In this edition of Boston Bruins Weekly, the Black and Gold return from the All-Star break to begin the second half of the season with more healthy bodies, more injury and possible retirement news gives a prospect a start, while two Bruins prospects get split results at the 69th annual Beanpot.
Bruins Getting Heathly Following Break
Following their seven-day break for All-Star weekend, the Bruins got some much-needed help with the return of some of their injured bodies ahead of their 4-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Veteran Nick Foligno returned to the lineup after missing four games as the fourth-line left wing. Also returning was center Erik Haula, who missed the final two games before the break against the Dallas Stars and Seattle Kraken after being placed in COVID-19 protocols.
Boston was still missing a few bodies against the Penguins. Goalie Tuukka Rask is still sidelined, as is young defensemen Urho Vaakanainen, who suffered an upper-body injury in the Bruins 3-2 win over the Kraken on Feb 1. Trent Frederic is close to returning and could be in the lineup later this week. Captain Patrice Bergeron left in the third period of Tuesday’s loss to Pittsburgh after colliding with Sidney Crosby.
Swayman Strong in Providence Start During All-Star Break
The 2021-22 story of Jeremy Swayman is well known by now. He started the season in Boston with Linus Ullmark and going 8-6-2 with a 2.31 goals-against average (GAA) and a .916 save percentage (SV%) in 17 games, but when Tuukka Rask signed a free agent contract on Jan. 11, Swayman was sent down to the Providence Bruins in the American Hockey League (AHL). On Jan. 30, Swayman returned to the Black and Gold when Rask was sidelined with a lower-body injury, but with the All-Star break this past weekend, the Bruins returned him to the AHL and he responded with a solid strong start, which is more than likely why he started against the Penguins Tuesday night.
In a 2-1 overtime victory on the road against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Saturday night, Swayman made 26 saves, including four point-blank stops in overtime. With 31 seconds left in the extra session, Jesper Froden buried a Steve Fogarty pass for the win. In five games with the P-Bruins this season, Swayman has a 2.39 GAA.
Swayman’s stay in Boston might be for good as Fluto Shinzawa of The Athletic reported during Tuesday’s game that Rask’s comeback bid might be over sooner rather than expected (from ‘Bruins don’t expect Tuukka Rask to continue comeback attempt: Sources’, The Athletic, 2/8/22).
Bruins Get Third Crack at Hurricanes
One of the top teams in the Eastern Conference comes to Boston on Thursday night when the Carolina Hurricanes make their second appearance in a month at the TD Garden. In the middle of the Bruins’ seven-game January homestand on Jan. 18, the Metropolitan Division leaders thumped the Black and Gold 7-1 after five first-period goals on Rask.
In the two teams first meeting on Oct. 28 in North Carolina, Frederik Anderssen turned back all 33 Boston shots in a 3-0 victory. This is going to be a big week in terms of the Bruins facing Metropolitan Division teams, as they will travel to Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night to face the New York Rangers.
There’s still plenty of hockey left in the 2021-22 regular season, but by holding down the final Eastern Conference wild card spot, there’s a chance that either the Hurricanes or Rangers could be a first-round playoff opponent for the Bruins, should they get there in a wild card spot. The road ahead for the Black and Gold could be a bumpy one if Bergeron misses time with an injury and if Brad Marchand misses time with another suspension from the league.
Mixed Results for Bruins Prospects at the Beanpot
After a one-year absence, the annual college hockey in-season tournament resumed on Monday night at the TD Garden with the 69th edition of the Beanpot. Two Bruins prospects got an opportunity to play on the home ice of the team that drafted them in recent Entry Drafts and it was a split decision for the two players.
In the opener, Boston University built a 4-1 lead midway through the second period before holding off a late Harvard rally for a 4-3 win. Boston University freshman defensemen Ty Gallagher, drafted in the seventh round by the Bruins in 2021, had the primary assist on the fourth Terriers’ goal when his shot from the point was redirected by Ethan Phillips. In the nightcap, despite outshooting Northeastern, 42-29, Boston College lost 3-1, with Bruins 2020 draft pick Trevor Kuntar landing three shots on the net with some very good opportunities that were turned back by Huskies goalie TJ Semptimphelter.
Gallagher and BU will go for their 31st Beanpot title on Feb. 14 at 8 p.m. at the TD Garden against Northeastern. Harvard and Boston College will play in the consolation game at 4:30 p.m.
The Week Ahead
- Thursday: vs. Carolina Hurricanes, 7 p.m.
- Saturday: at Ottawa Senators, 12:30 p.m.
- Tuesday: at New York Rangers, 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.