Despite the Philadelphia Flyers being six points out of the final Eastern Conference wild card, the Boston Bruins knew they were going to be in for a battle. John Tortorella’s team entered the game winners of seven of their last eight games and looking to continue their climb toward a playoff berth with a win over the NHL’s best team. It didn’t go exactly the way it has been for the Flyers the last couple of weeks.
The Bruins erupted for six goals and aside from the first couple of minutes, they played a solid all-around game on their way to a 6-0 dominating win over Philadelphia on Jan. 16. Here are three takeaways from the Bruins’ 34th win of the season and their 21st on home ice.
Czechia Line Provides Offense
When the puck dropped to begin the game, it was the 1,000th career game for David Krejci. First-year coach Jim Montgomery started him with linemates David Pastrnak and Pavel Zacha and little did anyone know the afternoon the trio was in store for.
They combined for four goals and five assists and got things rolling in the first period. Pastrnak opened the scoring by deflecting a pass from Zacha inside the far post, then Zacha celebrated signing his four-year contract extension on Jan. 14 when he one-timed a pass from Krejci off the post and over the shoulder of Flyers’ goalie Carter Hart. In the second period, Zacha got credit for his second goal of the game when his pass in front of the net hit a Philadelphia defenseman and went into the net. Pastrnak closed out the lines scoring in the third period on the power play for his 35th goal of the season.
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When they are together, the line never stops moving and creates so many scoring chances for each other and the defensemen. The trio combined for 10 of the Black and Gold’s 29 shots and drove Hart from the game early in the second period. Jake DeBrusk is still some time away from returning from his fractured fibula, but Montgomery needs to keep the line intact. Too many good things happen when they’re together.
Swayman Records Sixth Career Shutout
The last time Jeremy Swayman started a game was on Jan. 8 in the Bruins’ 7-1 rout of the Anaheim Ducks to close out their road trip through California. Linus Ullmark got the last two starts and there were questions if Swayman had been battling an injury. He put all questions to rest with a 29-save performance and like in Anaheim, he benefitted from his teammate’s offensive explosion.
You might say in a 6-0 win, why spend some time talking about the goalie? He made 13 of his 29 saves in the third period when the Bruins spent the majority of the period killing penalties, but it was a couple of saves early in the game that proved to be big. After Pastrnak gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead, Philadelphia’s Wade Allison was alone in front and his one-timer was stopped at the top of the crease by Swayman. After Zacha made it 2-0, the Bruins netminder came up with another huge save when he denied Scott Laughton’s shot through a screen. A goal in either situation very well could have changed the outcome of the game. The former University of Maine standout tracked the puck well all afternoon.
Bruins Avoid a Let Down Following Emotional Win Over Toronto
Boston had their most emotional win of the season on Jan. 14 with their 4-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Their Original Six rival entered the game looking to gain ground in the Atlantic Division race, but the Bruins were able to get a Matt Grzelcyk goal with 1:16 remaining to claim a huge win after trailing by one goal twice in the game. A quick turnaround, less than 48 hours, all eyes were glued to see how Montgomery’s team would respond after not practicing the day before.
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It took them a while to get their feet under them against a hot team, but once they did, they took control of the game and were dominant in all areas of the game. Their penalty kill successfully killed all six chances for the Flyers, they got a power play goal from Pastrnak and they controlled the pace of the game and limited high-danger chances on Swayman. It would have been very easy for Boston to have a letdown following their win over the Maple Leafs, but with a locker room full of veterans, it was not in the cards against Philadelphia.
After playing a home-dominate schedule in the first half of the season, the Bruins will play seven of their final eight games before the All-Star break on the first weekend in February on the road. It’s going to be a tough schedule against some Eastern Conference playoff-bound teams, but a 13-point lead over Toronto will make the trip easier to head out on beginning Jan. 18 against the New York Islanders.