The Boston Bruins will face their biggest test of the young season on Monday night as a fellow 2-0-0 team comes to town in the Florida Panthers, the reigning Presidents’ Trophy winners.
Both teams are led by first-year coaches and last played Saturday. Boston used a three-goal third period to down Arizona 6-3 in its home opener while Florida was a 4-3 victor at Buffalo.
The Bruins have put together an early recipe for success as 10 players scored the team’s 11 goals through two games.
“It tells us how deep we are,” new Boston coach Jim Montgomery said. “I said we have really good depth and we’re still missing three really good hockey players. It’s nice when the third and fourth lines can control play like they did (on Saturday).”
A newcomer who played collegiately at Boston University, A.J. Greer has led the bottom-six breakout with two goals and an assist. He is plus-4 while skating alongside Trent Frederic (subbing for the injured Jake DeBrusk) and Charlie Coyle.
Saturday marked Greer’s first NHL multi-point effort as he had only two goals and eight points over his 47 career games with Colorado and New Jersey prior to this season. He also had a two-goal game in the preseason.
“I thought everyone focused up and our lines did the task at hand,” Greer said. “I don’t call it the third and fourth line because I think anyone can play anywhere. … I thought (our line) had really good chemistry and had some nice down-low plays but also off the rush.”
Against the Coyotes, Nick Foligno, Pavel Zacha and Coyle all contributed a goal and an assist. Derek Forbort netted the game-winner.
The Bruins lost defenseman Brandon Carlo (upper body) in the first period. With injuries mounting before starting a stretch of three games in four nights, Dan Renouf was recalled from AHL Providence.
“We felt in camp he was the one who was the most like a steady, stay-at-home defenseman who can bring pucks out, very similar to (Carlo),” Montgomery said.
The Panthers conclude their opening three-game road trip in Boston, having now won at least two games to begin three straight seasons. However, they have started with two road wins for just the third time ever.
Coach Paul Maurice was happy with his team’s most recent effort against Buffalo, punctuated by strong special teams.
“Everybody had a little piece, but I think the penalty kill (4-for-4) and power play (2-for-6) were the defining pieces of our game,” Maurice said.
Matthew Tkachuk and Massachusetts native Colin White have been instant-impact contributors, both logging points in each of their first two games with Florida. Tkachuk is just the sixth player in Panthers history to score in each of his first two games with the team.
“(Tkachuk is) around everything, that man,” Maurice said. “That’s his game. … He’s involved in every scrum, most of the hits, and a goal a game so far.”
White’s goal marked his 100th NHL point. Aaron Ekblad and Brandon Montour each scored their first of the season in the second period, while Spencer Knight totaled 24 saves.
“We’re really buying into the system that we created here,” Ekblad said. “We want to be hard on pucks consistently and not give much space. We look fast out there. … That’s kind of the mindset we want to have (all game long).”
–Field Level Media