Here are some hits and misses from the Bruins 5-2 victory over the Florida Panthers at the BB&T Center on Sunday afternoon:
*Andrej Meszaros certainly looked like he’ll be able to help the Bruins in his Boston debut. He played 20 plus minutes as Zdeno Chara’s defensive partner on the right side, became the first B’s defenseman to score in his Boston debut since Sergei Gonchar and fired six shots on net in playing to his strengths. He looked like a viable option at the point on the power play, and experienced little difficulty adapting his game to Boston’s system. Clearly, he’ll face much bigger tests than the Florida Panthers and won’t always play as well as he did on Sunday afternoon, but he passed the first test with flying colors. Maybe that trade deadline wasn’t such a bust for the Bruins after all?
*Carl Soderberg continued his rampage through opposing defenses as the Big Swede with another standout game. He knocked over both Erik Gudbranson and Patrice Bergeron before screening Roberto Luongo on the Meszaros goal. He also repeatedly beat Ed Jovanovski in one-on-one battles to sustain possession before setting up Patrice Bergeron’s game-winning, power-play score in the third period. He only finished with one assist and three shots on net for his efforts, but he’s been a game-changing force at the third-line center spot since moving there prior to the Olympic break.
*Jarome Iginla iced the game with an insurance goal immediately after a Florida score made it a 3-2 in the third period. the strike from the slot was the right winger’s 550th career NHL goal. Johnny Bucyk is next up on the career list at 25th all-time with 556 goals, a number that Iggy should pass before this season is over.
*Patrice Bergeron finished with a game-high three points (1 goal, 2 assists) to go along with four shots, two hits and 14-of-28 face-offs in 18:51 of ice time in an active game. He had a great weekend in Florida against the Lightning and Panthers and played with an impressive level of energy considering the Bruins played two games within 22 hours of each other. Still, that isn’t all that surprising given the consistent effort Bergeron puts into everything he does.
*By virtue of their two victories, the Bruins have taken over first place in the Eastern Conference with 89 points and have a season-high five game winning streak.
*Kevan Miller continued to add to his legend by absolutely smoking Brandon Pirri on a hit into the side boards that knocked the stick out of his hands. The Bruins rookie defenseman is one tough hombre.
*Daniel Paille left the ice one shift into the game after absorbing an Ed Jovanovski hit to the head in the corner, and never returned for precautionary reasons. Claude Julien indicated that he didn’t feel things were serious with the fourth-line winger despite his brushes with concussions earlier this season.
*Chad Johnson wasn’t great for the Bruins for the second time since the Olympic break while allowing two goals to the Panthers on 22 shots in a one-sided game that was dominated by the Black and Gold. Johnson kicked a rebound to Jimmy Hayes on Florida’s first goal and allowing Florida’s second goal 29 seconds after the Bruins took a 3-1 lead in the third period was no bueno. He needs to get back into the groove quickly given the kind of playing time he’ll continue to get the next month.
*Dougie Hamilton has made big strides in his second season with the Bruins, but it was pretty telling that the Bruins coaching staff plugged Meszaros into his spot in the lineup after he struggled at times against the Lightning. Both Matt Bartkowski and Hamilton will be getting pushed by Meszaros for a spot among the six defensemen as they form a unit for the playoffs, and they need to be their best.
*Deciding to go through with a Tim Thomas Bobblehead Night after trading him away in a Roberto Luongo upgrade four days prior might be the tackiest thing I’ve ever heard of, so take a bow Florida Panthers.