In this week’s edition of Bruins Weekly, Boston gets a key split of a two-game series with the Philadelphia Flyers, the trade deadline is five days away, Brandon Carlo’s return from a concussion lasted just four periods, and more.
Bruins Get Key Split With Flyers
When the Bruins began their two-game, home-and-home series with the Flyers Monday at the TD Garden, they were four points up in the standings for the final playoff spot in the MassMutual East Division. When the dust settled Tuesday night in Philadelphia, the Bruins expanded their lead to five points following an overtime loss and a regulation win.
Expanding the lead in the division was not easy for Boston as they had to clear two major hurdles. First, goaltender Jaroslav Halak was placed on the league’s COVID-19 protocols list, which forced Dan Vladar to make his fourth start of the season Monday night. The rookie made 29 saves to allow the Bruins to pick up a point in a, 3-2, overtime loss.
Twenty-four hours later, 22-year-old Jeremy Swayman made his NHL debut, but Boston was dealt a second hurdle with some injury news right before the game. Thirty minutes before the puck was scheduled to be dropped, Boston announced that defensemen Charlie McAvoy would miss the game with an upper-body injury. Without McAvoy, Swayman saw a lot more shots than he thought he would have seen, but he was to the challenge.
Swayman made 40 saves, including 23 in the second period alone in a 4-2 Bruins’ win that moved them five points clear of the Flyers and New York Rangers in the standings. Captain Patrice Bergeron supplied the offense for Swayman by collected his 900th career point in the first period on his first of three goals in the game. Bergeron moved alone into fourth place on the Bruins all-time franchise list for points behind Ray Bourque (1,506), Johnny Bucyk (1,339), and Phil Esposito (1,102).
The situation in goal for the Bruins is now on a day-to-day basis. There is no telling when Halak comes back from the protocols list, while Tuukka Rask is still out with an upper-body injury. Vladar and Swayman played a big role in the Bruins’ two games against the Flyers, allowing them to gain some breathing room in the standings. It’s just five combined starts for the rookie goalies, but the results have been impressive so far.
Trade Deadline is Five Days Away
The NHL trade deadline is Monday at 3 p.m. with several teams expected to be active on the trade market looking to upgrade their roster for the late regular season and playoff push. Boston is expected to be one of those teams looking to add to their current roster and they have multiple needs.
A middle-six forward, preferably a right wing, should be at the top of Bruins’ general manager Don Sweeney’s list. Boston could also use a top-four defenseman to add to a young group that looks tired and has been outplayed in recent games. Rask is still out with an upper-body injury that is not healing as the Bruins medical staff and team would like, but there is encouraging news as he is traveling with the team on their current three-game road trip. Depending on the next couple of days, if Rask is not able to return, does Sweeney look for a goaltender? It’s highly doubtful that Sweeney addresses all three areas, but some type of move is necessary.
Carlo Injured Again
In what has become a common theme lately, Brandon Carlo became the second Bruins player in the last two weeks to return from an injury, only to be sidelined shortly after returning to the lineup. Rask returned on March 25 against the New York Islanders after missing five games because of an upper-body injury he sustained on March 7 against the New Jersey Devils. His return lasted just one period as he was replaced by Halak in the second period after reaggravating an upper-body injury.
Thursday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the TD Garden, Carlo was removed from the game after the first period when the team announced he had an upper-body injury. Carlo sustained a concussion on March 5 against the Washington Capitals on a hit from Tom Wilson and he missed 10 games before returning on March 30 against the Devils. Coach Bruce Cassidy has listed Carlo as week-to-week, which doesn’t sound promising for someone returning from a concussion.
Krejci and Marchand Reach Milestones
Following this season, David Krejci is a free agent with a lot of questions surrounding whether or not he will be back for the 2021-22 season in Boston. If this is his last season with the Bruins, he’s piling up the milestones in the shortened 56-game season. Saturday against the Penguins, Krejci collected his 500th career assist on David Pastrnak’s second-period goal in a 7-5 win. Krejci has 21 assists this season.
In Tuesday’s win over the Flyers, Marchand scored the game-winning in the third period shorthanded. It was Marchand’s 48th career shorthanded point and his 29th career shorthanded goal. He moved ahead of Bobby Orr and Ed Westfall for most points in franchise history shorthanded.
The Week Ahead
- Thursday: at Washington Capitals, 7 p.m.
- Saturday: at Philadelphia Flyers, 2 p.m.
- Sunday: vs. Washington Capitals, 7 p.m.
- Tuesday: vs. Buffalo Sabres, 7 p.m.
Scott Roche covers the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers. Scott has been a sports writer for 25 years for different sites and daily newspapers. Writing started out as a hobby, but it has become a passion for Scott over the years.