It is probably safe to say that Jonathan Huberdeau and Jacob Markstrom never had to go up against an opponent like Zdeno Chara in their respective pre-NHL hockey careers. The two youngsters got burned by the 6’9” Bruin blue liner when he pulled a way-too-graceful-for-his-size spin move to elude Huberdeau before roofing a perfectly placed backhand shot past Markstrom. The goal was the second in an eventual 4-1 Bruins win in Bost…er… Florida. (sorry I was confused by all the vocal Bruins fans creating a road atmosphere for the Panthers) Titanic hulking defenders should not be physically capable of the type of moves pulled by Chara so Huberdeau and Markstrom are off the hook this time. But now they know, the dude has got skills, next time they won’t end up looking so foolish. (hopefully)
Milan Lucic got the scoring started for the Bruins in the first period, followed by Chara’s beauty giving the B’s an early 2-0 lead. Tomas Kopecky scored a Kopeckian goal brining the Panthers within one. The goal was Kopecky’s fifth of the season and was assisted on by Tomas Fleischmann and, newly minted number 15, Drew Shore. (By the way, I just made up “Kopeckian goal” and it means any goal begotten from grinding away in front of the net as Tomas Kopecky so often does. Don’t ask me how to pronounce it, I have no idea.)
The Panthers had their opportunities but were stymied by Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask. Rask came into the game with a .976 GAA and a .969 save % against the Panthers. Rask continued his dominance stopping 34 of 35 shots bringing his record to 5-1 against Floirda. (source) Jacob Markstrom made his second straight start since being called up by the Panthers. Markstrom stopped 28 of 31 putting together another solid performance despite not being rewarded with a win.
The Panthers scratched Filip Kuba with an upper body injury thus explaining the call up of defenseman Colby Robak. Robak received 14:51 of ice time and was plus 1 on the game. Before the game, I speculated about the possibility of a trade due to all the recent Panther call ups i.e. Robak, Santorelli, Markstrom. While it appears Robak’s call up was injury related, I would not rule out a trade especially given GM Dale Tallon‘s propensity for making mid-season deals. If a trade were to happen I think it would involve moving one of the three Panther goalies currently on the roster, obviously not Markstrom, so possibly Theodore or Clemmensen.
Tonight’s loss brings Florida’s record to 5-9-4. They currently sit five points out of the 8th playoff spot and also sit five points behind Tampa Bay for the Southeast division lead. Boston improved to 11-2-2 and despite having played three fewer games, the Bruins are only two points behind the Eastern Conference leading Montreal Canadiens.
The Panthers have the day off tomorrow before playing a home game against the Penguins Tuesday night.
P.S. here are my Oscar two cents: Argo wins Best Picture, Daniel Day Lewis wins Best Actor, Jennifer Lawrence wins Best Actress and Steven Spielberg wins Best Director.