The Bruins played their first meaningful game since mid-March against the Flyers. While the round-robin isn’t quite the same as the play-in series these are still big games. After a disappointing effort in their exhibition game against Columbus, the Bruins were looking to bounce back. Before the game even started the Bruins suffered a big blow losing starting goalie Tuukka Rask. Rask was deemed unfit to play giving Halak the start in net. Now let’s look at how things went once the puck was dropped.
The game got off to a sloppy start with both teams unable to gain much momentum as they continued to shake off some rust. It wasn’t until about four minutes into the game the Bruins got some decent offensive zone time. The play started with Coyle using his speed and strength to drive the net creating a great scoring opportunity. The third line continued their impressive play generating another great opportunity as Bjork weaved through the Flyer’s defense. A slashing call on the play gave the Bruins their first power play of the game with eleven minutes to go in the first. The Bruins power play looked like they forgot you need to shoot to score. Often opting for the extra pass instead of getting pucks toward the net. The Flyer’s first quality chance would come off a Halak mishandle behind the net resulting in a net-front scrum.
The depth continued to shine as the Bruins fourth line used some great cycling below the goal line to generate a quality chance. The Flyer’s next quality chance would come with about five minutes left in the period. The defense for the Bruins dropped too low in coverage forcing Krejci to take a penalty on the play and Halak to make a big save. Early in the power play, a Giroux shot would ring off the post echoing through the empty arena. With the period winding down Carlo would be called for a phantom trip. The Flyers would go on the power play once again with just under a minute to go. The Bruins would kill off the first half of the power play as the first period came to an end. The score remained tied at 0-0 with the Bruins outshooting the Flyers 12-6 in the period.
The second period would start with the Bruins still on the penalty kill. After killing off the rest of Carlo’s tripling penalty it seemed like the Bruins were a man down the rest of the period. The Bruins would struggle with their defensive structure and if not for a fantastic play by Lauzon on a 3 on 1 would have been down 1-0. However, the Bruins’ defensive struggles wouldn’t wait long to bite them. Just over five minutes into the period a failed clearing attempt would catch the Bruins out of position. Travis Sanheim finds Michael Raffl alone in front. After a move across the crease, Raffle buried the first goal of the game 1-0 Flyers. The Bruins answered with their third line and it almost paid off immediately but Carol was denied by the post.
The Bruins appeared to wake up and started throwing the body more. Unfortunately, just four minutes after the first goal the Flyers would strike again. Nate Thompson would take a feed from Raffl at the top of the dot and Halak never saw the shot as it picked the blocker side corner. Now Lauzon was in a position to block the shot but he ducked away from the shot. If he’s going to screen his own goalie he needs to make that block and it’s 2-0 Flyers. The Bruins once again answer with the third line and again they draw a penalty. The power play would create some good chances this time around but Hart would turn them all away. With just under four minutes in the period, the third line is at it again and a huge save from Hart denies Kuhlman.
Finally with just over a minute left the Bruins catch a break. From below the goal line, Wagner looked to pass to Kuraly across the crease. Luckily the puck deflects off a Flyers’ skate and into the net cutting the lead to 1. Unluckily Chara falls down after the next faceoff turning the puck over and just right seconds after the Bruins goal Myers picks the blocker corner again making it 3-1 to end the period.
The third period starts with more of the same. The Bruins would spend most of the first three minutes trapped in their own end. After finally getting to the offensive zone a poorly timed pinch by Carlo leads to a 2 on 1 for the Flyers. Krug takes away the pass but Halak is way out of position overplaying the shot and Laughton easily beats him glove side 4-1. It would take the Bruins till the halfway point in the period to get any significant offensive zone time. The Bruins would go on the power play for the third time but sloppy play and overpassing kills it once again. A scary moment for the Flyers would follow as Raffl would be checked into the boards by Lauzon. It wasn’t a dirty hit but his foot does get stuck under him as he hits the boards.
Laughton and Lauzon would exchange slashes and both received misconduct as the refs tried to keep control. Down three Cassidy added Coyle to the top line skating four forwards and one defenseman. With just under four minutes left Halak is pulled in favor of the extra skater. Finally, the Bruins looked like they did back in the first period. All it took was skating 6 on 5 and being down three goals with about three minutes to play. The Bruins got shots on goal Heart gave up some rebounds but nothing could find the back of the net. Time expires and the final score is 4-1 in favor of the Flyers.
The first star of the game goes to Carter Hart. In his first-ever playoff start, Hart turned away 34 of 35 shots. In fact, the only shot to get by him was a pass that deflected off his teammate. Some big saves in the first clearly frustrated the Bruins and that was evident through the game.
The second star of the game goes to Michael Raffl. Not only did he score the first goal but he assisted on the game-winner from Thompson. He wasn’t able to put much if any weight on his leg when he left the game. Hopefully, he can make a speedy recovery being a key member of the Flyers depth scoring.
The third and final star of the game goes to Charlie Coyle. Coyle actually led all Bruins skaters in ice time and for good reason. The third line was far and away the Bruins best line generating multiple grade-A scoring chances. Much of that was because of Coyle using his size and speed to dominate the pace of play while on the ice.
While this there might be cause for concern I am not too worried yet. This team has had a very long history of not showing up when it’s not a big game. Just look at this year’s season series with Detroit for example. This is still the team that won the President’s Trophy this year so we know how good they can be. Cassidy is a Jack Adams finalist and he’s going to earn that nomination by turning this team around. With two more games to fix these issues before it really counts time is still on their side and I think we will see a hungry team next game. The first period and final five minutes today we’re great and hopefully, they turn that into a full sixty going forward. As always keep checking back for all your Boston sports updates stay safe out there and LET’S GO BRUINS!!!
Featured image courtesy of Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP.