In this edition of Boston Bruins Weekly, the Black and Gold finally get some secondary scoring that makes a difference in a game, Jeremy Swayman’s perfect home record is broken at the hands of a former teammate, and more.
Bruins Finally Get Secondary Scoring
Through the first month of the 2021-22 season, the Bruins have been relying on the first line for most of their production. As has been the case in recent seasons, secondary scoring is a big issue for coach Bruce Cassidy and his team. In their 5-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Nov. 20 at the Wells Fargo Center, Boston got what it has been missing early in the season, secondary scoring.
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Four of the five goals against Flyers goalie Martin Jones were scored by either bottom-six forwards or from the defense. Derek Forbort scored two goals, giving him a career-high four through the first 15 games of the season. Both of his goals were scored in the second period, sandwiched around two Derick Brassard goals for Philadelphia. The other goals were scored by Tomas Nosek and Craig Smith. It was the first goal of the season for Smith, who also had an assist, and it takes a big weight off of his shoulders as he battles through an undisclosed injury.
“He’s been playing through an injury, it was working against him,’’ said Cassidy. “As a result, he wasn’t the same player on the ice. Trying to get into practice on a regular basis, find a line. He was with (Charlie) Coyle earlier, today he’s with (Erik) Haula and (Jake) DeBrusk….. He had his usual jump. To go around (Sanheim), that’s what he can do, and then finish.’’
The final goal was scored by David Pastrnak to help the Black and Gold record their third consecutive win, a season-high. For one night in the first month of the season, the Bruins got what they were waiting for, secondary scoring, and they needed it.
Vladar Shuts Out Former Team
When the Bruins signed Linus Ullmark to a four-year, $20 million contract this offseason, general manager Don Sweeney needed to do something with his two young goalies, Swayman and Dan Vladar. Sweeney ended up sending Vladar to the Calgary Flames for a third-round draft pick in 2022. Sunday night at the TD Garden, the former Bruin stole the show.
In a 4-0 Calgary victory, Vladar stopped 27 shots for his second shutout of the season. In his first season with the Flames, the 24-year-old is 4-0-1 with a 1.57 goals-against average (GAA) and a .946 save percentage (SV%). It is easy to sit back and say that the Bruins could have had a Swayman/Vladar tandem to begin the season and not signed Ullmark to use the money elsewhere, but do a lot of Bruins fans have that thought if the result was reversed?
“It means a lot, but I just came here with the mindset to get a W. I wasn’t trying to think about who I’m playing against, because obviously I’ve got a bunch of friends on the Bruins team. I want them to do well, but if you come here as an opponent – I knew my role, I know who I’m playing against, I know who is my family. The shutout… If you would have told me yesterday, I wouldn’t have believed it. Obviously, it’s great, but the season is still at the start, so you can’t get too high from it. You still have to keep going.”Dan Vladar
The loss snapped Swayman’s perfect record in home games to begin his career. The loss dropped the Bruins 111th pick in the fourth round of the 2017 Entry Draft to 8-1 at home with a 1.54 GAA and a .934 SV%. Eventually, you knew that the streak was going to end, but you never thought that it would happen at the hands of his former teammate.
Annual Bruins Tradition Returns
For the first time in 30 years, the Bruins did not play their annual post-Thanksgiving Day game in 2020. With the coronavirus throwing the league into a crazy 2020-21 season that featured the season beginning in January and a 56-game schedule against realigned division opponents only. After a one-year hiatus, the annual tradition returns to the TD Garden Friday afternoon.
This year, the New York Rangers will make their way to Boston for the annual game at 1 p.m. Last season, the two teams were part of the realigned MassMutual Division and played eight times, with the Black and Gold winning the season series 5-3. This season, New York is playing very good hockey under new coach Gerard Gallant and sits near the top of the loaded Metropolitan Division at 11-4-3. They are led by Chris Kreider with 13 goals and Artemi Panarin has 15 assists, with 19 points.
The game will mark the beginning of a three-game homestand for the Bruins. After the Rangers, the Vancouver Canucks make their only appearance this season in Boston, followed by the Detroit Red Wings. Boston beat the Red Wings, 5-1, at the TD Garden on Nov. 2, but Detroit was missing Dylan Larkin in the lineup, who is leading a turnaround this season for his team, which is currently in fourth place in the Atlantic Division, one point ahead of Boston.
The Week Ahead
- Wednesday: at Buffalo Sabres, 7 p.m.
- Friday: vs. New York Rangers, 1 p.m.
- Sunday: vs. Vancouver Canucks, 7 p.m.
- Tuesday: vs. Detroit Red Wings, 7 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.