Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

Nov 2, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand (63) celebrates with goaltender Jeremy Swayman (1) after an overtime win against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

It’s not always a masterpiece, but what you can absolutely say about this year’s Bruins through their first 10-game segment of the 2023-24 campaign is that they find ways to win games.

Matched up against Toronto for the first of four head-to-heads with a reloaded Leafs squad — and without half of their ‘regular’ defense thanks to a suspension for Charlie McAvoy and injuries to both Matt Grzelcyk and Derek Forbort — the Bruins had to dig deep for the second time in as many games.

And this time, it require the opposite response to Monday’s comeback win over the Panthers, as the Bruins blew a two-goal lead in a span of 63 seconds in the middle frame, squandered power-play chances in both the third period and overtime frame, and were forced to buckle down throughout before a shootout victory came their way.

  • “That was a pretty good hockey game, huh?” a thrilled Jim Montgomery said as he took the podium for a postgame press conference at TD Garden. “We have a lot to get better at, but we find ways to win.”

    With the win, the Bruins improved to 9-0-1 on the year, meaning that the Bruins have grabbed 19 out of a possible 20 points to begin the new season. That’s somehow better than last year’s start to what was a record-breaking year for the club, as the 2022-23 Bruins began the year at 9-1-0.

    Here are the 98.5 The Sports Hub (dot com) 3 Stars from a win at TD Garden

  • No. 3 Star: Ilya Samsonov

    Oct 2, 2023; Toronto, Ontario, CAN;   Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Ilya Samsonov (35) waits for play to resume against the Montreal Canadiens in the second period at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

    Oct 2, 2023; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Ilya Samsonov (35) waits for play to resume against the Montreal Canadiens in the second period at Scotiabank Arena. (Dan Hamilton/USA TODAY Sports)

  • It’s been a less-than-stellar start to the season for the Leafs’ Ilya Samsonov.

    Entering Thursday’s start against the Bruins, Samsonov sat at 2-1-1 on the year, with a ghastly 3.99 goals against average and .841 save percentage. That .841 save percentage ranked dead last among the group of 47 goaltenders with at least four appearances this season, while that 3.99 figure ranked 44th.

    But a head-to-head with Boston seemed to bring the best out of the Russian netminder, who turned aside 38-of-40 shots faced over 65 minutes of action in this contest. While tracking the puck was sometimes an issue for Samsonov, he did come through with some big stops, including a big glove stop late in the game.

  • No. 2 Star: Jake DeBrusk

    Nov 2, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Jake DeBrusk (74) celebrates with his teammates after scoring a goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the second period at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    Nov 2, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Jake DeBrusk (74) celebrates with his teammates after scoring a goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs at TD Garden. (Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports)

  • Mired in what’s been an eight-game goalless drought to begin the year, Jake DeBrusk finally got a bounce to go his way, and at the perfect time for the Bruins.

    Deployed for 21:24 of time on ice, DeBrusk tied for the forward-lead in hits (three), while his four shots ranked second among all Boston skaters in this one. It was the closest thing this year’s team has seen to the all-around, complete game that DeBrusk brought to the rink every game last season.

    And DeBrusk kicked the shootout off with a move that’s become borderline automatic for him.

    Now comes seeing if DeBrusk can turn this into a heater, as he often has when finally breaking through for something tangible.

  • No. 1 Star: Jeremy Swayman

    Nov 2, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman (1) skates off the ice during an intermission in a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    Nov 2, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman (1) skates off the ice during an intermission in a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the TD Garden. (Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports)

  • Like he has all year now, Bruins netminder Jeremy Swayman continued to deliver Thursday night against the Maple Leafs. And this one required Swayman’s best effort yet, as the Alaskan-born netminder turned aside 33 of the 35 shots he faced, as well as both of Toronto’s shootout attempts, for the dub.

    What you had to like about Swayman’s game is that he remained a rock for the Bruins even after he allowed two goals in a span of just 1:03, and that he refused to let this game slip out of his team’s hands. You could also see the impact that his refusal on that front was making on the Leafs, who looked skyward after almost every sequence from the second period on and through the third period and overtime.

    Overall, Swayman was credited with stops on all seven of the high-danger shots he faced (per NaturalStatTrick). And with the win, Swayman improved to 5-0-0 on the year, but sadly, with the 33-of-35 performance, Swayman’s goals against average rose from 1.26 to 1.38 (shoutout the Misfits) and his save percentage dipped from .957 down to .954. Tsk tsk.

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