In this week’s edition of Bruins Weekly, Jaroslav Halak passes teammate Tuukka Rask on the all-time shutout list, the power play struggles, injuries mount on defense, Willie O’Ree’s jersey retirement is postponed, and more.
Halak Climbs Past Rask on Shutout List
Halak played the middle game of the Bruins three-game, four-day trip last week and he had quite the performance against the New York Rangers on Friday night. He made 21 saves as Boston won their fifth game in a row with a 1-0 victory. He stopped all 10 shots he faced in the first period and all 11 shots he faced in the final two periods, many while the Bruins were shorthanded. The Rangers went 0-for-6 on the man advantage in the game.
The win improved the 35-year-old Halak to 4-0-1 on the season, but the shutout was the 51st of his career and he moved one ahead of Rask to 27th on the all-time list. Halak has been very good this season for the Bruins in the five games he has played in. He has a 1.38 goals-against average (GAA), with a .938 save percentage (SV%), and has allowed two goals or fewer in four of the five games.
Power Play Struggles
The Bruins managed to win two of their three games against the Rangers and New York Islanders last week without the benefit of a power-play goal. They went a combined 0-for-8 in the three games and have not scored on their last 11 opportunities dating back to Feb. 5. Patrice Bergeron scored the last power-play goal in overtime to beat the Philadelphia Flyers, 4-3 on Feb. 3.
Credit has to be given to both the Rangers and Islanders penalty-killing units in frustrating the Bruins. Both teams took away David Pastrnak and also limited the touches Bergeron had in the bumper. When the Boston power play is going like it was last season, Pastrnak and Bergeron both have a hand in the success of the first unit, but both were taken away by the two New York teams.
More Injuries to the Defense
The Bruins just can’t seem to catch a break in terms of injuries in the first 14 games. Matt Grzelcyk returned to the lineup on Feb. 10 against the Rangers after missing the previous four games with an upper-body injury. His return lasted just one game as he suffered another setback with a lower-body injury. Losing Grzelcyk is a big blow to the blue line as he has been given Torey Krug’s power-play duties and has had a good start to the season with new partner Brandon Carlo in the games he has played in.
Saturday night, rookie defensemen Jakub Zboril left after the first period against the Islanders with an upper-body injury. Paired with Charlie McAvoy, Zboril has had a strong start to the season. In 14 games, he has two assists, a plus-2, and has 12 shots on net while averaging 17:26 a night. Losing Grzelcyk or Zboril for any amount of time will test the Bruins’ questionable blue line depth again.
Outdoor Game in Lake Tahoe is Sunday
Following their game with the New Jersey Devils Thursday night at the TD Garden, the Bruins will head out to Lake Tahoe, Nevada for their game against the Flyers on Sunday as part of the NHL Outdoors at Lake Tahoe this weekend. The game will be played at the Edgewood Tahoe Resort without fans in attendance and is the second game of the weekend. The Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche play Saturday.
This will be the fifth game of the season between the Bruins and Flyers with Boston winning the first four. It also is the second time the two teams have played an outdoor game. On Jan. 1, 2010, the Bruins won 2-1 in overtime at Fenway Park in the annual NHL Winter Classic on a Marco Sturm goal.
O’Ree Jersey Retirement Postponed
Thursday night was supposed to be a special night at the TD Garden as Boston was scheduled to retire the No. 22 of Willie O’Ree to the rafters. O’Ree broke a huge barrier during the 1957-58 season when he became the first Black man to play in an NHL game. He made his debut for the Bruins against the Montreal Canadiens on Jan. 18, 1958.
O’Ree’s jersey retirement Thursday was to be virtual because of COVID-19 as fans are not allowed to attend games in person yet at the TD Garden. The Bruins and O’Ree agreed to move the ceremony to Jan. 18, 2022, 64 years to the day of his historic night, so that fans can be in attendance. The decision to move the jersey retirement is the right one as a ceremony like this deserves to have fans in the arena for a man who broke down a huge wall for more Black NHL players.
The Week Ahead
- Thursday: vs. New Jersey Devils, 7 P.M.
- Sunday: vs. Philadelphia Flyers, at Lake Tahoe, Nevada, 3 P.M.
Scott Roche covers the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers. A frequent user of the Oxford comma. 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.