By Leon Lifschutz | Follow me @BruinsBreakdown
At some point it’s no longer a comeback, it’s the game plan. I’m sure it’s not how Bruce Cassidy wants it, but the Bruins have rallied from multiple goals down three games in a row on their way to picking up five out of six possible points. In addition to being impressive, it has been entertaining. Let’s break down the Bs resilient effort and assign some player grades.
While the numbers aren’t the whole story they can give us a glimpse into the flow of the game and a starting point for a discussion on what went well, or not so much, in a given game.
The Bruins felt more dominant in the first than the statistics suggest. They had a lot of zone time but some late Flyer’s chances tilted the expected goals towards the home team despite a period Boston was pleased with. The second was an even period with both teams getting a few, but not many, opportunities with the Flyers taking advantage of an extended shift in the offensive zone to score the lone goal. At 5v5, the third was the lowest event period as the Flyers shut things down after gaining the lead. However, the Bruins’ special teams managed two goals late in regulation and potted a third at the beginning of overtime to secure the victory.
The chart above shows how neck and neck this game was for most of the contest. Trailing late, the Bruins cranked it up managing to come back and surpass the Flyers in offense generated and on the scoreboard.
In this section, we give each player a grade for their play in this particular game. The grades are more art than science. The game scores below are one part of the equation giving us an objective measure to start with, though it doesn’t always tell you the true picture of an individual game. Hockey is a game of process and moments. Over the long haul, the process should win out but at a game-by-game level, moments matter. Both will be considered before assigning a grade to each player. Our expectations for each player will also be a factor.
Please feel free to agree or disagree in the comments or on Twitter but keep the name-calling to a minimum.
David Pastrnak (A+) – This is our first ever A+ and it is well deserved. Pastrank could still win the Rocket Richard despite missing a good chunk of games to open the season after making up ground tonight on the league leaders (Tyler Toffoli is first with nine, Pasta has 5). His assist on the game-winning goal was so savvy and showcased his underrated playmaking abilities.
David Krecji (A) – Krejci was a key cog in the Bruins’ best 5v5 line tonight. He set the tone in the first period breaking up several plays at the offensive blue line to keep the Bruins on offense and maintain pressure on the Flyers. He facilitated well all game and was a key component of the game tying and winning goals while manning the point on the man advantage.
Patrice Bergeron (A) – Bergeron had at least one high quality chance each period ending the game with 0.68 individual expected goals for. It just felt like he deserved a goal in this one and he got it in overtime with a great second effort. His ‘one-more’ pass to Pastrnak on the backdoor for the Bruins second goal might be the play of the game.
Nick Ritchie (A) – Ritchie had a few good chances of his own but what really stood out this game is how many great passes he made. He made plays while his line had extended possessions in the zone and off the rush. He had a great backhand pass with a man on him to Krejci late in the third. His key play, making a quick pass from the goal line to Bergeron at the crease, broke down the Flyers penalty kill structure leaving Pastrnak alone on the back door for the Bruins’ second of the night.
Kevan Miller (A) – Miller did not contribute much offense but he has really been coming along the last couple of games in his play with the puck. He was breaking the puck out efficiently and making plays in transition through the neutral zone. The rust after a two year layoff is gone and his decisions and transportation with the puck tonight were really good. He made another great escape turn (see last game) and rushed the puck the length of the ice for an early Boston chance. In the second he drew a penalty with great puck protection. He was quiet in the third but that probably has more to do with the Bruins looking for offense than his play.
Brad Marchand (B) – Marchand did not have his usual jump in this game. He was not his usual zone entry wizard, wasn’t driving play as a puck carrier, and had moments where he was fighting it a bit. He did do some positive things though with a great cross crease pass in the first that nearly went in, keeping the puck moving on the powerplay, and a great escape turn late in the third that drew a crucial penalty call.
Craig Smith (B) – Smith played his role on his line forechecking hard and keeping plays alive. He is showing a bit of chemistry with Krejci and Ritchie playing off each other to create turnovers and get open for each other in the offensive zone. Smith didn’t generate as many chances as usual in this game and had a couple stretches where he was quiet.
Tuukka Rask (B) – On two of the three goals Rask was victimized by cross-ice passes and the third came on a back door play. Plays across the royal road (middle of the ice) are particularly hard for goaltenders and back door plays are certainly not easy either. His best saves came late in the first and third with good stops on rush chances, something the Bruins conceded too many of in this game.
Charlie McAvoy (B) – McAvoy had a good game with numerous contributions to the win. His flip pass to Pastrnak got the game going on a positive note. His decision making in the offensive zone was good, often flashing into the play at the appropriate times. In the second, he shut down a 3v2 and 2v2 with great positioning and timing. He had two major guffaws. The first was a giveaway in front immediately following praise on the broadcast. The second was a risk at the offensive blue line which backfired and led to the Flyers third goal. That’s a tough one to lay on the Bruins’ ice time leader as the team was pressing for a goal and you would hope for high forward support, but greater awareness of the risks was warranted.
Sean Kuraly (B) – Kuraly’s line wasn’t very good but he was the best player on it. He regularly separated Flyers from the puck on the forecheck and was tough in the defensive zone. He put four shots on net including a really dangerous opportunity in tight after stealing the puck while shorthanded.
Jeremy Lauzon (B) – Lauzon had some good moments and bad moments. In the first he had some good pinches and rode a Flyer into the boards after a well played 1v1. Throughout the game he battled hard and had couple good shots at the net. He struggled a little with his breakouts and had a horrendous shift late in the third where he was beat clean through his triangle and took an overzealous penalty moments later.
Brandon Carlo (B) – Carlo did a number of nice things in this game but the results when he was on the ice were not there and are indicative of his limitations. He did a good job on his 1v1s and getting inside position on Flyers’ forwards especially on a second period rush. He had a couple nice moments on offense including a neutral zone interception and chance off the rush in the third. However, there were numerous times where his pair was buried in his zone. Carlo is wired to make subtle plays and is not capable of creating zone exits on his own, a challenge when he is not next to a player like Matt Grzelcyk.
Charlie Coyle (C) – Coyle continues to be quiet. He had one great rush where he split the defense but couldn’t get a shot off. He had another nice sequence with Fredric where he drove off the sideboard and worked a give and go. Both came in the middle of the second period and that was about it. His line spent quite a bit of time defending. Perhaps his revolving door or linemates is plaguing him or maybe he isn’t playing at one-hundred percent but ideally his game improves in the near future.
Trent Fredric (C) – Similar to Coyle, Fredric had a couple good shifts in the middle frame and he is improving at making plays on the sideboard during break outs. He finished the game with just one shot attempt and didn’t bring much physicality either. One wonders if Fredric is playing a little higher in the lineup than he is ready for.
Chris Wagner (C) – This was Wagner’s least noticeable game. He hasn’t gelled in a couple of auditions with Coyle and he found himself back with familiar running mates for a couple of effective shifts late in the third. Wagner did not register a shot attempt and posted the worst expected goals for percentage on the team.
Anton Blidh (C) – Blidh took a bad penalty pulling down a Flyer from behind despite it being a 1v3. Otherwise, he was fine in his season debut. He made an effort to get in on the forecheck and be responsible defensively. He didn’t impact the game much one way or another.
Anders Bjork (C) – In the second period, Bjork recovered the puck and took off on the rush. He had some speed backing off Kevin Hayes who was covering for a defender up ice. He then tried a cute little cutback move and was separated from the puck. This play exemplifies Bjork. He is a player who shows flashes but rarely gets results. He played a responsible game, but generated little and played a number of shifts in his own end.
Connor Clifton (C) – Clifton was alright in this contest. He had a couple good shots and he did a better job of not forcing plays on the breakout. He is a little tentative on some of his reads getting caught in no mans land on the occasional rush against. He also lost his angle and allowed Kevin Hayes to step right into the high slot uncontested in the third. When Clifton is on the ice the Bruins continue to see the ice tilted against them by a significant margin.
Jakub Zboril (C) – Zboril had a quiet game on offense, despite some offensive zone starts with McAvoy, and was just okay defending. He slid over to support on the Flyers second goal and a bad bounce made it look like he left the back door wide open – though it appears he did lose sight of Voracek as he sneakily rounded the net and the Flyers did gain possession on his botched retrieval. He was left alone to defend two streaking Flyers on the third goal against. He looked a little tentative early Philadelphia’s speed but settled down as the game went along. He showed some good gumption in the corners and the ability to win battles. He was lucky on a bad giveaway on a blind pass from behind his own net in the second.
Moment(s) of the night
And this guy…