GOLD STAR: It’s got to be James Reimer and his 46 saves as he kept everything out of his net even as pucks were bouncing and hopping all around him. Give Reimer credit for making the saves when he had to as the Bruins got some pretty good scoring chances that they couldn’t finish off, and didn’t just sit back and give up with a clearly red-hot Florida goaltender. The Bruins bucked up for 20 shots on net in the final period and played a dominant brand of hockey as they always do in the final 20 minutes, but Reimer didn’t buckle while the Panthers played a pretty textbook defensive game in front of him. It might just be that Reimer had the best game of his entire season against the Bruins on Thursday night, and he certainly deserves some credit for that.
BLACK EYE: A tough night for Nick Holden, who was on the ice for each of the two early goals against the Bruins that really put them in a hole they couldn’t climb out of. Holden was in front of the net trying to hold things down when Kevan Miller lost his stick on the first Florida goal, and then he was beaten to the net by a backdoor-cutting Nick Bjugstad on Florida’s second goal on a quick transition play where nobody slowed down the Panthers. It was better after that, obviously, for Holden as the Panthers only scored one more goal for the rest of the game, and that one came on the power play thanks to a Vincent Trocheck sniper shot. But Holden and the rest of the Bruins ‘D’ will need to tighten things up and get better as they continue to go along without fellow defensemen Charlie McAvoy and Zdeno Chara for at least the short term.
TURNING POINT: For the Bruins it was outshooting the Panthers by a 14-10 margin after the opening 20 minutes of play, and then still finding themselves trailing by a pair of goals. All it took was a couple of defensive breakdowns, a hot Florida goaltender in James Reimer and that was it for a Bruins team that didn’t have another magical comeback in them this time around. There’s only so long the Bruins can withstand both the grueling schedule and the injuries that are again hitting their top line players, and Thursday night’s shutout loss was one of the nights when it caught up to them a little bit. It would help the shorthanded Bruins if they could start playing a little better out of the starting gate in some of these games.
HONORABLE MENTION: Torey Krug didn’t end up on the score sheet and he didn’t help the Bruins to a win, but give the dude credit for playing very well while playing hurt. Krug led all Bruins with 26:35 of ice time, led all players with eight shots on net, had 14 shot attempts and was all over things in the offensive zone while trying to do whatever he could to get a puck past James Reimer. Krug even took a really big hit in the third period and kept on playing because he knew that the team needed him without Zdeno Chara and without Charlie McAvoy. Krug has always proven to be a very tough competitor both mentally and physically, and Thursday night was another example of that even if it didn’t work out in a win for Boston.
BY THE NUMBERS: 2 – It’s only the second time all season that the Bruins have been shut out with the first one happening all the way back in October during the second game of the season in a 4-0 loss to the Colorado Avalanche.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “It’s the kind of hit I’ve been doing for years. So if this is the new NHL, the new standard, then I hope I can have my old league back.” –David Backes on a match penalty called on him for checking from behind after a hit on Vincent Trocheck in the first period that earned him an ejection from the game.