By: Zach Carlone | Follow me on Twitter @zcarlone21
It was Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman who stole the show in Thursday night’s win over the Washington Capitals, making 31 saves on 33 shots en route to a 4-2 victory on the road. Riding the hot hand, it’ll be Swayman in net for the third straight game today against the Philadelphia Flyers. Today’s game is the first of a back-to-back for the Bruins before heading into the NHL Trade Deadline on Monday. The puck drop is scheduled for 2 pm EST.
Smith on Fire
Before the Bruins 3-0-1 record in their last four games, the Bruins offense was nearly non-existent, and head coach Bruce Cassidy shuffled up the forward lines. That meant uniting David Pastrnak with David Krejci and letting right-handed winger Craig Smith get a shot on the top line with the brilliant duo of Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. He’s had no issues playing with two of the most talented players on the roster, and it’s worked wonders. Smith has ten points in his last ten games heading into today’s game.
On the season, Smith has collected 19 points in 36 total games. While he’s only played a handful of games with Bergeron and Marchand and a majority of the season with either Krejci or Charlie Coyle, Smith is finally showing his strides in why the Bruins signed him last offseason. With a goal and an assist against the Capitals last time out, Smith is carrying a ton of momentum into today’s game.
Keep on Swaying
Per head coach Bruce Cassidy, in today’s crease will be Jeremy Swayman. Sunday, the team will turn to Dan Vladar or Tuukka Rask if the latter is ready to return from injury. For Swayman, he has been rock solid in his first few games in the big league, and he’s already had a taste of the Flyers offense in his first NHL start back on April 6th. Coming off of limited rest, it will be up to the Bruins defense to help Swayman secure his third straight win.
The eventual returns of Rask, 34, and Jaroslav Halak (COVID Protocol), 35, have the Bruins raising some questions about the future of their goaltending. Both Dan Vladar and Swayman have played great at the NHL level in their limited debuts, but both have been regulars in the AHL prior to their call-ups. They’ve led the Providence Bruins to a 13-3-1 record thus far this season. The Bruins will ride the hot-hand in Swayman for today’s game, and these batches of games may be a glimpse into the future.
Bottom-Six Wake-Up Call
Despite still holding the fourth place spot in the MassMutual East Division, the Bruins have gotten little contributions from their bottom-six forward group in their recent games. Outside of a lucky bounce-in goal from Anton Blidh on Thursday night, they’ve been extremely quiet. Blidh came in for Frederic, who is dealing with a non-COVID-related illness. Any bottom-six group on any NHL squad knows their role on the team and play to their strengths, but the Bruins group has simply sounded like crickets.
Charlie Coyle, the team’s third-line center, hasn’t scored a goal since February 28th and since then has collected four assists over a span of 17 games. He’s been an extreme disappointment this season, along with line-mate Jake DeBrusk. While being involved in trade rumors leading up to Monday’s trade deadline, DeBrusk has only seven points in 24 games this season. These two and the rest of the Bruins bottom-six need to heat up fast if the team has any hopes of making a deep playoff run. It’s already April.
Bruins Projected Lineup
Marchand – Bergeron – Smith
Ritchie – Krejci – Pastrnak
DeBrusk – Coyle – Kuhlman
Blidh – Kuraly – Wagner
Grzelcyk – Miller
Zboril – Kampfer
Lauzon – Clifton