Friday, December 23, 2011
Marchand And Bruins Ensure It Won't Be A Merry Christmas For The Florida Panthers
There is a reason that Las Vegas made the Bruins (-200) heavy favorites tonight against the Panthers, the last team that had beaten them (2-0 back on Dec. 8).
Florida (18-11-7) limped (three injured forwards) into TD Garden for their third game in four nights while Boston (23-9-1) had taken it easy since beating Montreal 3-2 on Monday. The final result tonight was 8-0 as the B's gave their fans an early Christmas present (their sixth consecutive win) while simultaneously ruining the holiday for the Panthers.
Brad Marchand picked up his first career hat trick (with two assists) while Tuukka Rask (30 saves; 7-4-1) picked up his 10th career shutout and second in as many starts.
In total, 14 of the 18 skaters (not including Rask) that suited up this evening had points. The other players with multiple points included Patrice Bergeron (1 goal, 2 assists), Zdeno Chara (2 assists), Tyler Seguin (2 assists) and Dennis Seidenberg (1 goal, 1 assist).
It didn't take long to see that neither Florida's heart nor its legs were into this one as Boston pumped in four first-period goals. Marchand scored a short-handed goal at 5:56 thanks to some loose defensive coverage. Milan Lucic (12th of the season) made it 2-0 at 13:40 thanks to a fortuitous bounce off the back boards that went right to him in front.
Shawn Thornton and Krys Barch had a wrestling match which only led to further Bruins highlights. At 18:31, Benoit Pouliot (7th goal of the season, 3rd straight game with a goal) scored the best goal of the season thus far by using speed then an unbelievable through the legs of a defenseman move capped off by a diving backhander to increase the lead to 3-0.
Seidenberg (1st of the season) got in on the action 31 seconds later as Boston was up 4-0 in the first period.
Panthers goaltender Jose Theodore (10 saves) didn't bother coming out for the second period and who could blame him? Former BC goaltender Scott Clemmensen (17 saves) didn't fare much better as he also gave up four goals over the final two periods.
Boston added two tallies in the second period. Against his former team, Gregory Campbell (3rd of the season) got a nice wrist shot past Clemmensen at 3:50. Bergeron (7th of the season) added another power-play goal at 15:50. By then, Florida basically didn't want to be there.
Marchand capped off this memorable beating with a deflected shot that went in at 1:53 and a pretty feed from Seguin led to the hat trick at 10:53. Marchand's 15th of the season led to numerous hats being thrown onto the ice and a lengthy delay.
There isn't any debate at the moment that the B's are the top team in the Eastern Conference and most likely the NHL as well. It is only December so it doesn't really matter so much now but damn, they really have no flaws.
After a break the next few days-the NHL gives everyone Christmas Eve and Christmas off)-the Bruins return for a three-game road trip (Phoenix, Dallas, New Jersey) that extends into 2012.
It sounds cheesy but this Christmas, more than anything currently in the Boston sports landscape, I am most thankful for getting to watch this superb team every night. It really is a joy to behold.