Boston Bruins

  • Thursday’s showdown between the Bruins and Flyers was hardly a masterpiece.

    In fact, through 40 minutes, it was a borderline joyless experience beyond the play of the Bruins’ Linus Ullmark and Philadelphia’s Carter Hart. There was just nothin’ doing for either side beyond the crease outside of some defensive gaffes and power-play misses by both teams. But when you’re hot, you’re hot and you find ways to turn even the most mundane experience into something thrilling, which is exactly what the Bruins did by the end of the night with a third-period pullaway that ended with Hart racing off the ice and down the tunnel in pure frustration.

    “A product of us not having played in three days, which is the longest we’ve gone [without a game] this year since we started,” Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery said of a hot-and-cold game. “I think our guys were too excited to play.”

    That excitement eventually settled into a groove, kicked off by Tomas Nosek’s second goal in as many games, and led to three third-period markers, including two from David Krejci.

    It was just the latest example of everything seeming to inevitably bounce this team’s way.

    This was a game that had no reason to turn into the laugher that it ultimately became, and it’s actually hilarious to realize that the Bruins never trailed in a game that simply wasn’t theirs for large segments.

    But that’s been a staple of the Bruins’ otherworldly home cooking through 10 games at TD Garden, as the team has trailed for just nine minutes and 34 seconds of game action through their first 10 home games. And, no, that’s not a typo. Nine minutes and 34 seconds. Less than a minute per game.

    That’s buzzsaw status.

    “Well, I think it allows us to continue to play with confidence,” Montgomery said of playing with a lead. “You know, once you lead, you want to keep playing and holding onto pucks, which I thought we were good at holding onto pucks today. The more you hold onto pucks with a lead, the more the other team’s going to get out of position and really try to cheat towards trying to pressure mistakes high, which if you were up the goal line, you’re going to have numbers at their net.”

    And with 15 wins through 17 games, there’s definitely not a lack of confidence within that dressing room.

    “At the end of the day, you gotta execute [and] I think we’re confident in executing because a guy’s there to help us out,” B’s winger Nick Foligno said following the victory. “A lot of times there’s a battle and we’re winning those one-on-one battles and 50-50 pucks and that makes a big difference in winning or losing in this league. I think that’s really where you’re seeing our success right now. We’re a real good team one-on-one. And we can get better, obviously, but we really commit to that side of the puck and it makes a lot of fun going to play the other way.”

  • Nov 17, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Nick Foligno (17) leaps in front of Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Carter Hart (79) in anticipation of an incoming shot during the first period at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports

    Nov 17, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Nick Foligno (17) leaps in front of Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Carter Hart (79) in anticipation of an incoming shot during the first period. (Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports)

  • Now, this isn’t the first time that Foligno has been part of a run like this. He captained the Blue Jackets squad that won 16 games in a row and came within one win of tying the NHL record for longest win streak back in 2016-17. He was also part of that Senators club that won 15 of their first 17 games to begin the 2007-08 season.

    But this? This feels different, Foligno says.

    “I said we’re a confident but not cocky group,” Foligno offered. “You know, I think sometimes your habits really slip when you go through that. I know in Columbus, it kind of did. We were just winning and it was like some games we didn’t deserve to win but when you’re on a roll and feeling good, you just catch lightning in a bottle. Here, it’s a little different.

    “It’s different ways of winning every night, different guys stepping up, and a different attitude. There’s an expectation to win, but there’s an understanding of how we’re going to do that. You know, no one’s cheating it, no one’s trying to go, ‘Oh, we’re feeling good. We’re going to cheat for offense.’ It’s by committee. And I take a lot of pride in seeing all those guys commit like that. It says something about this group that we’re building something special.”

    Here are some other thoughts and notes from a 4-1 win over the Flyers

  • Zacha trade looking like another win for Don Sweeney

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - OCTOBER 17: Pavel Zacha #18 of the Boston Bruins looks on during the first period against the Florida Panthers at TD Garden on October 17, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – OCTOBER 17: Pavel Zacha #18 of the Boston Bruins looks on during the first period against the Florida Panthers at TD Garden on October 17, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

  • It’s still early, as everybody incapable of experiencing happiness is quick to tell you, but this past summer’s Haula-for-Zacha swap is showing early signs of being a big ol’ dub for Bruins general manager Don Sweeney.

    In what was just his 17th game with the Bruins, the do-it-all forward racked up another two helpers, including a nifty one-handed poke to David Krejci for the Black and Gold’s third goal of the evening. (The goal was a gigantic one for the Bruins, really, as it came mere seconds after their first and only goal of the evening, and really beat the final gasp out of Philly.)

    The two-helper night brings Zacha up to 11 points on the season, and has him paced for what would be a career-high 53 points with the Bruins this season. This, of course, is after Zacha tallied a career-high 36 points in Jersey last season. Or, in other words, he’s currently paced to shatter that figure.

    Assuming health, Zacha would need just 25 points over the final 65 games to match last year’s best. On this team, and with the minutes he’s logging, setting a new career-high almost seems like an inevitability for the 25-year-old.

    Haula, in case you’re wondering, has zero goals and six assists through 17 games with the Devils.

  • Eating some crow with Tomas Nosek

    Nov 12, 2022; Buffalo, New York, USA;  Boston Bruins left wing Tomas Nosek (92) during the first period against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig/USA TODAY Sports

    Nov 12, 2022; Buffalo, New York, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Tomas Nosek (92) during the first period against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center. (Timothy T. Ludwig/USA TODAY Sports)

  • Having opinions and thoughts blow up in my face is nothing new to me. It’s an occupational hazard, in fact.

    And like I’ve always said in a postgame column regarding the Nov. 17 game between the Bruins and Flyers, if a .326 average was good enough for 2003 Bill Mueller to win a batting title, missing on .674 percent of opinions and thoughts should be good enough for everybody. (Call it The Mueller Scale.)

    One thing I am completely and officially comfortable admitting: I was painfully wrong about Tomas Nosek’s fit on this 2022-23 squad. I was borderline shocked when Nosek wasn’t part of the group of veterans waived at the end of training camp. His camp was that pedestrian, and I just didn’t see the fit beyond the obviously logically one of his status as a left-shooting faceoff option on a team that didn’t have many of team.

    But he’s been great for this team out of the gate, and Thursday may have been his best effort to date.

    Not only did Nosek score his first ‘real’ goal since Jan. 2, but the defensive-zone specialist remained exactly that, with wins in seven of his nine battles at the faceoff dot, and a 3:15 shorthanded sample that didn’t see the Flyers credited with a single shot attempt during that stretch. That’s ridiculous.

    Averaging 3:02 of shorthanded time on ice per game (second-most among Bruins forwards, fifth most among all Boston skaters) for a B’s penalty that ranks second in the NHL at 90.6, Nosek has been nails with the B’s down a man or two. At a league-best (or near league-best) clip, too.

    One of 79 forwards to log at least 30 minutes of penalty kill work this season, Nosek, who has logged 51:28 of penalty-killing action to date, is tied with the Sharks’ Logan Couture for on-ice power-play goals against (one). That’s tops among that group of 79, and it’s absolutely worth noting that Nosek has logged over 21 more minutes of shorthanded ice-time than Couture. Rate it out per 60 and Nosek’s on-ice goals against of 1.17 is .80 better than Couture. Nosek has also been one of the league’s better shorthanded shot-suppressors, with an on-ice shots against per 60 of 39.64, which is sixth-best among that group of 79.

    The man is executing his role better than any player(s) my dumb brain felt deserved his ice time.

  • Everything else…

    Nov 17, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark (35) keeps his eyes on a shot through a screen by Philadelphia Flyers left wing Noah Cates (49) during the third period at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports

    Nov 17, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark (35) keeps his eyes on a shot through a screen by Philadelphia Flyers left wing Noah Cates (49) during the third period. (Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports)

  • • It’s been some time since I’ve seen a goalie look as locked in as Linus Ullmark has been through 14 games this season. For this long of a stretch, especially. Through 14 games, Ullmark has recorded 12 victories and currently leads the league with a .937 save percentage and 1.89 goals against average. So, how does that stack up against the greatest single season goaltending performance I’ve ever seen (2010-11 Tim Thomas) and his first 14 games?

    ’22-23 Ullmark: 12-1-0, .937 save percentage, 1.89 goals against average, 12.54 goals saved above average.

    ’10-11 Thomas: 11-1-1, .955 save percentage, 1.46 goals against average, 19.63 goals saved above average.

    Both guys were leading the league in save percentage, goals against average, and goals saved above average 14 games into their respective seasons, but Thomas was truly on another level. But I mean, at least Ullmark is close? And whenever you’re close to even touching 2010-11 Thomas, you’re definitely doing your job in the crease.

    • Vintage stuff from David Krejci on Thursday night. Out there for over 15 minutes of five-on-five play, the Bruins controlled shot attempts by a 22-10 mark with No. 46 on the ice, and the Krejci line thrived with both Jake DeBrusk and Pavel Zacha on the right wing opposite Taylor Hall. And the two goals from Krejci were sweet.

    “I thought he was really on,” Montgomery said. “Like everything looked on. He looked faster, he was stronger on pucks, he was holding onto pucks, he was skating away from people. I could tell that he was on his game with how quickly he was closing out people in the defensive zone. I thought he was a great 200-foot player tonight.”

    • The NHL is a better league when the Flyers are good. This team is simply not fun to watch, and I’m not sure that’s going to change anytime soon. People panic about where the Bruins are potentially trending, perhaps as soon as 2023-24, but the Flyers are truly a team lost in the void. I just can’t see it getting that bad for the Bruins.

    • They’ve been doing this for a few years now, but I simply love that they play Comeback Kid’s “Wake The Dead” at TD Garden before power plays. Oh, to be 13 years old and running across Burlington Mall Road from the mall to the Newbury Comics in that plaza to buy that CD again. (Sorry for almost getting hit by a car on, like, 14 different occasions over the years, Mom.)

    • Thursday was Military Appreciation Night at TD Garden. As is tradition, a group of Bruins players pooled their money together and bought over $26,000 in tickets for active military members and veterans. That group of players included Brandon Carlo, Connor Clifton, Charlie Coyle, Nick Foligno, Derek Forbort, Trent Frederic, Matt Grzelcyk, Charlie McAvoy, Mike Reilly, Craig Smith, and Jeremy Swayman.