Bruins Weekly: Dynamic Net Duo, Bergeron’s Climb & More

In what was one of their biggest road trips in recent seasons, the Boston Bruins answered the bell in Western Canada. In this edition of Bruins Weekly, we look back at what made the road trip a success, another milestone for the captain, Boston benefitted from secondary scoring, a COVID-19 outbreak, and more.

Swayman & Ullmark Make Western Canada Trip Successful

Sometimes when a team is struggling, a road trip could be just what is needed to bond a team together that helps them turn the corner as a group. If that ends up being the case for the Bruins, their three-game road trip through Western Canada could be looked back on as a turning point in their season.

Related: Bruins’ Early Season Struggles Against Top Teams is Concerning

Facing the Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames with three games in four nights, the Black and Gold did not play their best hockey in the three games, but secured five out of a possible six points on the trip to climb into playoff positioning in the Eastern Conference for the first time this season. Goaltenders Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark were a big reason why it was a successful trip. Ullmark stopped 81 of the 85 shots he faced in regulation wins against the Oilers and Flames in the last two games, while Swayman stopped 31 of the 32 shots fired at him by the Canucks to help the Bruins get a point in their shootout loss.

“Credit to our group in the third period for responding the way they did the last two games and sticking to it and playing the way that they want to play. It was a successful road trip. Five out of six points. It wasn’t an easy trip for us, especially the travel and the back-to-back that we had, so we’re real proud of our players as a staff and what they did on this trip.”

Bruins assistant coach Joe Sacco

In the three games, Boston gave up five goals, four on the power play, with Sean Monahan’s goal with 1:36 left in the third period in the Bruins 4-2 win over the Flames being the only 5-on-5 goal when a pass deflected off of his skate and into the net. It was a good trip for the two goalies, especially with veteran free agent Tuukka Rask hanging around Warrior Ice Arena rehabbing from hip surgery and possibly looking to continue his career with Boston at some point this season.

Penalty-Killing Big Success on Trip

Yes, the Bruins gave up four power-play goals on the trip, but in the big picture, it could have been a lot worse. They took 14 minor penalties in the three games, but they held the Oilers and Flames to a combined 3-for-9, which considering their powerful power plays, is not too bad in two regulation wins. The Black and Gold even got a shorthanded goal against Edmonton from Brad Marchand.

Derek Forbort, Erik Haula, and Brandon Carlo each logged over 10 minutes in the three games of time-on-ice shorthanded, while McAvoy closed in on the 10-minute mark at 9:22 and Charlie Coyle was 8:53. Bottom-six forwards Curtis Lazar, Anton Blidh, along with defenseman Connor Clifton and John Moore also played a key role down a man. One thing that has been consistent this season has been the Bruins penalty-killing units and that was evident on their trip.

Bruins Get Second Helpings

Aside from the goaltending, there were a few other notable positives for the Bruins from their road trip. In the wins over Edmonton and Calgary, they got something they have been missing this season, secondary scoring. Jake DeBrusk and Matt Grzelcyk each tallied a goal in the 3-2 win over the Oilers, while Clifton, Lazar, and McAvoy combined for three of the four goals against the Flames. 

Curtis Lazar Boston Bruins
Curtis Lazar, Boston Bruins (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

DeBrusk’s goal was his fifth of the season, which ties his total from the 2020-21 season, while Grzelcyk and Clifton each recorded their first. Lazar’s goal was his second of the season. Going forward, any production of any kind from the bottom nine will be beneficial for the Bruins. 

Bruins Place Two in COVID-19 Protocols

On Monday morning, the Flames announced that they placed six players in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocols, which forced the cancellations of their games through Thursday. Tuesday, that number grew to nine when three more were added, which is not good news for the Bruins following their victory over Calgary Saturday night. All nine players placed in protocols played against Boston.

Tuesday morning, the Bruins announced that Smith and Marchand were placed in COVID-19 protocols ahead of their game with the Vegas Golden Knights at the TD Garden. The number of players from Saturday’s game between the two teams is up to 11 that are in COVID-19 protocols. There’s a good bet that the numbers on both will increase. Smith and Marchand could miss up to six games and not be eligible to return until Dec. 27. Late Tuesday, the Bruins recalled Jack Studnicka and Oskar Steen from the Providence Bruins in the American Hockey League (AHL).

Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins
Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

It is also worth noting that the Canucks and Oilers each placed players in the protocols Tuesday also.

Bergeron Passes Esposito

With his two assists against the Flames, Patrice Bergeron passed Phil Esposito for fourth on the Bruins’ all-time list for assists with 555. If Bergeron is going to make it to the third spot on the list, he’s got some work ahead of him. Bobby Orr is next on the list with 624 and Bergeron, whose contract expires following the season, will most likely need to play into the 2022-23 season to reach the franchise great.

Bruins Hit the Road…….Again

Boston’s 4-1 loss against the Golden Knights at home was just a pitstop for the Bruins following their Western Canada swing. They will embark on another three-game road trip with stops against the New York Islanders at their new home, USB Arena, before back-to-back games against the Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators this weekend as they conclude a stretch of six out of seven games on the road. All three teams are below the Black and Gold in the standings, but this has the potential to be a tough trip without Marchand and Smith. The Senators are coming off an 8-2 thumping of the Florida Panthers Tuesday night in Florida.

The Week Ahead

  • Thursday: at New York Islanders, 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday: at Montreal Canadiens, 7 p.m.
  • Sunday: at Ottawa Senators, 5 p.m.
  • Tuesday: vs. Carolina Hurricanes, 7 p.m.

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