The Boston Bruins (6-1-2, 14 pts), fresh off taking three of four points against the Washington Capitals and handing the Caps their first regulation loss of the season, get ready for another big two-game series against the Philadelphia Flyers (7-2-1, 15 pts) at Wells Fargo Center at 8 PM ET (NBCSN, 98.5 the Sports Hub).
The Bruins will look to keep their perfect run going against the Flyers after sweeping the Philadelphia Flyers in their home-opening series at TD Garden last month, and currently looking up at them in the East Division standings. The Bruins executed a pair of heart-stopping comebacks against the Capitals over the last couple of games while twice coming back from three-goal deficits to take points from the Broad Street Bullies.
Tuukka Rask will get the start against the Flyers on Wednesday night with Jaroslav Halak expected to get the starting nod on Friday before the Bruins take a bit of a break with their following two games against the Buffalo Sabres (Feb. 6 and Feb. 8) postponed due to COVID-19 protocols.
Pastrnak busting out
Part of the dynamic for the Boston Bruins never being out of a hockey game is David Pastrnak back in the lineup and heating up for the Black and Gold. The 24-year-old right winger keyed Monday night’s comeback win by scoring each of the first two goals for the Bruins, including a slick goal where he left John Carlson in the dust behind the Washington net before snapping one past Vitek Vanacek in the third period.
After Pastrnak was a bit off target with his shooting in his first game back after missing the first two weeks of the season, the NHL’s lead goal-scorer found the range in his second game back.
“Scoring obviously felt great,” Pastrnak said following the statement win by him and his teammates. “Had a little trouble, I was missing the net a lot, so obviously it was a good one to finally hit the net, definitely good to get the first one up.
“I felt like I got hit by a train [the next morning after his first game back], so that was pretty much how I felt after first game. I felt great during the first game, but obviously the next morning was a little tough.”
Pastrnak finished with two goals in the game, led the Bruins with seven shots on net and had 12 overall shot attempts while really coming alive in the final 40 minutes of the game.
All hands on deck for Bruins amidst injuries
With Jake DeBrusk (lower body), Ondrej Kase (upper body) and Jack Studnicka (upper body) all recovering from injuries back in Boston, the Boston Bruins are being heavily tested with their right wing depth right now. That caused the Bruins to push Craig Smith up with David Krejci and Nick Ritchie on the second line in order to gin up their even-strength attack, and had the Bruins move normal fourth liner Chris Wagner up to the third line with Trent Frederic and Charlie Coyle.
Karson Kuhlman has made his 2021 season debut in the last couple of games while the Boston Bruins are missing a slew of their top-6 wingers, and the Bruins have had to rely heavily on their top guys and their defensemen providing offense. It was Jakub Zboril and Jeremy Lauzon that set up goals in the third period comeback on Monday night, and Brandon Carlo that scored the game-winner for the Bruins against the Capitals.
“I thought keeping pucks alive by our ‘D’ had a lot to do with it,” said Bruce Cassidy, of the five unanswered goals that the Bruins scored on Washington to end the game. “Sure enough, Charlie getting up the ice, Lauzon making a play and Carlo [scoring the goal]. We just got a little more involved and hopefully we can feed off that moving forward. It was good risk/reward situations.
“Good for them making the adjustment. They got a couple goals from their ‘D’: Zdeno Chara got a goal and John Carlson had one. So, you need that in today’s NHL. If you’re in a game where you need three or four to win, they’re going to need to be a part of it. So that was very encouraging.”
It will be a similar “all hands on deck” philosophy for the Bruins offense right now while they are missing so many of their top wingers due to injuries. The silver lining to the postponed games this weekend for the Bruins is that it’s going to give them ample time to heal up with so many banged up players just a few weeks into the season.
Anton Blidh was a new face at Bruins practice on Wednesday morning and was skating as left wing on the fourth line with Karson Kuhlman presumably back on the Boston Bruins taxi squad after playing a couple games.
The red-hot Philadelphia Flyers have won four games in a row and have responded well to being challenged by Alain Vigneault after a couple of tough losses to the Bruins, and to a healthy scratch for Travis Konecny as well.
The Flyers have clearly tightened up the defense after allowing 11 goals in two games to the Bruins just a couple weeks ago and have also posted 15 goals in their last four games while winning all of them against the Devils and Islanders. The bulk of the damage has been done by big forward James van Riemsdyk, who has five goals and 13 points in 10 games thus far this season for the Flyers while Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and Kevan Hayes are all in double-digit totals for points this season for the Flyers as well.
One eye-opening area of struggle for the Flyers has been the play of youngster Carter Hart, who has a 3.61 goals against average and an .896 save percentage for the Flyers. One thing that stands out in recent memory was Hart destroying his stick over the crossbar at TD Garden after the Flyers had dropped both ends of the two-game series just a couple of weeks ago.
Carter Hart shows his frustration after Flyers fall 6-1 to the Bruins pic.twitter.com/Qex6dmtJTu
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) January 24, 2021
Conversely, Brian Elliott has been great to start the season with a 3-0-0 record along with a 2.22 goals against average and .932 save percentage for the Flyers. The Flyers now this is a big two-game series against the Bruins this week, so the expectation is that they are going to be much better than the first meeting between these two teams.
“They are right with us in the standings,” said van Riemsdyk, who leads the Flyers with 13 points. “As we know, this year with every game being within the division, there’s different swings that can happen. It makes the games that much more important when you are jockeying for position.”
Boston Bruins Lines
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Nick Ritchie – David Krejci – Craig Smith
Trent Frederic – Charlie Coyle – Chris Wagner
Anton Blidh – Sean Kuraly – Anders Bjork
Extras: Par Lindholm
Jeremy Lauzon – Charlie McAvoy
Connor Clifton – Brandon Carlo
Jakub Zboril – Kevan Miller
Extras: John Moore
Philadelphia Flyers Lines