Talking Points from the Bruins' 7-3 win over the Panthers

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Talking Points from the Bruins' 7-3 win over the Panthers

GOLD STAR: What a night for Zdeno Chara. He collected the 200th goal of his NHL career when he was able to step into a Danton Heinen drop-back pass in the second period, had a couple of points to go along with a plus-4 rating and had seven shot attempts while being really active in the offensive zone during his 25 plus minutes of ice time. He is one of only 22 defensemen in the history of the NHL to score 200 goals in their career and that is absolutely rarified air among NHL career leaders. All of this comes for a 42-year-old Bruins captain that also signed a one-year, $2 million contract extension with the Bruins today that could also have another $1.75 million in incentives when everything is said and done as well.  

BLACK EYE: Henrik Borgstrom certainly didn’t have a very good night for the Panthers as he finished a minus-3 in just 9:32 of ice time. He also went 1-for-6 in the face-off circle. He also didn’t land a single shot on net or really do anything at all that landed any kind of positive impact on the game for Florida. Borgstrom certainly wasn’t alone among players on the Panthers on this night as they allowed seven goals and had things really fall apart after the first period, but he was among the most ineffectual for a Panthers team just playing out the string at this point.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins only held a modest 1-0 lead after the first period even if they’d played pretty well, but that all changed in the second period. The B’s exploded for five goals while outshooting the Panthers by a 13-11 margin and poked holes all over the Florida coverage in the defensive zone. Once the dust had settled in the middle 20 minutes the Bruins were up on the scoreboard 6-2 with the game well in hand, and it just came down to garbage time in the third period where the B’s clinched their playoff spot. It was impressive to see the B’s truly spin things in their direction, but it was also indicative of a Panthers team that’s not going to fight very hard at this point in the season before breaking down.

HONORABLE MENTION: Noel Acciari scored his second goal of the road trip for the Bruins as he continues to look like a decent fit as the center for the third line, particularly if it’s in a pinch for the Boston Bruins as it is right now. Perhaps it’s benefiting the straight-ahead Acciari to be playing on a line with David Backes, who helped feed him for the goal scored in the first period that got things rolling for the Black and Gold. Then in the second period Acciari dropped the gloves with Florida Panthers forward McKenzie Weeger for an energetic bout that ended with Acciari surprising Weeger with a flurry of left-handed punches that eventually knocked the Panthers skater to the ground. Acciari finished with four shot attempts and a hit in 12:15 of ice time, but unfortunately finished the game without the assist for the Gordie Howe hat trick.

BY THE NUMBERS: 10 – the number of times over the last 12 seasons that the Bruins have made the Stanley Cup playoffs, and the third straight season that Bruce Cassidy has led Boston to the postseason since taking over behind the bench.  

QUOTE TO NOTE: “He’s our backbone. He’s such an incredible leader on and off the ice, and he’s a guy that brings it every day. We’re fortunate to have him next year and it couldn’t be more fitting for him to get that 200th [goal].” –Brad Marchand, on Bruins captain Zdeno Chara signing an extension for next season and scoring his career 200th NHL goal during the win.

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Chara puts up vintage performance in Bruins' Game 4 win over Maple Leafs

Chara puts up vintage performance in Bruins' Game 4 win over Maple Leafs

TORONTO – There are going to be times in these playoffs when 42-year-old Zdeno Chara is going to look every bit of his age out on the ice.

Game 1 might have been one of those times as Chara appeared to be having some real difficulty keeping up with the fast, skilled Maple Leafs as they poured on their attack. Still, it was a different story in Game 4 Wednesday night with the B’s claiming a 6-4 victory to even the series at 2, and with Chara enjoying a vintage performance at both ends of the ice.

Chara ended up scoring the game-winning goal in the third period on a long point shot that whistled past Freddie Andersen. That proved to be the difference after Toronto staged a near comeback during a furious third-period rally.

“We had the lead and we played well, but obviously they played more aggressively and started fore-checking harder and more aggressively,” said Chara. “We’ll go back and look at some things and see what we could have done better.”

With our without the third-period rally, it was all part of a tremendous performance for Chara, who put up the goal and a plus-3 rating in 24:12 of ice time, threw five hits and blocked four shots in a game where his true defensive warrior tendencies came through.

“He’s a true professional and a great leader, and at this stage of his career just a really, really solid hockey player,” said B's coach Bruce Cassidy. “They’re trying to find ways to expose him and he’s trying to find ways to adapt to the new NHL, and he has. There’s a reason why he’s still playing and effective. Not only is he hard [on opponents], but he’s smart. He’s very intelligent and he’s been able to figure out ways to be effective.”

It was the best performance and most ice time that Chara has had in any of the four playoff games this spring, and he was joined by defensive partner Charlie McAvoy enjoying his best game of the series, too. Now comes the tough part in maintaining that performance through the rest of the series where the B’s will clearly need Chara at his best as they look to slow down the Leafs any way that they can.  

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Talking Points from the Bruins' 6-4 Game 4 win over the Maple Leafs

Talking Points from the Bruins' 6-4 Game 4 win over the Maple Leafs

GOLD STAR: It took Bruce Cassidy shaking things up a little bit while dropping David Pastrnak down with David Krejci, but it got Pastrnak back playing his game and he scored his first two goals of the postseason. Pastrnak finished with the two second-period goals that gave the Bruins a lead they wouldn’t give up. He also led the B’s with six shots on net in his 16:33 of ice time. 

Pastrnak finished with eight shot attempts, three hits and played a little faster and stronger on the puck while finishing off the chances he got in the middle of the game. The backhanded saucer pass from Brad Marchand to Pastrnak for a power-play one-timer was exactly the kind of slick, productive playmaking the two are capable of at any moment.

BLACK EYE: The Bruins finally stung the defensive stoppers that had been so good in this series for the Maple Leafs. John Tavares and Jake Muzzin each finished minus-3 and weren’t able to hold back Patrice Bergeron and Marchand as effectively when they were paired with Danton Heinen instead of Pastrnak. 

It extended to the face-off circle as well as Tavares was just 6-for-18 on the draw and didn’t seem to get the drop on Bergeron as he has in certain moments earlier in this series. Some of it might have been about the line shakeup that Cassidy introduced at the start of the game and some of it was about Boston’s best players finally outplaying the guys trying to stop them.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins twice had moments when they could have buckled if the Leafs could have taken advantage of them, but the B’s held strong in those moments and controlled play. In the second period, Tuukka Rask allowed a soft goal to Auston Matthews that clanged in off his glove hand and tied it at 2, but right at that moment, the Bruins surged forward and got a pair of goals from Pastrnak. Then in the third period, Toronto had them on the ropes again after scoring a couple of goals and closing to within one score, but the B’s defense and Rask hunkered down and didn’t allow another goal despite being outshot 16-9 in the final period.

HONORABLE MENTION: Zdeno Chara was strong, solid and even got rewarded for his efforts with a goal in the third period that ended up being the game-winner. Chara finished with a goal and a plus-3 rating in 24:12 of ice time while putting yeoman’s work in the defensive zone with five hits and four blocked shots for a B’s group that blocked a whopping 25 shots. Chara isn’t always going to play these kinds of big-minute performances in the playoffs anymore at 42 years old, but he found a way to be very close to his best when the B’s needed him to be a stalwart shutdown guy. The goal in the third period that whistled past Freddie Andersen was just icing on the cake.

BY THE NUMBERS: 25 – The number of blocked shots for the Bruins, who doubled Toronto 25-12 in this category while really paying the physical price for the gritty, high-scoring victory.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “I was putting pressure on myself to help the team this way, so it was big for me. I feel relieved...and awake.” – David Pastrnak, on scoring his first two goals of this postseason. 

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