By Michael DiGiorgio | Follow Me On Twitter: @BostonDiGiorgio
Lake Tahoe’s scenery wasn’t the only near-masterpiece that was on display Sunday night. The Boston Bruins put on a clinic against the depleted Philadelphia Flyers, cruising to a 7-3 win. The Bruins’ win gives them a 3-1 win record when playing outdoors and an unofficial 2-0 record for their pregame dress attire.
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.
Data Courtesy of Natural Stat Trick
The Bruins and Flyers seemed to have a feeling-out period in the first period, playing quite an even game. Thankfully, the Bruins only needed the first 20 minutes to get going, as they rifled off 4 goals in the second and never looked back. Their second and third period numbers (especially face-off and shot percentages) tell the story of the game.
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+): Pastrnak has been on fire since he re-joined the Bruins, rattling off 14 points in 9 games, including two hat tricks. He scored 34 seconds into this game off a beautiful defensive play by Patrice Bergeron and a heads-up pass by Brad Marchand. Just a glance at the stats tells us, Pasta played a perfect 60 minutes. Three of his four total shots on goal counted towards the Bruins’ 7-3 victory. He also added a plus 4 rating in 18 minutes of play.
Brad Marchand (A): Pastrnak’s linemate, Brad Marchand, redeemed himself after a rough Devils’ outing. Marchand assisted two of Pastrnak’s goals and was a menace on the ice. He recorded two hits and a block, and with the help of his linemates, only allowed one shot on goal for the entire game during 5v5 play. Ironically, Marchand did not record a shot on goal.
Patrice Bergeron (A): Bergeron is the A student of the team game in and game out, and last night was no different. The captain helped his team in ways he’s been awarded a record-tying four times. Just shortly before Marchand slid the game’s first goal over to Pastrnak, Bergeron made an incredible defensive play that he makes look routine. This was Patrice’s only assist of the game in his 15 minutes on ice. He also hustled back to stifle a Flyers’ 2 on 1, knocking the puck off of Kevin Hayes’ stick.
Charlie McAvoy (A-): McAvoy has quietly been the Bruins’ MVP this year. He logged the most time on ice (23:59) and scored his second goal of the year, which broke the 2-2 tie. His goal was the flashiest part of his night, and he was arguably the best stick handler last night and smoothest skater. He evaded the Flyers on countless rushes, both exiting the defensive zone and through the neutral zone. He had one down moment, which brought his score from an A to an A-, when he broke his stick on a slapshot and raced back to an eventual Flyer goal, leaving Sean Couturier alone back door.
John Moore & Connor Clifton (B+): Grading these two a B+ and keeping them out of the A range was difficult. They both had great games filling in for their injured counterparts. Clifton and Moore played the third and fourth most minutes (respectively) among the Bruins’ players. Moore is one of the only left-handed defensemen left on the roster and logged 22:39 time on ice and assisted Nick Ritchie’s powerplay goal. He added an even-strength assist on Trent Frederic’s first NHL career goal.
Connor Clifton logged 23:06 minutes and added his first and second assists on the year. He was a plus 3 and lead the team in blocks with 4. He and Moore were second and third on the team in shot attempts against, and weren’t perfect in their defensive zone. As their playing time increases, they could jump into the A range in no time if they use last night’s performance as a blueprint.
Tuukka Rask (B+): Rask didn’t get tested all too much, stopping 16 of 19 total shots. He kept the Bruins in the game when they needed him (first period) and sustained the few attempts the Flyers made throughout the rest of the game. The Flyers scored their third goal off a Bruins’ defender’s foot when the game was already out of reach.
Nick Ritchie (B+): A year ago today, giving Ritchie a B+ would have been generous. As we stand today, he’s certainly earned it. He continues his comeback tour showing everyone why Don Sweeney traded for him. Ritchie’s goal came on the powerplay from a John Moore shot, in which Ritchie tipped in front of Brian Elliott. Ritchie has taken over Milan Lucic’s role on the powerplay, parked in front of the goalie for screening purposes. Ritchie also assisted Pastrnak’s second goal of the game, bringing his point total to 13 points in 16 games.
Charlie Coyle (B): Coyle centered the second line while David Krejci deals with an injury. This game was fruitful for Coyle because his line situation gave us a glimpse of what could be in a year, scoring his third goal of the season, his first in 11 games. The puck took a funny bounce going into the net. Thankfully when talking about goals, we don’t ask how, but instead, how many? Coyle was second in time on ice amongst the forwards, playing 17 minutes and 52 seconds.
Jack Studnicka (B): Studnicka returned to the lineup due to Krejci’s aforementioned injury and made a case to Head Coach Bruce Cassidy to stay. Studnicka is a natural center but has played on the wing during his time with Boston. He was awarded Coyle’s center position on the third line, flanked by Anders Bjork and Jake DeBrusk. He was 5/10 at the face-off dot, which is respectable considering he was squaring up against Nolan Patrick for much of the night. Studnicka made a slick pass to Pastrnak for his only assist of the game. It’s unclear how long Krejci will remain sidelined, but Studnicka is making it more difficult to send down to Providence.
Trent Frederic (B): Congratulations to Trent Frederic on his first NHL career goal. Frederic has had some terrific games this year but hadn’t found the back of the net. What a stage to do it, with Lake Tahoe as the back drop. Frederic fired two shots on goal in his 14 minutes of time on ice. He has floated around the lineup for most of the year and can hopefully continue scoring as he settles in with one line.
Craig Smith (B): This was the type of game the Bruins sought after Smith for in the off-season. Smith had two assists on the night and allowed just 13 shot attempts in 14 minutes of play. He anchored the second line along with Trent Frederic and was the primary assist on his first goal. He did all of the little things right in this game and provided stability when the Bruins needed it most.
Brandon Carlo (B-): Carlo was awarded the “A” on his sweater while Krejci recovers. He logged 21 minutes of ice time, which is his second-highest total of the year. He did record a two-minute minor penalty, which led to a Flyer goal. He led the team in hits (four) and recorded a single block. It was a pretty uneventful game for Carlo.
Urho Vaakanainen (B-): Urho’s grade changed drastically during the game. In the beginning, he was on the ice for the Flyers’ second goal. Both Urho and McAvoy were unable to set a perimeter out in front of Rask and allowed Couturier to bury a back door chance. From then on, however, Vaakanainen played an incredible game. He recorded his first NHL assist off of Pastrnak’s second goal of the game. For the first time since November 2019, Vaak logged 23 minutes on ice, which ranked second amongst the entire team. Cassidy clearly had confidence in him to play alongside McAvoy for the majority of the game. Another great moment for Vaak was at the end of the game; Bergeron pulled him aside to give him (what looked like) some congratulatory words.
Jake DeBrusk (C+): DeBrusk was largely invisible in this game. He did not record a point and only played 14 minutes during the game. He recorded four shots on goal and reappeared on a few shifts, but it wasn’t consistent enough. His 90’s outfit was one of the only similarities he had with his teammates in this game.
Sean Kuraly (C): Kuraly centered the fourth line with Anders Bjork and Chris Wagner. The threesome never seemed to get into a rhythm and was the only line that recorded a total minus for the game. Kuraly’s best moment of the game came on the penalty kill when he terrorized the Flyers in their own zone and gave Frederic a sweet pass out front that Elliott stopped.
Chris Wagner (C): Wagner played a similar game to Kuraly, largely uneventful. The bruiser only recorded two hits and one block all game in 13 minutes of play. The fourth line needs some more time to get used to each other, and thankfully, the Bruins didn’t need all four lines to contribute last night.
Anders Bjork (C-): Bjork had the worst game of all the Bruins last night. He finished with zero points, a minus 1 rating, and four penalty minutes. Bjork’s had flashes of the player he can be going forward, though this is a game he’ll want to forget.
Jeremy Lauzon (Inc.): Lauzon played his first and only shift of the game before exiting due to an injury. The Bruins had to play short-handed on the defensive end, which thankfully didn’t haunt them. Lauzon adds to an already long list of injured Bruins’ defensemen. It has been ruled an upper-body injury, and no more information on the injury has come out.
Moment Of The Night
There were plenty of moments that can be deemed “moment of the night,” from Pastrnak’s hat trick to Frederic’s first goal. To go off the cuff, the moment of the night didn’t come from the game itself but rather the scene of where the game took place. Lake Tahoe’s views were breathtaking, and NHL fans hope more outdoor games can be had and are as gorgeous as last night’s.