By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
After erasing three-goal deficits in Washington and climbing out of a two-goal hole two nights before, overcoming Friday’s one-goal deficit was probably as taxing for the Bruins as a pregame warmup.
It sure looked like it, too.
Chasing the game after a James van Riemsdyk power-play goal in the opening minute of the third period, the Bruins threw their superhuman first line at the Flyers for the game-tying tally. It was your usual movement mastery from the B’s, as Charlie McAvoy’s activation came with David Pastrnak on the point to take advantage of a careening puck to send towards Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron jamming at the front of the Philly net.
The Bruins then needed just 27 seconds to find the go-ahead tally from fourth-line motor Sean Kuraly. Bada bing. Wit’ a pipe.
For Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy, this was a win from all 20 guys pulling their weight and sticking with it to the bitter end.
“Just a greasy goal around the net and then Sean Kuraly comes up big for us [and] they make a play through the neutral zone,” Cassidy said. “Stuff you need to win. It’s gotta be different guys. Leaders lead, followers follow, and I thought our followers followed real well on the offensive side of things in the third period.”
And these third period have become the magic hour for the Black and Gold.
With Friday’s two-goal third period behind them, the Bruins concluded their four-game road swing with 11 third-period goals, and they now have 19 third-period goals on the season. That’s tied with the Canucks for the most in the NHL, and this is where we mention that the Canucks have played three more games than the Bruins. That’s an extra hour of playing time to the Canucks’ name, so, yeah, pretty noteworthy.
Boston’s plus-nine third-period goal differential is also tops among all NHL teams, with the Golden Knights (plus-eight) and Predators (plus-seven) right behind them. They’ve also churned out a league-best 2-0-1 record when trailing after two periods of hockey, with Vegas directly behind them in this stat as well.
“I think we’re just deep and we have the belief in our room that we’re never out of a game,” Marchand said. “We almost seem to play a little better when we’re down. We just know we can come back from any situation. And when we play our game, the way we can, we’re a tough team to play and we’re gonna create opportunities and we’re gonna break teams.”
It’s one thing to say it. But it’s another to do it. And the B’s have done the latter. Consistently.
In other words, the Bruins are truly never out of a game.
Their opponents know it, too.
“They’re one of the best teams in the league,” Flyers coach Alain Vigneault, whose team is winless in four tries against the Bruins this season (and blown third-period leads in all but one of them), said after his team’s latest loss. “They’ve got that top line that’s playing extremely well right now. In my mind, they were the difference tonight.”
“They just keep playing,” van Riemsdyk noted. “We just got to do a better job closing games out. Obviously having a lead in the third, we got to make those automatic. Certainly that’s a good team and some of their key players made some big plays over the course of these games to get them back in the mix of the game. We got to find a way to close the games out.”
That’s if the Bruins let ’em, anyway.
Here’s some other thoughts and notes from a 2-1 win in Philly…
Anders Bjork gets promotion to second line
Bruins winger Anders Bjork’s tour of the forward unit continued Friday, as he was elevated to the second line with Nick Ritchie and David Krejci for the majority of this contest.
Bjork ended up back with Kuraly for the game-winning goal (and recorded an assist on the goal for his second point of the season), and his 13:30 was his fourth-highest nightly total of the season.
So, for those keeping track at home: Bjork has played the right wing on the first line, both the left and right side of Boston’s fourth line, and had cups of coffee to the left and right of Krejci at certain points this season. This man is a nomad. But the fact that he’s moving up the lineup and not down (or out of it entirely) is only a positive considering the undeniably critical junction the Bruins and Bjork are approaching in terms of his career and NHL expectations.
One thing you still want to see more: Shots. Shots, shots, shots, and more shots.
Bjork finished without a shot on goal for the seventh time in 11 appearances this season, and he has totaled just two shots (and has just 11 attempts) in over 110 minutes of five-on-five play this season. To put that in perspective, there’s 410 NHL players who have played at least 100 minutes of five-on-five play this season, and only one player has landed fewer shots on goal than Bjork (the Blues’ Robert Thomas has just one shot). Bjork is also averaging the eighth-fewest attempts per 60 minutes of five-on-five play among the group of 248 forwards with at least 100 five-on-five minutes this season, at 5.95.
Sean Kuraly continues to score big goals
B’s fourth-line pivot Sean Kuraly now has two goals and an assist on the year. Both goals are game-winning tallies and the assist was the primary helper on Brandon Carlo’s game-winning goal in Washington earlier this week. Making ’em count.
About as perfect as it could get for Road Warrior Bruins
The Bruins took to the road chasing the Capitals and Flyers in the East Division standings, and ended that four-game swing with seven of a possible eight points to their name and in sole possession of the top spot in the East. Hard to draw it up any better than that, especially when looking at everything they overcame to post that 3-0-1 record.