The Boston Bruins were missing two more players (Zdeno Chara and Jake DeBrusk – both out with upper-body injuries) in their starting lineup on Thursday night, then lost another in the first period on a very controversial match penalty to David Backes. The missing pieces finally caught up to the B’s, as they were shutout for the first time since October 9th in a 3-0 loss to the Florida Panthers at Sunrise, FL.
Here are my six Extra Beats, discussing what went wrong and how in the world David Backes earned 17 penalty minutes and a trip to the locker room (I still have no idea):
- The one-sided fight that cost the Bruins another player.
Somehow this hit, and this fight, got Backes 17 penalty minutes while the person actually throwing all the punches only got two minutes in the box:
— The Hockey Epic (@thehockeyepic) March 16, 2018
While Backes did make contact with the head, it wasn’t intentional or vicious, so how he got kicked out of the game is pretty baffling to me. Let’s all hope that this doesn’t lead to another suspension, because another missing player is not what this Bruins team needs as they limp down the stretch to the postseason.
- More defensive blunders in the first.
I know that the Bruins are missing two defensemen – Charlie McAvoy and Chara – and have a third that was a game-time decision – Torey Krug – but they cannot have breakdowns like the ones that produced Florida’s first two goals. They allowed a defenseman to not only park himself in the crease but be open and unmarked on the first goal from Aaron Ekblad. Nick Holden was badly beat up ice by Nick Bjugstad on the second tally, as Boston turned a 3-on-3 into a 3-on-2 and a second goal within the first ten minutes of action. The defense has been pretty porous since McAvoy injured his knee, and the absence of Chara for at least the rest of the week is showing a weakness in blue-line depth as the end of the regular season comes to a close.
- Reimer excellent in net yet again vs. the Bruins.
James Reimer entered the game with a .927 save percentage in his career against the B’s, but still had a losing record (7-8-3). Reimer was spectacular on Thursday night, stopping all 46 shots that he faced, including 20 in the final period of regulation. Reimer did a good job controlling and preventing rebounds, as the book on him coming into the game was that he would make the first save but struggle on the second or third chance. Reimer earned his third shutout of the season and first against the B’s, as Boston failed to score for the first time since the second game of the regular season. Reimer did get some help from his teammates, as Jonathan Huberdeau made the save of the night during a scrum at the front of the net on one of Boston’s best scoring chances of the game:
— FOX Sports Florida (@FOXSportsFL) March 16, 2018
- Gutsy performance from Torey Krug.
Krug was dealing with a lower-body injury entering the contest, yet led the B’s with eight shots on net and a ridiculous 26:35 of ice time. Krug took a shot along the boards in the third period from Vincent Trocheck (who clearly wasn’t hurt on that infamous Backes “penalty”) and hunched over, but continued to play in pain during the remainder of the contest. Krug has stepped up in a big way during the second half of the season, and has become a leader both with the defense and on the entire team. He has proven night in and night out that he is more than just an offensive threat, and Cassidy clearly has the confidence and belief in him to toss him out on the ice on nearly every other shift, especially when the B’s need a boost.
- Marchand line MIA in Florida.
The first line of Brad Marchand, Riley Nash, and David Pastrnak combined for seven shots on net and a -4 rating, which won’t get it done, especially short-handed and against a hot Panthers squad. The majority of those shots came in the third period, and with Backes out with that match penalty, the lines were jumbled for the final 40 minutes. Marchand specifically was off on Thursday and had one of his poorest showings in recent memory, as his passing and shots just were not as crisp and precise as we are accustomed to seeing from one of the most dangerous scorers in the league.
- Officiating continues to baffle.
I know that I’ve already brought it up, but someone needs to explain to me how that is a match penalty (and possibly something that warrants another suspension) to David Backes. Especially when the officials were clearly letting the two teams play early in the game, as they kept their whistles in their pockets until that controversial call. Backes stated after the game that if this is the new standard in the NHL then he wants his old league back. There have been so much questionable calls this season throughout the league, especially on goalie interference, and those calls have taken the focus away from what has been a tremendous season so far. The best officiating is the officiating that we don’t talk about, so let’s all hope we never discuss calls during the postseason.