The Boston Bruins (9-5-1) have been struggling lately and while it is still early in the season, Boston cannot afford to leave points out on the ice because of lack luster efforts. Since back to back five goal efforts against the Tampa Bay Lightning (11-4-0) and Buffalo Sabres (3-14-1) however, the team has played inconsistently, on their way to a 2-4 record in their last six games going in to the matchup against the Florida Panthers (3-9-4) last night. The visit from the Panthers presented the Bruins with a good opportunity to right the ship against the struggling team from Florida that had not won a game in their last six contests.
Early on, the Bruins resembled the inconsistent club that had been mediocre in recent games, having stretches of both good and bad play. For the first period and a half, the team was not able to string together back to back good shifts; letting the inferior Panthers stay in the game.
Boston finally picked up their play early in the second period and was able to score, 7:17 into the period. The goal came off a slapshot from David Krejci, his third goal of the year. The play started with a faceoff win by Krejci in the offensive zone, and some good work by both Dougie Hamilton and Zdeno Chara led to the Krejci slapshot from the blue line that snuck by the screened Panther goalie.
The Bruins never looked back after the goal, scoring three more times in the third period, winning easily 4-1 over the Panthers. The win was almost secondary, as I expected the team to be able to beat the Panthers, even if they struggled. The thing that I was really looking for was whether or not the team could put together a consistent sixty minute effort. While I did not get sixty minutes, I did get about thirty-five minutes where the Boston Bruins played like they are capable of playing.
Two things from last night’s victory were especially nice to see. One was the team’s ability to get good play from all four lines, and the other was the play of Brad Marchand.
The Bruins are known as a team with great depth and last night they were able to show they are still capable of rolling all four lines consistently. The first, second and third lines all scored and the fourth line pitched in with high intensity and two fights. It was the first time in quite a while that each line played well for the majority of the game. They will have to continue to do so if they want to plan on putting a winning streak together.
While I have been especially tough on Marchand this season, even calling for him to be benched, last night was his best game this year. He scored a goal (even though in all honesty it looked like the puck would have trickled in the net without his help), created scoring chances with his skating, skated hard on the backcheck and was that annoying presence on the ice for the other team. Marchand often plays right on the line of dirty, not dirty, which is why even the penalty he received for elbowing midway through the third period was nice to see because he is at his best when he plays that style of hockey.
“It’s really nice to finally get one,” Marchand said. “It’s been a while and I forget what it felt like, but it’s only a lucky goal like that and it’s nice to get the monkey off the back.” Marchand is a big reason why the Bruins have been so successful and if he can get it going, the team will be in good shape going forward.
Overall, the win itself was nice, but the way they played was even better. Although it was not the complete sixty-minute effort I had hoped for, the team showed signs that they are turning a corner. They’ll have to continue their solid play on Saturday 7pm (ET), when the divisional rival Toronto Maple Leafs (10-5-0) come to Boston.