Florida Panthers Pinched by Boston Bruins, 3-1


Oct 30, 2015; Sunrise, FL, USA; Florida Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo (1) watches from the bench after being pulled late in the third period of a game against the Boston Bruins at BB&T Center. The Bruins won 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Panthers lost a frustrating game to the Boston Bruins Friday night, and it wasn’t all that pleasing to behold.  The Panthers trailed from 7:57 on, and didn’t seem that threatening to close the gap.  The Panthers are now 5-4-1 on the year, but can redeem their performance against the Capitals tomorrow night, once again at home.

Let’s just dive right into it:


The Panthers did score one goal.  Well, credit where credit is due.  Nick Bjugstad cleaned up a very tidy 5-on-3 chance: good passing and puck possession, good shot on Rask, and good positioning to be there for the rebound.  That would be the last goal of the game, but it was something nice.

Good first few minutes.  For the first 7:57 of the game, the Panthers had good pep in their step and already had six promising shots on goal.  Two of those were breakaways on Rask, when the Panthers made good neutral zone passes to catch the Bruins’ defensemen off-guard.  However, they couldn’t capitalize on those chances and Reilly Smith committed a crap penalty.  Soon it was 1-0 Bruins, giving them a lead they would not relinquish.  And the Panthers would only muster one more shot in the period.

It’s still early.  Yeah, it sucks losing to the Bruins but it sucks a lot less in October than in March.  The Panthers will face them again while healthy, and then we’ll take a closer look.  For now, just refocus for Saturday and get a big win against Washington.


Bad time to start playing like crap.  Watching the game tonight, I was reminded of a Deadspin article about the Boston Red Sox rotation this year, which was made up of players like Wade Miley, Justin Masterson, and Rick Porcello.  They’re good pieces, but that’s about it:

"“They’re all worth taking a chance on to fill out a pennant contender’s rotation. They cannot be that rotation, however, unless you want that rotation to suck.”"

That’s what happened to the Panthers tonight.  Role players like Jussi Jokinen, Reilly Smith, and Brandon Pirri were forced to  create the offense essentially by themselves.  They’d be good options with 15-16 minutes of ice time and favorable match-ups, but these guys are not the Panthers’ staff aces.  And with the pressure weighing heavily on their shoulders, they seemed completely out of sorts.  Jokinen made multiple terrible passes, even on the man-advantage.  Pirri wasn’t often, if ever, in a good position to shoot, and didn’t pass well to boot.  In the first period, Reilly Smith turned the puck over along the boards, hooked the Bruin that took the puck, and seconds later the Bruins had a power play goal.  The Panthers needed these players to pitch a gem, if you don’t mind me saying, but they just didn’t have the stuff.

Injuries play a big role.  I had the feeling multiple times that the game would feel much different with Barkov and Jagr, or perhaps just one of those guys.  Without those two, the Panthers just never felt as dangerous in front of the net, as slick with their passing, or as capable of pulling the puck away from the boards.  Those guys are simply irreplaceable.

Need a better offensive strategy.  The Panthers were never really able to play the offensive game they wanted to play.  Most of the time, the puck was stuck on the sideboards or in the corner.  Boston blocked shots if the Panthers tried to shoot from the point (17 blocked shots for Boston, just 6 for Florida).  Any shots that made their way through were stopped by Tuukka Rask, who was fantastic for the Bruins.  Claude Julien got his team to slow the game down and get the puck as far away from the net as possible.  As it turns out, that’s a great strategy against a Panthers team without Barkov or Jagr.  The Panthers need to find a way to pull the puck off the boards, then start a passing combination to free up shooting lanes.  It would help if the goalie isn’t as hot as Rask was tonight, but you can count you won’t see too many performances like that this year.