Looking at the Boston Bruins' schedule about a week ago, you might have hoped the team would have their fun against Winnipeg and overlook the Cats like so many other teams have. That wouldn't be the case though, Boston would drop a lame one to the Jets and seek vengeance against Florida. With leading scorer Tyler Seguin back in the lineup, you knew the Florida Panthers would have a tough time against a team who'd been so dominant since October. The Bruins came to play, and the Panthers did too. And the Panthers won.
When do these victories start to carry weight in the eyes of our friends writing stories on TSN or on the Montreal Gazette? When is Theodore going to earn his fair share of respect? Is this the game when people begin to believe the Cats are for real? If the Panthers weren't believing in themselves and their ability to shock even the toughest teams, they wouldn't be sitting pretty at second in the conference. Whether others have to slowly grasp this reality or not, Florida is not going to roll over no matter how tough the opponent or rigorous the schedule or debilitating the injuries. Perhaps tonight they've finally convinced the league that this isn't the same team from last year. You've all heard quotes from the locker room, that "We can beat any team in the league". Finally this seems to be the case.
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1st: Jose Theodore would be back in net after a brief illness, and Tim Thomas would be between the pipes for the Bruins. Krys Barch, fresh from the Stars would make a big hit along the boards which would result in a fight with Shawn Thornton, the two would earn fighting majors along with a charging penalty for Barch. Florida would keep the Bruins' powerplay mostly uneventful with only a couple of shots on net. After the Bruins hit the post for the third time, Mike Santorelli would trip up a Bruin for Boston's second powerplay of the period. Again, the Bruins wouldn't muster much on the powerplay. Towards the end of the period Florida would get some good chances from the 1st and 4th lines, but Thomas would cover them all. The period would end with the score remaining 0-0.
2nd: As the second period started, Florida would look much better with most of the action around Thomas instead of Theodore. Brad Marchand would elbow Tim Kennedy in the defensive zone, but the powerplay wouldn't get much going. Brian Campbell would take a delay of game penalty at about the midway point of the period, Nathan Horton would have an open net to shoot at but Theodore robbed him. Barch would take his second minor of the game with a holding penalty, Boston would hit the post twice more but the puck would stay out of the net. Santorelli would take a big hit from Johnny Boychuk and Skille would drop the gloves in defense of his teammate, both would receive fighting majors. Stephen Weiss would have his tap-in attempt blocked late in the period, so the game would remain scoreless after 40.
3rd: Jose Theodore would be busy in the first few minutes of the third including huge saves on Horton and Milan Lucic. The Skille-Samuelsson-Sturm line would punch in a few good shifts but Thomas and the Bruins' defense kept the puck away from the crease. With Boston dominating the shot-count in the third, the Panthers would rely heavily on Theodore for most of the period. In case you hadn't noticed at this point in the game, it seemed we would be heading to a 1-0 game, whether in regulation or overtime. Well, it would be Florida taking the one goal lead after Tomas Kopecky sunk a rare rebound off of Thomas after a great rush by Shawn Matthias and Sean Bergenhiem with about two minutes remaining. With 1:30 remaining Thomas would head to the bench, Kris Versteeg would out-skate a Bruin to the puck and tap in an empty net goal(assists to Tomas Fleischmann and Brian Campbell). And just like that, the game was over. Panthers win a huge one.
- Rich Peverley doesn't get much talk being hidden on the Bruins' lower lines, but he's a huge part of Boston's offense. Think of him as Marty Reasoner from last season.
- Not super enthusiastic about Barch's first shift (he earned a penalty), but I do like his physicality. He didn't instigate the subsequent fight either, so that's always a plus.
- By my unofficial count, Boston rang the iron 4 times in the first period. Either Theodore was forcing shots to the outside or the Bruins have the accuracy of Jack Skille.
- Brian Campbell took his first penalty of the season. He's on par for 3 on the season.
- I hate Brad Marchand. Something about the shape of his face.
- Erik Gudbranson has really found his NHL legs, his confidence has increased greatly in the last two weeks.
- Good to finally see Mikael Samuelsson lace up the skates. Even after a long rehab process he was creating good chances, I can't wait to see him hit his stride.
- Three cheers to Jose Theodore with his second shutout of the year, a fantastic 40 save effort. Stick-tap to the posts as well.
- Hits? 19-16 Florida. That's two games in a row the Cats have out-hit their opponent.
- And the best part of tonight's win? We hadn't beat Boston since a 1-0 victory on April Fool's day 2010.