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2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Bruins Not Losing to the Florida Panthers Because of Sam Bennett

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Sam Bennett and Brad Marchand collide during the first period of Game 3 on Friday night in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Ever since Sam Bennett returned to the lineup, he has had an effect on the Boston Bruins.

Is he a distraction to the Bruins?

You bet he has.

It has thrown them completely off their game: Missed assignments, undisciplined penalties, and a lack of sustained offense have hurt them.

The Panthers, however, were prepared for anything the Bruins brought to the table.

Florida was not fazed by the rhetoric or the challenges to throw the gloves either by Brad Marchand in Game 3, and Pat Maroon in Game 4.

The pregame threats of retribution Sunday did not upset them, nor did Charlie McAvoy’s early thundering hit on Sam Reinhart.

The only thing that hurt Reinhart was the errant puck he took to the face early in the third period. He left the ice for repairs, leaving a trail of blood, and didn’t return.

Coach Paul Maurice said Reinhart had a nasty cut but was otherwise fine.

Bennett brings back memories of a piece of sandpaper from a previous generation.

For those who might remember, Claude Lemieux was everybody’s public enemy due to his chippy, on-the-edge style.

He was a well-traveled hired gun, but his teammates always loved him because he became a distraction to the opposition.

Like Bennett, he did his best agitation in the playoffs. He also won four Stanley Cups with three different teams.

Boston did not lose the last three games because of Sam Bennett.

Yes, he did hit Marchand hard in Game 3 in more of a defensive move, at least according to Bennett. Yes, he did push Charlie Coyle into goalie Jeremy Swayman on Sunday.

In neither case was the offense serious enough to generate a penalty. Had he been penalized for the hit on Coyle, the controversial goal would have been disallowed.

Bennett explained that the hit on Marchand was defensive, saying, “There was no way I would have had time to think about punching him in the face, emphatically adding that it was “definitely not intentional.”

The reverse angle replays might challenge that position.

Regardless, the Bruins lost because they managed only 15, 17, and 18 shots in the last three games.

In total, they were outshot 107-50.

Boston lost because, in the past three games, its power play was 1-for-7; Florida’s was 6-for-18.

The imbalance in power play opportunities is an indicator of undisciplined hockey.

Boston lost because their distracted defense allowed Sasha Barkov to weave through three players to score the game-winning goal — then got just one shot off against Sergei Bobrovsky down one.

They lost because they took undisciplined penalties in their enthusiasm for retribution: David Pastrnak for roughing Anton Lindell, Pat Maroon for high-sticking Matthew Tkachuk, and Morgan Geekie for goaltender interference against Sergei Bobrovsky.

The Panthers didn’t score on these particular penalties, but it amounted to six minutes that Boston couldn’t mount an attack.

Bennett’s power-play goal came after a Hampus Lindholm penalty for interference against Oliver Ekman-Larson.

An unsuccessful goalie interference challenge resulted in a delay of game penalty against Boston, adding insult to injury to Boston coach Jim Montgomery.

Montgomery was clearly upset.

“Toronto ruled that it was a good goal,” Montgomery said. “That the play didn’t interfere with the goaltender. That’s the only explanation I got.”

Coyle was a bit more descriptive of what happened.

“The puck is in the crease. I’m trying to make a play. It goes through me,” Coyle said. “I figure I can make a play on it. I feel a push from behind. I go down on Sway, the puck trickles by and right to their guy. Empty net. I figured I could probably turn around and make a play on it

“Yeah, that’s what happened. It’s a tough call. Sometimes you’ve got to play through things. You can’t make excuses.”

In Game 5, which could be Boston’s last this season, the Bruins must remain focused on the mission at hand.

The Panthers, as usual, are ready for anything.

Boston is 0-25 when down 3-1 In a series.

It will be a tough job coming back in this one.

For the most in-depth coverage of the Florida Panthers:

STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS
EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS
FLORIDA PANTHERS (ATL1) V. BOSTON BRUINS (ATL2)
FLORIDA LEADS BEST-OF-7 SERIES 3-1
GAME 5

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Armando Perez

Sam Bennett is a blessing to the Panthers! He is for the Cats what Claude Lemieux was for the 1996 Stanley Cup Champion Colorado Avalanche, the 1995 New Jersey Devils, and the 1986 and 1993 Montreal Canadiens. It doesn’t hurt Lemieux that he had Patrick Roy as the Goaltender with the Avalanche and Canadiens, and Martin Brodeur as goaltender with New Jersey.

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