It was not a boring week with the Boston Bruins. Despite the Thanksgiving Holiday, there was plenty to discuss in this edition of Bruins Weekly. Boston avoids losing to a former goaltender for the second week in a row, more injuries, COVID protocols, and more.
Bruins Finally Beat an Ex-Teammate
Over the offseason, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney let backup goalie Jaroslav Halak walk in free agency to the Vancouver Canucks, while he traded youngster Dan Vladar to the Calgary Flames after signing Linus Ullmark. On Nov. 21, Vladar came to Boston and shut out his former team, 4-0, making 27 saves. Seven days later, Halak got the start for the Canucks against his old team and Boston was able to pull out a late win.
Trailing 2-1 entering the third period, the Bruins got power-play goals from Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak for a 3-2 win, despite 39 saves by Halak. Ullmark was in the net for the Black and Gold to get the win with 36 saves, despite giving up a shaky first-period goal. The win was a big one in many different ways for Boston as it was a much-needed two points in the standings, but how would it have looked if they were beaten by former goalies from last year’s team twice in seven days?
Frederic Returns, Blidh Gets Injured
Trent Frederic returned to the lineup Sunday night against the Canucks after missing seven games following a concussion he sustained from a Josh Brown hit during the Bruins 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators on Nov. 9. Frederic, who has played mostly on the wing during his time in Boston, was moved to his natural position at center on the third line between Nick Foligno and Karson Kuhlman.
While Frederic returned, Anton Blidh went down with a shoulder injury. In the third period, Blidh was hit from behind by Oliver Ekman-Larsson late in the period, which led to Pastrnak scoring the game-winning goal on the power play. Blidh had been playing good hockey before the injury, scoring the first goal in the win over the Canucks. He has given the bottom-six some energy with his shifts, before his injury.
Cassidy Enters COVID Protocols
Through the first 18 games of the season, the Bruins have been lucky not to have anyone have to enter COVID protocols. The New York Islanders had their games through Tuesday postponed as they deal with an outbreak and the Bruins’ luck ran out Tuesday morning prior to their pregame skate ahead of their game against the Detroit Red Wings.
Coach Bruce Cassidy was placed in COVID protocols and general manager Don Sweeney said that he was having “mild symptoms”. Assistant coach Joe Sacco is handling the head coaching duties in Cassidy’s place. The Bruins are hoping that this does not turn into a bigger issue moving forward as they already have a compacted schedule coming up and having to move games around into a tighter window would not be good down the line.
Things are not going well with the Providence Bruins in the American Hockey League (AHL) as they are in a COVID lockdown with their cases reportedly climbing into double digits. There is no chance of any help from the minors coming to Boston in the very near future.
5-on-5 Scoring Woes Continue
In their loss to the Canucks Sunday and the Red Wings Tuesday, the Bruins fired 42 shots on the net in each game, only to come away with four goals. Three of the four were scored on the power play, with Blidh’s goal in the first period over Vancouver being the only 5-on-5 goal in the last two games.
Things won’t get any easier for the Black and Gold as Marchand still has two more games this week to serve on his three-game suspension before he can return. It also does not help that a careless turnover at center ice against Detroit led to the game’s first goal on a breakaway to Boston in a hole. Digging a hole is not what the Bruins want to be doing as there does not seem to be much confidence that they can battle back 5-on-5 to get back in games. Right now, the only thing saving them is their power play. That has to change going forward and change quickly.
The Week Ahead
- Thursday: at Nashville Predators, 8 p.m.
- Saturday: vs. Tampa Bay Lightning, 7 p.m.
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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.