December 23, 2011

Post-Game Breakdown: Panthers, like rest of universe, no match for Bruins

By Jesse Connolly

Due to the obnoxious, 20-2-1 run the Boston Bruins are currently on, breaking down yet another victory by such an absurd score seriously seems like a chore. Expect tongue-in-cheek sarcasm/faux-analysis below.

Final: Boston 8, Florida 0

Recap: After not allowing the Bruins to beat him for what felt like an entire decade, Jose Theodore decided — with Christmas just around the corner — to be generous to the Black and Gold. Brad Marchand, Milan Lucic, Benoit Pouliot and even the once-snake-bitten Dennis Seidenberg tallied in the opening 20 minutes, staking Boston to an already-insurmountable 4-0 lead over Florida.

With former Boston College netminder Scott Clemmensen replacing Theodore to start the second, little changed for the suddenly-sliding Panthers. Greg Campbell ripped one top shelf and Patrice Bergeron deflected a shot off a defender’s stick to make it 6-0.

In the third, it officially became the Brad Marchand show. The undersized winger struck twice to pick up his first career hat trick. The Panthers actually fired 30 shots on Tuukka Rask, but you’d never have known it as he and the B’s cruised to an 8-0 win.

Records: Boston 23-9-1, 47 points; Florida 18-11-7, 43 points

Key Play of the Game: When the Panthers forgot to show up? The first period was an absolute abomination. Florida made zero effort to play any defense (or, hell, any offense) while Theodore let in a supremely shaky first goal with his team on the power play to absolutely suck the life out of his club.

Connolly’s Commendations: Usually we offer the ho-hum golf clap, but tonight we’re giving Brad Marchand a standing ovation. No. 63 had a hat trick and two assist for a career-high five points, absolutely tormenting the Panthers from the opening faceoff until the final horn.

Lost in the shuffle was the fact that Rask has now picked up back-to-back shutouts. He hasn’t allowed a goal in a whopping 155 minutes of hockey, including a blanking of the Kings and a perfect relief appearance against the Blue Jackets.

Bergeron, Marchand’s linemate, also had a whale of a game with a goal and two helpers. Furthermore, the center crushed it at the dot, winning 10-of-12 faceoffs.

Connolly’s Critiques: Paging David Krejci! Quiet night for the Czech pivot. Ditto for linemate Nathan Horton.

Chris Kelly also had himself a fairly uneventful showing (no shots). Ditto for Joe Corvo (no shots in 17-plus minutes of ice time).

Notes: In their last two meetings with division leaders, the Bruins have beaten the Flyers and Panthers by a combined score of 14-0. Marchand’s previous career-high was four points, set last season in Colorado.

Final Thoughts: Is there anything left to say, any compliment that hasn’t been used to describe how just freakin’ dominant the Bruins have been for the last six-or-so weeks? It’s getting crazy, maybe even unfathomable, just how easily they win on a nightly basis. Tonight, perhaps more than any other night, was an absolute cinch.

Next: The Bruins won’t be back in action until Dec. 28 when they visit the Coyotes in Phoenix.