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On the Road: Bruins @ Panthers

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
John Bishop is the beat writer for He covers the Black & Gold hoping to offer a positive look at the team, not only from the stands and the press box, but also from inside the locker room.
AP Summary

Boston 1 1 2-4
Florida 0 0 0-0

First Period-1, Boston, Ryder 6 (Krejci, Chara), 9:02.

Second Period-2, Boston, Kessel 16 (Wideman, Krejci), 2:44 (pp).

Third Period-3, Boston, Hnidy 1 (Wheeler, Krejci), 2:21. 4, Boston, Wheeler 9 (Kobasew), 13:36.

Shots on Goal-Boston 9-13-10-32. Florida 9-11-7-27.

Goalies-Boston, Fernandez. Florida, Anderson, Vokoun. A-16,213 (19,250). T-2:20.

0:00 - It was not quite a 60-minute effort, but it was certainly enough to get Manny a shutout and the sweep of NHL's Florida franchises. Boston wins 4-0.

More from the room later tonight and tomorrow. JB

15.3 - Vokoun with two more saves.

31.2 - Fernandez lays down across the goal line to make his latest stop.

1:50 - Ryder just missed on his bid for a second goal...

2:35 - Fernandez covers for a faceoff. This one is winding down, folks.

6:24 - Blake Wheeler just buried the puck (and the Panthers) off a nifty pass from Kobasew, who found Wheels right between the circles. 4-0, Boston. This one is just about over.

6:50 - Two broken sticks on one power play, Bergeron and Chara both needed new twigs within seconds of each other.

8:44 - Panthers penalty -- that's more like it. McArdle is in the box.

9:03 - The Panthers have really taken the momentum in this game. Boston better grab it back, soon.

10:32 - Tarnasky hits the post. Phew...

10:40 - Tarnasky, on the doorstop, Save Fernandez.

11:13 - Save by Manny, who is starting to benefit from shots from the outside.

12:11 - Fernandez at the top of his crease, makes another stop.

12:47 - Bergeron runs into Anderson, helmet-to-helmet. Anderson is very slow to get up. Vokoun is stretching out.

Bergy looks fine...but Anderson is out. Vokoun is in.

13:01 - Let's get caught up. Shane Hnidy scored at 17:39 and the Bruins lead 3-0.

Internet purgatory...

20:00 - Start of the Third.
0:00 - A good period for Boston. They lead in shots, 22-20.

7.9 - McLean with a late shot on Manny who holds on for the draw.

1:58 - Nice kill.

4:23 - Hnidy in the box. Holding.

7:31 - Lashoff comes off the point, and like Phil Kessel, skates right to the middle and forced Anderson to make a tough save.

9:22 - Point blank save by Fernandez made better by his defense who cleared the puck. Shots are 18-17, Boston.

11:59 - Thornton hits the side of the net on a breakaway after a nice move...and his stick broke.

Bring back the wood sticks PLEASE!

15:38 - Manny maintains his cool as McArdle skates down the right side and hits him in the stomach with a shot. No bobble as Fernandez cupped the puck to his chest.

17:16 - Kessel came off the side boards and skated to the middle of the ice, shot between two defenders and beat Anderson. 2-0, Boston. WOW.

18:20 - Chuck Kobasew avoids a hit and draws a penalty on Ballard for tripping.

19:04 - Florida tests Manny early. Three tough saves as Boston is on the PK.

20:00 - Start of the Second. Stephane Yelle is on the ice.
0:00 - End of the first. Wheeler made a nice stop in the neutral zone and skated over the Florida blueline and shot just as the horn blew. It looked like he missed, but it was a nice play to end the period.

That was a much better effort than the first period in Tampa.

37.5 - I am not sure I agree. But Patrice is in the box for interference.

54.7 - Icing Florida.

2:00 - Man is there a temptation to write and write about David Krejci. He is just so great on both sides of the puck.. And he just gets better and better.

3:05 - Icing Boston. Shots are 10-9, Bruins. 9-9.

4:55 - I wonder if they actually thought about playing a song by Boston on the PA.

"It's been such a long tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime..."

5:48 - Another good save by Fernandez, who directed the puck to his right and allowed the Bruins to clear the zone.

6:49 - Anderson stops Wideman.

8:41 - Bouwmeester is in the box for Florida (holding). Boston's second PP. They are 0/1 on the night.

9:25 - Manny, who looks very strong, blockers away the fourth Florida bid. Earlier, Fernandez played the puck in the face of a defender and cleared it away from him easily and calmly. Very nice.

10:58 - Ryder beats Anderson cleanly, pushing off a defender, he shot the puck on the move -- I think through the Panthers legs -- and the Florida goalie did not see it. Gorgeous goal which makes the score 1-0. Shots are 8-3, Boston.

11:32 - It looks like Stephane Yelle took a puck to the face. He skated off on his own and walked down the runway...

12:31 - Krejci hit the post. Some excellent movement by the Boston power play.

14:15 - Florida bench minor. Too many men. Stewart serves it.

14:42 - That's better, Wheeler has a strong chance right in front of the Florida goal. Anderson stopped it, but it certainly was not an easy save...

15:11 - There is no flow for either team right now. Yuck.

16:07 - Another shot from the point, this time from Wideman, who is stopped by Anderson. It hit the goalie square in the chest.

16:38 - It is so quiet in here...

18:16 - Chara has the first Bruins shot, blockered away by Anderson.

18:44 - Another save by Manny.

19:42 - Fernandez had to be strong very early and made a stop on a shot from the slot.

19:54 - Panthers control the draw...

20:00 - Start of the Third Period. Everyone is preaching, "Strong Start." Let's see one!

Boston Starters:
Axelsson, Bergeron, Kobasew, Chara, Hnidy, Fernandez
Florida Starters: Campbell, Dvorak, Peltonen, Cullimore, McCabe, Anderson

Pretty neat to see Gary Hall, Jr. -- Olympic swimming legend -- drop the first puck.

Switching to time on the clock...

6:38 p.m.
The lines...
Lucic - Savard - Kessel
Axelsson - Bergeron - Kobasew
Wheeler - Krejci - Ryder
Thornton - Yelle - Nokelainen
Chara - Lashoff
Hunwick - Wideman
Stuart - Hnidy

Sturm, Boychuk

6:29 p.m.
It's Manny Fernandez for Boston and Craig Anderson for Florida.

Everyone except for Sturm is on the ice...

6:27 p.m.
Everyone is wondering who will be in...Wideman, Boychuk, Lashoff (or both). The questions are kind of fun, considering the Bruins have been playing well with each and everyone in the lineup.

Thomas or Kessel is on eveyone's mind, too.

4:58 p.m.
Kess was almost a mess

Phil Kessel and David Krejci
A lot of pundits are focusing on Phil Kessel as one of the bigger reasons for the uptick in Bruins offense -- and hey, his 15 goals make that pretty apparent.

"He's definitely matured into a better pro," said Claude Julien earlier this afternoon."But that's just a natural thing for a young guy.

"Every year he gets better."

But beyond natural progression, the Bruins forward has added facets to his skill set, as well.

"We've worked hard in helping him improve his game in all areas," continued Julien. "But he's done a good job of buying into it and really making those efforts.

"All of that stuff is paying off for him right now, and he's being rewarded with some goals this year and...more ice time," he said.

Perhaps the most obvious change in Kessel has been his dedication in his own end -- as evidenced by Phil's attempt at a shot block which nearly had him stop the vulcanized rubber with his noggin.

"I tried to dive," said Kessel with a big smile. "I don't know what happened there.

"I came out of my element."

"That's all a part of maturing into a good pro," he said.

4:32 p.m.
We're back at the arena. Look for steady reports from here on out...

2:25 p.m.
More on slow starts…
Claude Julien
It has been noted in this space that the Bruins have had some issues coming out of their locker room with their legs under them solidly -- and their lack of shots in the first half of the first period in recent starts bears that phenomenon out statistically.

“The bottom line is what happens (to be on the scoreboard) at the end,” said Bruins head coach Claude Julien to another round of questions about his clubs recent slow starts. “For me, it’s been more about the way we started our games, rather than falling behind 1-0.

“Part of it is creating some momentum and some shots on net – that’s been a bit of a concern in the first half of the first period.

“We just need to rectify that, I think, and the rest will fall into place,” he said.

Florida finding production
Coach Julien was asked about the ability of Florida to keep their heads above water – offensively – despite the losses of so many key players to injury.

“They’ve had a new coach come in and he’s put his system in place,” said Julien. “It doesn’t get done overnight, but I think they are starting to reap the benefits of that now. And they are feeling more comfortable with what he’s asking of them.

“They’re getting good goaltending and the rest is falling into place.”

Moreover, Julien admires the Panther’s ability to keep the shots on their goalie to the outside.

“In our last game (with them), we had 45-shots against them, but there wasn’t a ton of them that were threatening and that’s a sign of a team…doing a good job…in front of their goaltender,” said Julien.

A terrific tandem
Manny & Tim
WBZ’s Dave Gaucher asked Coach Julien if it were nice to be able to count on either man to be able to fill the nets and win a game.

“Yah, it is,” answered Julien. “We’ve had that luxury.

“I’ve always called it a luxury because not every team has that. We are fortunate to have those two guys…and have both guys playing well.

“It’s allowed the other guy to get his rest so on those tough nights those guys are fresh and able to compete,” he said.

12:33 p.m.
Dennis Wideman is feeling better, but according to Claude Julien it will be a gametime decision as  to which blueliners take the ice tonight.

There was no definitive word on the goalie, but Manny Fernandez remains the best bet.

More in a bit...

11:55 a.m.
This means less than it has in the past, but Manny Fernandez seems to be the guy winding his workout down first. Tim Thomas is still in goal and working on some things with Coach Essensa.

Eventually, Fernandez was the first goalie off, as well.

If I learn more, I will pass it on...

11:41 a.m.
Bruins defenseman Dennis Wideman is on the ice this morning. So, that's pretty good news. But as far as lineups go, there's not much else to say -- yet.

That's because it's an optional skate...

Patrice Bergeron, Johnny Boychuk, Matt Hunwick, Phil Kessel, Chuck Kobasew, David Krejci, Matt Lashoff, Milan Lucic, Shawn Thornton, Mark Stuart, Blake Wheeler, Wideman and Stephane Yelle joined Manny Fernandez and Tim Thomas for the session.

Coaches Essensa, Houda, Ramsay and Ward presided. Meanwhile, Claude Julien, Peter Chiarelli and Cam Neely watched intently from the stands.

10:52 a.m.
Anderson was the first off for Florida, and that should indicate that he will, indeed, be tonight's starter in goal for the Panthers.

Florida is slowly finishing up their practice and Boston will be on the ice at 11:30 a.m.

9:55 a.m.

Lucic vs. Boynton

The Eastern Conference leading Boston Bruins will face the Florida Panthers tonight in what will be their second of six games in 10-days. It is also the second of four games against the Panthers – the B’s took the first game, 4-2 back on November 21st.

You remember that game as the contest where Milan Lucic went toe-to-toe with Nick Boynton and left the former Bruin bloodied and concussed.

According to the local newspapers Craig Anderson will be in goal for the Panthers (who are 5-3-2 in their last 10, 9th in the East). At 6-1-3 with a 1.89 goals against average he is probably the most significant factor between the B’s (8-1-1 in their last 10) and another win as the Panthers are hurt and will be missing David Booth, Nathan Horton, Cory Stillman and Richard Zednik.

As far as the Bruins health goes, I am not expecting a return to action by Marco Sturm. However, it would not surprise anyone if Dennis Wideman was back on the blueline for Boston tonight in the BankAtlantic Center. Which again begs the question of who will play – Boychuk or Lashoff?

By all accounts, both men brought exactly what the team needed from them on Thursday, so if Wideman is healthy it will be a pretty tough decision for Bruins head coach Claude Julien.

But no matter who is on the ice, look for everyone on the Boston club to come out of the room at 7:00 p.m. with their hair on fire.

“Just because we are on a pretty good streak doesn’t mean we don’t have flaws,” said Julien of the B’s tendency toward soft first periods. “We have things that we need to improve on.

“Winning is great and it gives you a lot of confidence, but (sometimes) it gives you too much confidence and you have a tendency to over-pass and trying to make cute plays.

“You forget that getting your nose dirty and keeping things simple also got you to where you are,” he said.

Julien says that it’s his job to make sure those things are first and foremost in his players’ minds.

“It’s just reinforcing that part of it,” he said. “If we can get some shots early and start going to the net, earlier, at the start of the game, it will create that momentum for us.”

Friday, December 5th
8:55 p.m.
A quick hockey update -- nothing earth shattering.

Coach Julien reports:
  • Defenseman Dennis Wideman is expecting to skate tomorrow. Coach Julien said that Wideman will either represent one of six or seven defensemen ready to play on Saturday. As of Friday, there were no plans for a call up. "We're still hoping that everything goes as planned. So far so good. But we'll know more tomorrow morning."
  • Forward Marco Sturm was not on the ice. "Sturmie did not skate today. Put him (down) as very doubtful for tomorrow.
  • Both goalies are healthy and fully able to play. Tim Thomas is clearly over the bug he had last week.

Reggie Lemelin

11:36 a.m.

Shades of Lemelin and Moog?
I'm sitting down by the glass today and I can't begin to describe how much fun it must be to be Manny Fernandez right now.

The man just looks and acts happy in his own skin. All of his movements in goal are crisp and right -- even his passes are on the tape.

As I've written before, considering all the effort he put in to get back here, it's gratifying to see him succeed.

Fernandez, however, intimated that it has been gratifying for him to see Tim Thomas continue to succeed and play well.

"I'm getting the little details figured out -- just getting my game back," said Fernandez after practice on Thursday morning. "It's been an ongoing process.

"But Timmy's been really strong, somebody you can rely on, and it's much easier (to work toward 100%) when the other guy is playing so well. You get more time to get everything in order.

"And he's been a great guy to watch, so it's definately helped my game," he said.

At 7-1-1 Manny's been pretty good to watch, too.

11:26 a.m.
The Bruins just came onto the ice for practice.

With Bruins legend and on-the-road guru Johnny Bucyk sitting on the bench as the B's hit the ice, Shawn Thornton yelled out, "Hey Hoffer..."

I was a little confused for a bit, but then I thought - OHHHHHHHHHHHH.

Hoffer = HHOF = Hockey Hall of Famer.


No Sturm. No Wideman as of yet.

9:32 a.m.

Welcome to Sunrise, Florida.

The Bruins are eating breakfast before a 10:15 a.m. bus to practice, an 11:30 on-ice session and an entire afternoon off. They earned that time to themselves by playing like a team in Tampa on Thursday.

When Dennis Wideman went down with a “middle body” injury, the question of who would play – Johnny Boychuk or Matt Lashoff – became moot. They were both "in" on the Bruins blueline and they both had an important role to play.

Veteran defenseman Shane Hnidy, who, like Zdeno Chara, Mark Stuart and Matt Hunwick all saw added responsibility during the game, praised his newest teammates.

“I think we’ve all been in that situation,” said Hnidy of Lashoff and Boychuk being thrown into the fire. “But maybe sometimes it’s easier to get thrown right in because you don’t have to think about it…just let natural instincts take over.

“Everybody just stepped up tonight – especially the young guys on the back end.”

Hnidy was not surprised, however.

“Like we’ve said before, that’s kind of the model of this team,” he said. “We are a team.

"That’s the great part of being part of a team different guys step up at different times and that’s what you need to be successful.”

“Games like these are even more special when you have guys doing that.”

Defenseman Matt Hunwick, called up earlier this season from Providence, has been one of those guys “doing that” for much of the season.

“We’ve talked all year about our depth,” said Hunwick. “Tonight was one of those games where we had to show it…and put it into action.

“Obviously, Lash and Johnny played great tonight. They made a lot of good plays coming out (of our zone), were real physical and did a lot of good things.

"So, I don’t think it was one of those game where we thought we were really a man down,” he said.

Bruins head coach Claude Julien emphasized that the Bruins were never a man down. He relied on his young players to do exactly what they were trained to do and from defensemen Boychuk and Lashoff to forwards David Krejci and Phil Kessel, Boston’s youth was king.

“Some of our young players continue to evolve and grow into great players,” said the Bruins head coach. “That was an unbelievable goal by Krejci showing patience and (using that) move. Phil – it was the same thing.”

For their part, none of Boston’s youngest athletes thought they did anything that special. They credited their teammates and said they just did their jobs.

Kessel credited Marc Savard for outstanding passing on the tying and insurance goals. Krejci pointed across the room to rookie Blake Wheeler -- another youngster contributing regularly to Boston's winning ways. And like the rest of his teammates, Boychuk just looked at the whole night a-matter-of-factly.

“(Coach) really didn’t say if we were going to play or not, so we both came ready to play,” said the defenseman. “Then he came in (to the locker room) and said we were going to see what’s going to happen here with Dennis. Then he was like, 'Okay, you’re in.

"I said, 'Okay.'

“You just have to go out there and do your thing,” he said.

And how!
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