Bob the Builder: Panthers’ coach putting his stamp on things

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SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Bob Boughner’s favorite dinner spot used to be a sports pub in the minor-league hockey hotbed of Glens Falls, New York called Dango’s, a place where the chicken wings were huge and most of the televisions were usually tuned to hockey.

These days, it’s an upscale steakhouse called Mastro’s.

If there’s one constant of Boughner’s life in hockey, it’s that just about everything – from refining a palate, to reaching the NHL, to transforming a hockey team – takes time. And Boughner got a very tough reminder of that last season when the Florida Panthers missed the postseason by a single point in his inaugural year as their coach.

So here the Panthers go again, trying to become a playoff club. But with Boughner leading the charge, there’s real belief that good things are coming.

”He’s even more than advertised,” Panthers president Matthew Caldwell said. ”His diligence, he’s a player’s coach but also very, very technical. He gets into the weeds and I think the players trust him, but he’ll hold them accountable too. His ability to be there for the players but also correct them, not be too friendly with them, have strong standards, that’s been excellent.”

Boughner won the job in Florida by selling Caldwell and the rest of the Panthers’ leadership on a vision.

His message: Be patient.

Boughner played 297 games in three different minor leagues, needing seven years to make the jump from NHL draftee to NHL player. Once he got to the top level, he never left, spending parts of 10 seasons with six franchises and being part of five deep runs in the Stanley Cup playoffs. He was a hard-nosed defenseman, someone whose pro-career-best of eight goals came during those Dango’s-fueled days with the AHL’s Adirondack Red Wings in 1993-94.

His coaching climb took time as well, going from an owner-coach-president of OHL team in his hometown of Windsor, Ontario to some NHL assistant stints and finally getting the head job in Florida in 2017.

”It wasn’t an easy road. It was a hard road,” Boughner said. ”I earned it as a player and I had to work every day to stay there. And it was not like I had a secure spot every year, too. But I always worked hard to be a team guy and that’s what has sort of turned into some of my coaching philosophy. I had to build it from the ground up. I miss playing every day, but coaching, there’s something gratifying when it all comes together.”

He feels that gratification coming in Florida.

The Panthers, who open their home schedule on Thursday against Columbus, won three playoff series in their third season of existence – 1995-96. They’ve won zero series since, missing the playoffs entirely in 17 of the 21 seasons that followed their lone run to the Stanley Cup final. Boughner spent two seasons as part of the Panthers organization as a player, though he never made the NHL club.

Panthers general manager Dale Tallon knew it would take time for Boughner’s system to take root. Florida was 25-8-2 in its last 35 games last season, going from near the bottom of the Eastern Conference to just missing the postseason.

”I just like his whole attitude about everything,” Tallon said. ”He’s a straightforward, no-nonsense guy. His technical aspect is terrific. And he gets the player. He has good relationships with all the players.”

Boughner looks back at last season with the obvious tinge of disappointment.

But he also knows the growing pains were vital.

Much of the core from last season remains the core now, and those players know what makes Boughner tick – and what makes his system work. There’s a culture in place now, a level of expectation, a level of accountability.

It’s what Boughner demanded from himself as a player, and it’s his blueprint for what he wants as a coach.

”There’s no more excuses,” Boughner said. ”There’s a point last year, maybe 10 or 15 games in, when we were on a trip and I couldn’t wait to get off our plane and get to the hotel and tell the guys get into the meeting room. I sort of blew up, got a lot of things off my chest, and the guys sort started taking inventory of themselves. I think we’ve turned a corner now. I think we’re ready now.”

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Chara’s month-long absence adds to Bruins’ blue line woes

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In a week where NHL injury news was seemingly non-stop, the Boston Bruins suffered another blow with the news that Zdeno Chara would be out indefinitely following a leg injury suffered Wednesday against the Colorado Avalanche. According to The Athletic’s Fluto Shinzawa, the captain is expected to miss the next 4-6 weeks.

The continued hits to the Bruins’ blue line saw them dress two players, Connor Clifton and Jakub Zboril, making their NHL debuts Friday during a 1-0 overtime loss to the Dallas Stars. Add in rookie Jeremy Lauzon and you had three defenseman on the ice with not even a combined 10 games of NHL experience. Along with Chara, Charlie McAvoy, Urho Vaakanainen, Brandon Carlo, Kevan Miller and John Moore were also absent.

This is something that head coach Bruce Cassidy has never experienced.

“No. Not this many at the same time,” Cassidy on Friday. “Clearly when you lose guys through the course of the year, five or six, but not at the same time. It will be a challenge, no doubt.”

Lauzon (24:52 TOI) and Matt Grzelcyk (25:27) made up the top pairing with Chara and McAvoy sidelined.

(Let’s also not gloss over that while Patrice Bergeron got banged up against the Stars and returned, there’s still plenty of concern about his status.)

The good news is that the blue line injury list could see fewer faces on it real soon. Cassidy said that Miller could be back Wednesday against the Detroit Red Wings. Any of Carlo, McAvoy or Vaakanainen may also be able to return to the lineup that night. The Bruins have three full days off after Saturday’s meeting with the Arizona Coyotes; plenty of time to recoup and possibly piece back together their defense corps.

In the meantime, the Bruins will rely on some of their kids to help them get through this stretch. It’ll be quite a period of evaluation.

“It’s the National Hockey League, you can either play in it or you can’t. We’ll find out with some of these guys,” said Cassidy. “Sometimes this is the best way to find out, that’s the positive in it. The negative is we’ve got a lot of good players out of the lineup back there. “If they want to play here it’s a great opportunity to show what they can do right now. That’s the way I look at it. This is kind of their dream to get here. Well, here you are, have at it.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

The Buzzer: Petersen gets first win for Kings; Skinner scores again for Sabres

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Three Stars

1. Cal Petersen, Los Angeles Kings. With injuries to Jonathan Quick and Jack Campbell, the Kings have had to resort to their third-and fourth-string goalies Cal Petersen and Peter Budaj. On Friday night in Chicago it was Petersen getting the start and he was absolutely fantastic in a 2-1 shootout win over the Blackhawks stopping 34 shots through regulation and overtime to pick up his first NHL win. This is only the sixth win of the season for a Kings team that has struggled from the start. It also snapped what had been a three-game losing streak. The Blackhawks, meanwhile, have now lost nine of their past 10 and have managed just four goals in their past four games.

2. Jeff Skinner, Buffalo Sabres. Things are starting to look good for the Buffalo Sabres who have now won four in a row and five of their past six thanks to a 2-1 shootout win over the Winnipeg Jets on Friday night. At the center of this recent surge has been Jeff Skinner, their biggest offseason acquisition. His goal early in the third period on Friday was the game-tying goal and his 14th of the season, which keeps him in second place in the league’s goal-scoring race. He has been especially hot lately with five goals in his past four games and 13 goals in his past 12 games. He has been everything the team hoped he would be when they acquired him from the Carolina Hurricanes over the summer.

3. Ryan O'Reilly, St. Louis Blues. After his 10-game point streak came to an end on Wednesday night against the Chicago Blackhawks, Ryan O’Reilly was able to get back on the scoresheet with a pair of goals on Friday in a 4-1 win over the Vegas Golden Knights. O’Reilly has been the Blues’ best player by a substantial margin this season and is already up to 10 goals and 23 total points this season in only 17 games.

Highlights of the Night

The Washington Capitals were 3-2 overtime winners in Colorado on Friday night and it was Devante Smith-Pelly getting them on the board by finishing this beautiful tic-tac-toe passing play.

Morgan Rielly continued his incredible season on Friday night with the game-winning overtime goal for the Toronto Maple Leafs. With the win Toronto takes over the top spot in the NHL standings while Rielly continues to pace all defenders with 25 points in 20 games. Ottawa Senators rookie Thomas Chabot and San Jose Sharks defender Brent Burns are the only other players at the position with more than 20 points so far this season.

Factoids

This is a tremendous stat from the Washington Capitals-Colorado Avalanche game, where both Avalanche goalies are former long-time Capitals netminders, and the Capitals two goalies on Friday have barely played for the team.

The Dallas Stars win over the Boston Bruins did not have a lot of offense, but it certainly had a lot of excitement thanks in large part to Brad Marchand. Still, it was the Stars getting the 1-0 overtime win. That is something that had never happened in Stars franchise history.

 

Scores

Dallas Stars 1, Boston Bruins 0 (OT)

Buffalo Sabres 2, Winnipeg Jets 1 (SO)

Los Angeles Kings 2, Chicago Blackhawks 1 (SO)

Washington Capitals 3, Colorado Avalanche 2 (OT)

St. Louis Blues 4, Vegas Golden Knights 1

Toronto Maple Leafs 2, Anaheim Ducks 1 (OT)

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Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Brad Marchand pulls a Roger Neilson, waves ‘white flag’

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It was another eventful for night for Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand.

After a series of penalties in the second period of his team’s 1-0 overtime loss in Dallas, he decided to pull a Roger Neilson and wave the white flag by sticking a towel on the blade of his hockey stick and … well … waving it from the penalty box. This was presumably a form of surrendering to the referees.

Or simply Brad Marchand doing Brad Marchand things.

His adventure started in the second period when he was given a double-minor for roughing Radek Faksa after Marchand came to the defense of his linemate, Patrice Bergeron, who was sent flying into the boards at the hands of Faksa. Bergeron briefly exited the game before returning.

Here is the entire sequence.

After serving his four minutes for that altercation, Marchand returned to the ice and was almost immediately sent back to the box for slashing stars goalie Ben Bishop.

Nobody from Boston liked the call at all, with Marchand at being at the top of the list.

That was when he waved the white flag and was sent off for 10 additional minutes.

That might look familiar to you because you might recall former long-time NHL coach Roger Neilson doing something similar during the 1982 playoffs when he was coach of the Vancouver Canucks.

Marchand has been in rare form this season, even for him. Earlier this month he was given a 10-minute misconduct for mocking Nashville Predators forward Colton Sissons for embellishing a high-sticking call, which came after he bloodied Washington Capitals forward Lars Eller in the season-opener after Eller taunted the Bruins’ bench.

In the playoffs the NHL had to instruct Marchand to stop licking opposing players.

No matter what you think of Marchand as a player you at least have to admit this: It is never boring with him around.

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Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Josh Archibald suspended two games for hit on Ryan Hartman

via NHL DoPS
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After holding a hearing with Josh Archibald earlier on Friday, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety suspended the Arizona Coyotes forward two games for his “high, hard hit” on Ryan Hartman of the Nashville Predators.

The league’s explanation video explains that Hartman’s head was “the main point of contact” and that contact with the head was avoidable.

During the game itself (a 2-1 win for the Coyotes on Thursday), Archibald received a minor penalty. He doesn’t have a history of supplemental discipline at the NHL level, which may have prompted a lighter punishment. Hartman eventually returned to that loss for Nashville.

Here’s the explanation video via the NHL’s DPoS:

Archibald will be eligible to play for the Coyotes again on Nov. 23.

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James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.