Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

Nov 20, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) celebrates with defenseman Victor Hedman (77), center Brayden Point (21), left wing Nicholas Paul (20) and right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) after he scores a goal against the Boston Bruins during the third period at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

There’s admittedly not much to complain about when it comes to the Bruins and their start to the 2023-24 campaign.

Through 17 games, the Bruins have grabbed 29 of a possible 34 points. They’re atop the Atlantic Division, Eastern Conference, and entire NHL for that matter. Almost all of the Bruins’ bargain-bin signings all have value-add, and the team has seen a much-needed increase in their scoring in the last week plus.

But if there’s one thing that’s emerged as a problem for this team, it’s their ability to truly lock down a game in its final moments. And we saw that once again Monday night in Tampa Bay, as the Bruins surrendered the game-tying goal with less than five seconds left in regulation on the way to an overtime loss to the Bolts.

  • For the Bruins, it was the sixth goal given up by the Bruins against an empty net this season (according to NaturalStatTrick), which is tops in the league. Now, the obvious qualifier here is that the Bruins have won so many games that they’ve had more time against an empty net than most teams (they’re 24-minute sample in these scenarios is tops in the league), opening the door for more trouble in those situations.

    But it’s a definite problem, and the Lightning certainly exposed it on the way to a two-point night.

    Here are the 98.5 The Sports Hub (dot com) 3 Stars from a loss in Tampa…

  • No. 3 Star: Victor Hedman

    Oct 26, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman (77) skates with the puck against the San Jose Sharks during the second period at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

    Oct 26, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman (77) skates with the puck against the San Jose Sharks during the second period at Amalie Arena. (Kim Klement Neitzel/USA TODAY Sports)

  • The 32-year-old Victor Hedman may not be the same guy he was four years ago, but nights like Monday against the Bruins tell you that he can still throw it back and be an offensive force for his club.

    Deployed for a Lightning-high 23:57, Hedman finished Monday’s game with an assist, a plus-3 rating, and five shots on goal. The Lightning also held an 18-6 edge in on-ice shots and 2-1 edge in goals during Hedman’s 15:22 run of five-on-five play. In a game where the Bolts outright dominated the puck, Hedman’s ability to create looks from the backend was especially noticeable, and seemed to downright wear the Bruins down late in the game.

  • No. 2 Star: Jeremy Swayman

    Nov 20, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Hampus Lindholm (27) and Boston Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman (1) celebrate after they scored against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the third period at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

    Nov 20, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Hampus Lindholm (27) and Boston Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman (1) celebrate after they scored against the Tampa Bay Lightning. (Kim Klement Neitzel/USA TODAY Sports)

  • It may seem crazy to consider a goaltender who gave up five goals to be one of the stars of the game, but holy crap, did Jeremy Swayman do what he could to will this team to a win.

    Tagged for 47 shots in the losing effort, Swayman made 42 saves, and became the first Bruins goaltender since Jaroslav Halak on Dec. 31, 2019 to make at least 40 saves and not record a victory. Overall, it’s something that’s happened to B’s netminder just 14 times since the 2005-06 season, with it happening to Bruins legend Tim Thomas a staggering 11 times during his run with the club.

    But even ignoring the total, Swayman had to stand on his head in the opening frame, and limited the damage to just one goal on 20 shots faced. Swayman was also on the wrong end of a 14-5 shot chart in the third period of play, and held Tampa’s power play at bay when they honestly should’ve scored on Swayman and the B’s killers long before the game-tying goal with 4.9 seconds left in the game.

  • No. 1 Star: Brandon Hagel

    Nov 20, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Brandon Hagel (38) skates with the puck against the Boston Bruins during the first period at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

    Nov 20, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Brandon Hagel (38) skates with the puck against the Boston Bruins during the first period at Amalie Arena. (Kim Klement Neitzel/USA TODAY Sports)

  • This comeback win for the Bolts had Brandon Hagel’s fingerprints all over it, as Hagel had the secondary assist on the game-tying goal, and then scored the game-winning goal in overtime.

    And if you’re sick of this guy torching the Bruins (and seemingly out of nowhere), I can’t blame you, with Hagel already up to six goals in just nine career head-to-heads with the Bruins.

Sign me up for the 98.5 The Sports Hub email newsletter!

Get the latest Boston sports news and analysis, plus exclusive on-demand content and special giveaways from Boston's Home for Sports, 98.5 The Sports Hub.

*
*
By clicking "Subscribe" I agree to the website's terms of Service and Privacy Policy. I understand I can unsubscribe at any time.