The Boston Bruins faced their third straight undefeated team Wednesday night against the Florida Panthers. This time, the results flipped.
Coming off victories against the previously unbeaten Sabres and Sharks, the Bruins started off hot in South Florida. A Charlie Coyle shot from behind the net deflected off Sergei Bobrovsky’s skates to give them a 1-0 lead 10:37. The Bruins outshot the Panthers 15-5 in the opening 20 only to enter the locker room tied at 1-1 after a bad line change led to Mason Marchment’s first of the season after Sam Reinhart won a puck battle along the boards with two Bruins in the vicinity.
Bruce Cassidy watched as the defensive breakdowns piled up in the final 40. Eetu Luostorainen put Florida ahead for good 2:08 into the middle stanza, beating Connor Clifton in front of the net for a tip-in tally.
Highlighted by a save on a 2-on-0 rush during a second-period Bruins power play, Linus Ullmark did all he could to keep the Bruins afloat. His teammates pushed back in the third, searching for the equalizer with several quality looks but fell victim again to costly blunders. An Anthony Duclair mini-breakaway tally and Owen Tippett’s empty-netter secured Florida’s seventh straight win.
“All of the things we did well in the first period, specifically manage the puck against a good offensive team, we did the exact opposite in the second. It started right away,” Cassidy told the media following Boston’s 4-1 setback. “It snowballed in the second period and that’s where it got away from us.”
We’ll dissect Boston’s second loss of the season in a bit. But first, it’s time to address a proverbial “elephant in the room.”
Joel Quenneville should not be coaching
The fallout from an independent investigation into what the Blackhawks knew about regarding former staffer Brad Aldrich’s sexual assault on the lawsuit’s plaintiff — known as “John Doe” — from 2010 began Tuesday with the public release of its findings. The resignations began shortly after, beginning with former team president Stan Bowman and senior director of hockey operations Al MacIsaac.
Quenneville coached the Blackhawks during that 2010 season ending in a Stanley Cup triumph, Chicago’s first championship since the 1960-61 campaign. His name appeared in the report conducted by the Jenner & Block law firm. He denied having any knowledge of the events.
The league will meet with Quenneville on Thursday to further discuss the matter. Yet, with all the details now in the public domain, Quenneville undoubtedly shouldn’t have been behind the bench for Wednesday’s matchup. Quite frankly, he should’ve lost his coaching privileges long ago.
Kyle Beach appeared with investigative reporter Rick Westhead on TSN Wednesday night as the Panthers and Bruins hit the ice for warmups. He revealed himself as “John Doe” from the investigative report. He deserves all the credit for coming forward and sharing his experience from that horrific night more than a decade ago.
Not only did Quenneville coach — even in the aftermath of Beach’s public display of courage — but he declined to speak to the media afterward. The disparity between Quenneville and Beach’s characters couldn’t go any further.
Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane spoke after Tuesday’s Blackhawks-Maple Leafs contest. Given their cringeworthy praise of Bowman and their attempt at an apology, it’s hard to imagine Quenneville not taking a similar route if he spoke behind the podium.
The league could’ve conducted its own investigation. They punted on the matter. And they won’t deserve any credit if they ban Quenneville, former assistant GM Kevin Cheveldayoff — now a GM with the Winnipeg Jets — and everyone complicit with the hellacious coverup.
Snowball effect begins with first period equalizer
Boston’s two-game road swing against a pair of preseason darlings in the Panthers and Hurricanes provides a good early-season litmus test. The Bruins dominated the first 10-15 minutes of play and sustained a healthy attacking zone presence as they entered desperation mode in the final 20.
But the time in between saw Cassidy’s squad chasing play. A mix of costly turnovers, puck mismanagement and untimely line changes snowballed, beginning with Marchment’s equalizer.
The Bruins had numbers in their favor along the walls with Reinhart trying to sustain possession during a Florida line change. Yet, even with five white sweaters in the vicinity, Reinhart somehow escaped as he slid the puck to Marchment in the slot, left uncovered by Taylor Hall. With an open shooting lane, Marchment promptly tied the game at 1-1 with 5:54 left in the opening frame.
“Taylor Hall should be on the dot line. There’s no reason for him not to [be there]. He was on the right side of the pile, but he needs to be more [in the] interior. And then you can’t lose a battle. It was one guy in the zone against five. The other three guys aren’t going to run over there and it’s not going to be a 5-on-1,” Cassidy said of the loose defensive coverage of Florida’s period tally.
“That’s a hard-working goal by them. We don’t eat the puck, close quick enough, and we don’t get a save. So certainly a shared responsibility on that one. It was a tough one. They didn’t have a whole lot going, and now they have life coming out of the first period. That’s a goal that shouldn’t have happened.”
The Bruins only allowed five shots on goal in that opening frame. But a skilled and opportunistic Panthers bunch generated needed momentum on Marchment’s tally — and they never looked back.
“I think it just got away from us,” Clifton told the press. “They obviously have a heavy forecheck and forced a lot of mistakes, especially on my part. I guess we’ll watch video and break it down, but obviously, it wasn’t good enough.”
Thursday’s film session ahead of another tough matchup with Carolina will show more than just defensive blunders. It will also highlight some rough moments from one of their top playmakers.
David Pastrnak looked shaky
Like many of his teammates, Pastrnak looked prime for another solid night. But he hardly found his footing after generating some solid scoring opportunities in the opening frame.
Pastrnak fired four of his six shots on net in the first 20 minutes. He hardly displayed that assertive offensive eye when the Bruins needed it the most in the final 40. Instead, he became passive with the puck on his stick in the attacking end, notably in a 2-on-1 rush with Brad Marchand in the third period, where Pastrnak held the puck for too long before losing possession.
Florida’s stout defensive layers kept the potent top line of Marchand, Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron in check. The trio each ended their pointless nights with a minus-2 rating. Given their impressive track record, they shouldn’t remain down for long, but surely the Bruins will need a well-rounded effort from Pastrnak, Marchand, Bergeron and the other 17 skaters in Thursday’s tilt with the 5-0-0 ‘Canes.
Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.
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