Bruins

P.K. Subban pays Zdeno Chara massive compliment on Bruins star's Instagram post

P.K. Subban pays Zdeno Chara massive compliment on Bruins star's Instagram post

Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara and Nashville Predators star P.K. Subban have had plenty of battles from the latter's days with the Montreal Canadiens, but there's still an enormous amount of respect between the two defensemen.

Chara posted a heartfelt Instagram on Sunday to thank Bruins fans for their support, and he received many comments from people in the hockey world, including one from Subban that paid Boston's captain a tremendous compliment. Check out the exchange between the two in the tweet below:

This response from Subban is just one example of how much respect NHL players have for Chara. He's a great player, an awesome teammate and respects his opponents -- very much like longtime Detroit Red Wings captain and defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom.

Chara is signed through next season, and vowed in his Instagram post the Bruins "will be back." You can bet the heartbreak of the Bruins' Stanley Cup Final loss to the St. Louis Blues will serve as a huge source of motivation for Chara as he prepares for the 2019-20 campaign.

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David Pastrnak should be a lock in Bruins' shootout lineup going forward

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USA TODAY Sports

David Pastrnak should be a lock in Bruins' shootout lineup going forward

The shootout is a problem for the Boston Bruins, and already this season it has cost them three points. Now, that might not sound like a lot, but in a very competitive Atlantic Division that's shaping up to include five playoff-caliber teams, those points are quite valuable.

The Bruins blew a four-goal third-period lead Tuesday night and ultimately lost 5-4 in a shootout to the Florida Panthers at TD Garden. Charlie Coyle extended the shootout with a third-round goal, but it's Boston's only tally in 11 shootout attempts this season. Only three of the 26 teams that have taken part in at least one shootout have a worst shooting percentage than Boston. 

Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy's shootout lineup was a real head-scratcher. Here's a look at the skaters chosen:

Chris Wagner: No goal
Brad Marchand: No goal
Charlie Coyle: Goal
Charlie McAvoy: No goal

The lack of speed and creativity with the puck made Panthers goalie Sam Montembeault's job too easy. Take a look for yourself in the highlights below:

The most curious absence from the above list is David Pastrnak, who leads the league with 16 goals and is tied for second place in scoring with 31 points. Pastrnak is just 3-for-19 in shootouts for his career, but despite this lack of success, he absolutely should be one of the first two shooters in this format, especially when the opposing team has its backup goalie in net, as was the case Wednesday night. The most talented players should be on the ice with the game on the line, and Pastrnak is without question the B's most skilled offensive player. 

Cassidy explained after why Pastrnak wasn't involved in his team's latest shootout loss.

"(Bruins goalie coach) Bob (Essensa) has information on that," Cassidy told reporters. "One thing Bob suggested -- we were going to use Wagner. There was maybe more shooters than dekers against this goalie coming in, but Charlie (Coyle) scored in the shootout shooting. You know, we put Coyle in and recommended shooting. Pasta tends to like to deke, so that’s why we went away from him. He’s been a little bit cold lately in the shootout, so give some other guys an opportunity that we feel can finish. Charlie McAvoy definitely has but didn’t happen."

Pastrnak has shot in two of the three shootouts this season. Jake DeBrusk has taken part in only one. David Krejci didn't shoot in the one game he's played in that ended with a shootout. Patrice Bergeron has zero shootout attempts despite scoring 70 goals over his last 147 games. Bergeron's nine shootout goals are tied for the team lead with Marchand since the beginning of 2012-13. Even defenseman Zdeno Chara deserves a look in the shootout with his powerful slap shot.

Let's be clear: shootouts aren't a new problem for the Bruins.

They actually ranked as the third-best shootout team during the 2011-12 season with 19 goals on 38 attempts, but it's been all downhill since then. The Bruins are dead last in the league with a 20.7 shooting percentage (49-for-237) in shootouts over the last eight seasons, including the current campaign.

We can complain all day about the shootout and say it's a gimmick, and that might be true, but the fact remains it's a very important part of today's NHL. The Bruins' lack of success in the shootout won't hurt them in the Stanley Cup playoffs, but it could end up costing them the most desirable seed if the current trend isn't reversed soon. Consistently putting the most skilled offensive players on the ice would be a good way to remedy the situation.

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Why it's time to start worrying about the Bruins after epic third-period collapse

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AP Photo

Why it's time to start worrying about the Bruins after epic third-period collapse

BOSTON — It’s officially time to start getting worried about the Boston Bruins.

The Bruins extended their losing streak to four games with a historically bad loss to the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night where they blew a four-goal lead in the third period and lost a home game for the first time in the history of the Original Six organization.

It all led to a 5-4 shootout loss to a Panthers team that’s chasing them in the standings and a longer losing streak than the Black and Gold endured all of last season. The Bruins were loath to talk about the “Stanley Cup Final hangover” in training camp or at the beginning of the year when things were going so well, but it sure looks like they are going through one of those kinds of bumps in the road here at the start of November.

It was even more stunning because the B’s had looked like they had turned it around in the first 40 minutes of the game while building a 4-0 lead and limiting the Panthers to just 12 shots on net. But it all fell apart in the third period on the back of goaltending gaffes, penalties taken when the Bruins were in the driver’s seat, and an inability to finish off scoring plays around the net after Florida pulled Sergei Bobrovsky from the game.

Those separate things had plagued the B’s at different times in the first three losses of the streak, but all of them conspired to sink this year’s edition of the Bruins to a new low in a season that had been all highs until very, very recently.

The Bruins were an amazing 194-1-4 since 2010 in games where they held a three-goal lead through the first 40 minutes of the game, a stat that underscores just horrendous and uncharacteristic the third period choke was against the Panthers.

“This is a team that’s closed out games for years, and the last goal to me — put everything else aside — is disappointing. We get beat one-on-one off the rush, winger circling out of the scoring area knowing the game is on the line. You could sit here and argue that the guy’s holding Bergy’s [Patrice Bergeron] stick and can’t clear the puck at the end, but structurally we were bad on that last goal,” said Bruce Cassidy. “That’s the disappointing part to me. That’s when we’re usually rock solid.

"It’s a strength of our team to close out games. I think we had a perfect record of, you know, we had a lead going into the third period. It’s a trademark of this team. Yeah, it is a concern. Part of it is goaltending, part of it is staying out of the [penalty box]. You mismanage pucks by giving them odd-man rushes, you take penalties by putting them on the power play — we did a little bit of both. You don’t tighten up and protect the slot because typically D are activating, so if you take care of that, you’re going back the other way and you have a chance to sort of finish the job. We didn’t do any of those things very well.”

It was easier to discount losses to Detroit and Philadelphia as instances where the Bruins were disengaged against teams they aren’t really competing head-to-head with for playoff spots, but that is not the case with a Panthers club just three points behind Boston in the Atlantic Division standings.

Certainly, the Bruins at this point seem to understand that there is a problem and that it needs to be straightened out.  

“We all realize that was not our 60-minute game. We lost a point and it’s on us,” said Chara. “At this point we have to be able to defend [a lead] and play strong to the end. We’ve got to realize that teams are ready to play and we’ve got to elevate our game. A few games before, we were a little bit late to the start of our game and I thought we were good with our start tonight. But our finish was not there. We’re looking to complete three strong periods of hockey and play strong for the full time of the game.”

The leaky goaltending, the lack of discipline when it comes to penalties and the inconsistent period-to-period play all point toward a hockey team that’s experiencing difficulty maintaining focus, and doesn’t have the same sharpness in execution as they did in the first month of the season. Some of that is about injuries subtracting players like Jake DeBrusk, Torey Krug and David Backes from the lineup, but some of it feels like it’s the first wall that the Bruins have run headlong into this season after playing 106 hockey games last season into mid-June.

The concern now is how long this funk is going to last. This Friday night's showdown against the Maple Leafs will be a good barometer as to which direction the Bruins are headed after Tuesday night’s slap to the face.

The good news is that the Bruins built up quite a cushion with their 11-1-2 start to the season, but everybody can see that they are going to need it in a season that isn’t going to be anywhere near as easy as it seemed in the first month.

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