least one power-play goal.

    That’s their longest power-play goal against streak since the team allowed power-play goals in six straight games during their COVID nightmare spell from December through January last season.

    Boston’s penalty kill percentage over this five-game slide, in case you’re wondering, is just 65.2 percent, which begins Thursday ranked 29th in the NHL. And though it shockingly hasn’t dropped the Bruins all that much on the year-to-date leaderboard — they’ve only dropped from first (94.4 percent on Nov. 12) to second in the NHL at 85.7 percent — the Bruins know they’re gonna have to stop the bleeding.

    Bad news: That won’t get any easier for the Bruins, with four of their next six games against top-10 power-play units in the NHL between two games against the Avalanche (top power play in the NHL), a home-ice showdown with the Lightning (ninth-best power play in the league), and road game with the Coyotes (eighth-best).

    The good news: The return of Derek Forbort, who was the absolute rock of Boston’s penalty kill prior to his injury back on Nov. 1, appears to be around the corner.

  • Everything else…

    Nov 23, 2022; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Linesman Kilian McNamara (93) gets in between Florida Panthers left wing Ryan Lomberg (94) and Boston Bruins center David Krejci (46) as they push each other during the second period at FLA Live Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro/USA TODAY Sports

    Nov 23, 2022; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Linesman Kilian McNamara (93) gets in between Florida Panthers left wing Ryan Lomberg (94) and Boston Bruins center David Krejci (46) as they push each other at FLA Live Arena. (Sam Navarro/USA TODAY Sports)

    • Career game No. 800 for Craig Smith on Wednesday night. It’s been a tough year for Smith between scratches and inconsistencies, and his Wednesday should have been better for him on the scoresheet, at least if we look at the numbers. Deployed for just over nine minutes of five-on-five play, the Bruins out-attempted the Panthers 13-5 and outshot ’em 10-1 with Smith on the ice. The problem: The one shot that the Panthers took ended up in the back of the B’s net. It’s been that kind of year for Smith, but the Bruins should really see if they can get him going offensively, because he’s always been a streaky player and could be on the cusp of a breakout.

    • Another player struggling to find his footing? Jakub Zboril. Back in action after two straight scratches, Zboril played a game-low 7:17, and was outright benched in the third period of play. Zboril first got into trouble when he looked behind him and essentially let Sam Reinhart waltz in and grab a puck behind and to the left of Swayman’s net. Reinhart fed it to Nick Cousins, and Cousins found Anton Lundell for an easy goal. Just an absolutely brutal sequence that really and needlessly accelerated the B’s downfall in this one. At the same time, you feel for Zboril, because it’s tough to find your footing and your confidence when you’re not playing regularly. It won’t get any easier for him when Forbort returns to action in the coming days and weeks.

    • Matthew Tkachuk landing in the Atlantic Division was probably one of the worst things that could’ve happened for the Bruins. Tkachuk factored in on the Panthers’ two biggest goals of the night, and is now up to five goals and 13 points in 12 career games against the Bruins between the Flames and Panthers.

    • Give us a seven-game series between these teams and you will hate Ryan Lomberg within five minutes. Man, you might already be there with the way Lomberg has played in the two head-to-heads between these teams.

    • People have a whole lotta opinions about the Panthers’ Reverse Retro jerseys. Perhaps the powder blue isn’t your bag, and that’s OK. But the palm tree-hockey stick combo with the sun behind it? An elite secondary logo. I’ll be damned if you’re gonna sit here and tell me that isn’t knowing your location and your audience perfectly. That said, all Florida-based hockey team logos will pale in comparison to the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears.