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Bruins lost their discipline and defensive play in the Game 2 loss to Panthers
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Bruins lost their discipline and defensive play in the Game 2 loss to Panthers

During their 100th anniversary, it was a return to their wild and crazy Big Bad Bruins day for the Bruins. All it was missing was a retired Wayne Cashman, now a Florida resident, who jumped from the stands and hit a two-hander over the head of Matthew Tkachuk.

In Cashman’s absence, Pastrnak tried it himself, with the elite Czech winger jumping on Tkachuk and driving away. Quite a discrepancy from the story on the tape: Tkachuk is 6-foot-4, 206 pounds and Pastrnak is 6-0, 196. But Pasta held his ground.

When the Panthers eliminated the Bruins in Round 1 last season, Boston lacked a physical response as the series slipped through the hands after taking a 3-1 series lead. They took a beating on the scoreboard here in Game 2, but made it known that at least they wouldn’t watch again and be washed out of the rematch.

Just as the Bruins turned Game 1 their way with three goals in the middle period, the Panthers bounced back two nights later with three goals of their own in the second.

The last of the three really hurt, Gustav Forsling connecting with two seconds on the clock. Anton Lundell, with possession deep in the zone, shuttled the puck along the wall toward the left point and Forsling scored a one-timer, with the Panthers carrying the two-goal lead into the break.

▪ For the first time this season, the Bruins entered the third period trailing by two goals. Deep hole to climb out of anywhere, but especially on the road.

▪ Poor defensive coverage, with Steven Lorentz left alone low in the slot, gave the Panthers the 1-1 tie just 1:56 into the second. Lorentz could have made the tip anyway, following Brandon Montour’s one-timer, but it was made all the easier when Bruins defensemen Derek Forbort and Parker Wotherspoon were missing from the action.

▪ Ex-Sabre Kyle Okposo didn’t get his name on the go-ahead score, 2-1, but he made the decisive play, a shocking goal along the wall that left Charlie McAvoy without his stick. McAvoy also suffered a cut on his right eye, his face was smashed into the glass.

Finally, Aleksander Barkov collected a rebound after a short-range bid from Sam Reinhart, and the tenacious McAvoy could not prevent the clever Barkov from clearing the ball.

McAvoy later had to duck into the locker room for stitches. However, nothing could close the open wound that was Boston’s defensive end.

▪ The Panthers didn’t come out with the furious forecheck they rolled out in Game 1. Their offense was not cautious, but was stifled by a Boston game plan that was considered pulverized from the start. Preparation dampened the Panthers’ effectiveness. They live off the forelimb. The Bruins did not allow them oxygen.

▪ Matthew Tkachuk, ever the instigator, was up to his antics from the start, jabbing both Jeremy Swayman and Brandon Carlo during a whistle at 0:17. Amid the pushing, shoving and pushing, Justin Brazeau removed Tkachuk’s helmet, earring Brazeau for two minutes in the penalty box.

Losing discipline around Tkachuk is not a recipe for success.

▪ The Bruins effectively killed the small call on Brazeau and then, again doing nothing on their first power play of the night, Anton Lundell whistled for tripping Brad Marchand. The Bruins enter the competition without a power-play goal in their previous four games (0-for-7) after going a blistering 6-for-13 against the Leafs in the first four games of Round 1.

▪ It is not essential to score on advantage to win. The Bruins ran away with a 5-1 victory in Game 1 without a fight on the PP. But beneficial goals often make work a lot easier. There was nothing easy for the Bruins here in Game 2. It went from OK, to a struggle, to a defeat.

▪ Coyle’s goal at 12:12 of the first was the 25th of his career (115 playoff games) and was also his first of the postseason. He struggled through the Toronto series, both on offense and on the face-off. Maybe finally getting on the scoresheet will spark his offensive game. He almost connected again at 16:57 when his wrister sounded off the faceoff circle on the right wing of the near post.

▪ The Bruins’ other best chance in the first came at 6:30 when Johnny Beecher and Brazeau walked the ice together in a 2-on-1 vs. Gustav Forsling. The two exchanged passes near the top of the crease, with Sergei Bobrovsky turning back Brazeau’s mistake.

▪ The two sides scored 49 goals (Florida with 29) in the first period, a pace that was even better than Game 1 when they combined for 102 goals (Florida with 96)

▪ The Bruins were much better on the faceoff in the first period, winning 59 percent of 17 drops. In Game 1, they lost 60 percent of faceoffs, continuing a troubling trend that started in the Toronto series.

“I think we have to throw in more sticks and win it as a five-man unit,” said a concerned Jim Montgomery after morning practice. ‘Everyone has to help on the lines, dive in. . . We need to have a little more intensity in the confrontation.”

▪ The Bruins were assessed another penalty for too many men on the ice at 15:48 of the second. That’s their fifth in nine postseason games. Not a good look. Also inexcusable at the NHL level – or even bantam hockey.

▪ When Eetu Luostarinen made it 5-1 early in the second inning after a series of Bruins defensive mistakes, Jim Montgomery decided it was time for Jeremy Swayman to take some rest after seven straight starts.

Smart move. The game was out of reach and Montgomery will want to return with Swayman for Game 5 at the Garden on Friday night.

As Swayman left the ice, Montgomery met him on the bench, no doubt telling his ace that he didn’t blame him for the ugly math on the scoreboard.


Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at [email protected].