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Recap: Panthers drop third in a row at home, doubled up 4-2 by Bruins

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Cats hand in another half-hearted effort, lose to division leader in regulation

NHL: DEC 14 Bruins at Panthers Photo by Joel Auerbach/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The last time the Florida Panthers saw the Boston Bruins, the Panthers roared back from a four-goal third period deficit, stunning the Bruins en route to a big divisional win and a record comeback for the Cats.

This time around, Boston made sure that would not happen again.

After a first period in which the Bruins led the Panthers in nearly every statistical category including a 1-0 score, Boston would take total control of the game the rest of the way, easily handling all the Panthers could throw at them and leaving with an easy two points after a 4-2 victory. Florida mounted a bunch of pressure in the third, pulling to within one, but it was far too little and far too late.

Yet again, Florida had nothing going for majority of the game, getting shots from the perimeter and not really challenging the Bruins defense. Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky was busy yet again, ending up with 38 saves on 41 shots, with next to no offensive help from the guys in red sweaters. The top duo of Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov were held off the score sheet again, and the lack of scoring depth the Panthers have is really starting to show. If the top line isn’t potting goals, the team just isn’t much of a threat offensively.

The crowd had a huge amount of Boston fans, with waves of them cheering on the Boston goals and any huge saves by Boston goalie Jaroslav Halak. That can’t be good for morale for the players in Panther sweaters. That being said, they’re not giving the home crowd much to cheer for on this homestand.

Florida has now lost their last three at home, and are squandering a homestand that many thought would let them continue to pile up some points as we approach the halfway mark of the season. Instead, they’ve fallen out of the playoff picture, and although they have some games in hand they are playing as poorly as they have so far this season. They’ll need to figure things out quickly before teams like Montreal and Toronto heat up and open up a wider gap in the standings.

If you want to hear some gloating in a bizarre Northeast accent, I bet you can find it on Stanley Cup of Chowder. If not, be patient until Monday and join us for another home game as the Panthers host the Ottawa Senators, who are surprisingly not all that far behind the Cats in the standings.

Observations

  • Barkov went awkwardly into the boards late in the third period and left the ice due to injury. If the captain is going to be out any length of time, the Panthers are going to be really thin up the middle of the ice. Let’s all hope Barkov is going to be alright.
  • The Panthers need a little lesson in forechecking. Often when a player dumps the puck in, one or even two players absolutely have to be going full speed to retrieve the dump-in. 90% of the time the Cats are second to the puck, negating any possession in the offensive zone and getting one or even two forwards caught deep while the opposition goes the other way. I don’t know if it’s a hustle thing, or if it’s puck placement on the dump-in, but the Panthers aren’t very good at it and as a result can’t get a solid forecheck going. (Not you, Colton Sceviour, you are good at it.)
  • Ekblad is having probably his best season as an NHL defenseman, leading the club in minutes per game and scoring at a pace that will hopefully end up in a new career high in points. What’s most impressive, however, is how well he’s playing defensively against the top players on the other team every night. He’s got a ton of tough minutes logged and has looked up to the task. This might be the year that Ekblad takes that proverbial next step that vaults him into a blue-chip defenseman role.
  • The Bruins are such a complete team from top to bottom. They’ve done a fantastic job of putting together a super-dangerous top line and depth scoring, solid forechecking and a stifling defensive system. Head coach Bruce Cassidy should get a lot of credit for having this group firing on all cylinders right now.
  • The Cats are not getting anywhere near enough traffic in front of the net when point shots are coming in, allowing the opposing netminder to see the puck with relative ease. Florida has some big bodies with great hands, and they need to find a way to do a better job taking the eyes away from the goalie. Instead they’re nowhere near the net, and pretty much all the rebounds against the Bruins went untouched.
  • Bobrovsky had another solid game without much help from the team in front of him. As has been said by many already, the Cats are wasting his efforts the last few games.
  • Head coach Joel Quenneville experimented with Vincent Trocheck on the top line with Huberdeau and Barkov, likely in an attempt to get Vinny going and throw a little scoring balance into the lineup. Let’s just say it didn’t work. Trocheck has been offensively inept the majority of this season and is a shadow of the player who posted 75 points two seasons ago. He’s a huge part of the Panthers and I think everyone is rooting for him to find his mojo again.