By: Joe Todd | Follow me on Twitter @heyjoetodd
Bruins won in a nail biter of a game at TD Garden, defeating the Philadelphia Flyers 3 – 2. Pastrnak would score all three goals for the Bruins, with two coming on the powerplay. The Bruins are now 7 – 1 in the new year, with Cassidy’s line changes continuing to pay dividends for the team. Oh…and Tuukka Rask made his eagerly anticipated debut after returning from hip surgery. How could I forget…
Retuurn of the KKing
Tuukka Rask had issues playing the puck tonight, but when it came to stopping pucks he looked square and in position. He looked calm and in control on the breakaway against Farabee in the second, and even better on Atkinson’s shorthanded breakaway. The gameplay for the Flyers tonight appeared to be to get in his face and limit his vision. Atkinson did just that in front of the net, deflecting Provorov’s shot under the glove on the powerplay. The other goal allowed resulted from a missed hit from McAvoy with the Flyers entering the defensive zone and a breakdown on the resulting two on one. Rask stopped everything he COULD stop, and played an excellent first game back from hip surgery. Even during a five on three late in the third, Rask maintained his composure at a pivotal point in the game.
With Grzelyck joining Clifton and Forbort in COVID protocol, and Moore out with an upper body injury, the Bruins defense featured Providence mainstays in Jack Ahcan, Tyler Lewington, and Urho Vaakananainen. You love to see Lewington stick up for his teammates when Laughton made a run against Hall. Even better to see him answer the bell and fight MacEwen, someone a bit out of Lewington’s weight class. But I did NOT love seeing Lewington wear #55. That number is reserved for Johnny Boychuk only.
Jack Ahcan made some nice passes during his brief powerplay time. He is a shifty player that can make quick snap passes and shots on net. He made a nice rush towards goal in the second where he got the puck at the point and dove towards the net. After McAvoy’s giveaway resulted in Atkinson’s short-handed breakaway, Cassidy went to Ahcan to play with the first powerplay unit for the remaining 55 seconds. Nice to see the coach trust the young guys in these situations.
Vaakanainen played 23:17 on the first pair alongside Charlie McAvoy. He appeared to get bullied a bit more tonight, being outmatched by a more physical Flyers lineup. On the second Flyers goal, he awkwardly dove towards Farabee to defend a two on one. As he flew by him, Vaakanainen was unable to get back into position to stop Farabee from potting the loose puck. Despite the mistake, he still had a very good game, and was even tasked with defending when the Flyers net was empty. He just missed out on his fourth straight game with an assist in the final seconds after clearing the puck out to Marchand.
Fourth line continues to impress
The fourth line of Blidh – Nosek – Lazar continued their excellent play since being put together. They continue to cause trouble in the offensive zone and get consistent pressure and scoring chances. Anton Blidh drew another penalty resulting in the first powerplay of the game. Lazar is playing the best hockey of his career. He really seems to have his legs under him after having some consistent injury trouble this year. Lazar is making a handful of nice plays with the puck on his stick, but is actively getting under defenseman’s sticks to get the puck back. Finally, Nosek’s playmaking has led to numerous scoring chances, and he’s not shy of the rough stuff mixing it up with Yandle in the second. Cassidy has some tough roster decisions to make when Foligno AND Frederic return.
Todd’s and Ends
Pastrnak with the second bruins hat-trick in as many games, after Marchand made it rain on Wednesday. I wonder how many hats the Pro Shop at the Garden has sold these past couple nights?
ESPN needs to get rid of what I will call “The Ceiling Cam”. Pastrnak’s first goal was scored while the camera crew decided to use the feed from the camera taped to the ceiling. I’d call it the Nosebleed cam, but that would be disrespectful to the fine fans up top.
Flyers pulled the goalie with just under four minutes left in the game, and the Bruins did NOT score on the empty net. Breathe easy Bruins fans, the game was won.
What did everyone think of Rask return? Who stuck out to you tonight? Let’s hear your takes on the game that was.