Bruins: Philadelphia Flyers

Observations: Flyers 5, Bruins 2

April, 23, 2013

Just when it appeared the Boston Bruins were starting to find their game after three solid performances and a 3-0 win Sunday, they fell apart again. Boston allowed two goals in seven seconds to fall behind 3-1 midway through the second period and never recovered, losing 5-2 to the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center.

BruinsFlyersMatt Read and Oliver Lauridsen netted those quick strikes to as the Flyers broke open a 1-1 game. Scott Hartnell, Jakub Voracek and Simon Gagne also scored for the Flyers, who got 39 saves from Steve Mason.

Wade Redden and David Krejci scored for the Bruins, but it wasn't enough as they fell to 1-4-1 in their last six games and failed to gain ground on the Canadiens, who also lost Tuesday.

Bruins unravel too easily again: Too many times this season, the Bruins haven't been able to recover from mental lapses and bad breaks. That was the case in this game as the Bruins allowed those two goals in seven seconds midway through the second period. There was still 7:06 left in the middle frame, but they seemed to stop creating their own chances after that. From that point on the Bruins appeared to play in a daze, reverting to the funk that's plagued them all too frequently over the past month. Turnovers are also killing this team; again, it seemed to be the ongoing case of lazy play. If the Bruins don't find their game soon, they're going to be one round and out in the playoffs.

[+] EnlargeBruins
Len Redkoles/Getty ImagesDavid Krejci and the Bruins seemed to be chasing the puck in vain all game long.
Khudobin and Rask victims of teamwide collapse: Anton Khudobin got the hook following the two quick strikes by the Flyers in the second period. He was later put back into the game late in the third period after Tuukka Rask allowed two goals and the Flyers went up 5-2. While Rask and Khudobin weren't great, they can't be completely blamed. On the third Flyers goal, Zdeno Chara made an errant pass off his goaltender and the puck went in the net. The Bruins were turning the puck over way too much in front of their own net, and not many goalies could've saved the day there.

Power play: Once again the Bruins' power play failed to give them a boost they desperately needed. Following the quick two goals by the Flyers, Carl Soderberg was called for high-sticking, but after that the Bruins were the beneficiaries of three straight power plays and had chances to get right back into the game. While they've proven in the past that they can win without a strong power play, this was once again a time when it could've made a huge difference in potentially regaining the momentum.

Campbell sacrifices: Many questioned Bruins coach Claude Julien for putting Gregory Campbell up on the top two lines recently when the coach had to shuffle his lines due to injuries and lackluster play from his big guns. Campbell did respond with a stretch of two goals and three assists in three games, and you can't question Campbell's dedication and desire to win. That was on full display in the first period when Campbell slid in front of a blistering shot by Flyers defenseman Kurtis Foster. Campbell shook it off and came back to play his customary two-way game.

McQuaid returns: After missing one game with a lower body injury suffered in the 3-2 loss to the Penguins on Saturday, defenseman Adam McQuaid was back on the Boston blue line. That meant Johnny Boychuk was a healthy scratch. Up front things stayed the same for the Bruins. Here's what the lineup looked like to start the game:

Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Rich Peverley
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Tyler Seguin
Chris Kelly-Carl Soderberg-Jaromir Jagr
Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton

Zdeno Chara-Dougie Hamilton
Wade Redden-Dennis Seidenberg
Andrew Ference-Adam McQuaid

Anton Khudobin
Tuukka Rask

For numerous reasons, the NHL's trade deadline can't come fast enough for the Boston Bruins.

There seems to be a sense of nervousness with the Bruins, and even coach Claude Julien admitted recently he could feel a tense environment with the team. It didn't help when star-studded forward Jarome Iginla, this year's biggest trade chip, decided to waive his no-movement clause and join the Pittsburgh Penguins instead of the Bruins.

BruinsFlyersBefore April 3, Boston general manager Peter Chiarelli needs to make additions to this current roster. The Bruins need a spark. They can't continue to play like they did on Saturday, losing to a struggling Philadelphia Flyers team, 3-1 at Wells Fargo Center.

The Bruins entered the game with a 9-1-1 record in the last 11 games versus the Flyers, but Boston could not generate any sustained offense against Philadelphia and were sluggish for the first 40 minutes. The Bruins played better in the third period but it was too late.

"Another one of those nights where you're not able to sustain anything," coach Claude Julien said. "Whether we had a better start even though we had fallen behind 1-0, I thought we were moving the puck quick and we had some jump. But we allow a power play goal and fall behind."

The Bruins lacked desire and failed to gain control of the Northeast Division. With the loss, Boston's fifth in the last seven games, the Bruins sit in second place with 46 points. The Montreal Canadiens have 47 points and host the New York Rangers tonight at Bell Centre.

The Bruins missed an early opportunity when they couldn't convert on their first power play of the game, less than a minute in against the Flyers.

Philadelphia, however, has the best power play in the league and proved it again when the Flyers took a 1-0 lead at 15:19 as Mike Knuble provided his fourth goal of the season. It was the fifth consecutive power-play goal for Philadelphia. Overall, the Flyers have capitalized on 32 of 129 chances while on the man-advantage.

Philadelphia gained a two-goal lead when the Flyers' Matt Read scored at 3:18 of the second period. The Bruins did not respond in any aspect of the game for the rest of the period.

Whatever Julien said to his players during the second intermission worked because the Bruins showed a little bit of life at the start of the third. Nathan Horton cut Boston's deficit to one goal when he pumped in a rebound at the five-minute mark. That's all the Bruins could muster and Philadelphia added an empty-net goal with 58.4 seconds remaining in regulation for a 3-1 final.

"Yeah, we had our chances," Horton said. "I think we were working hard but just couldn't buy a goal and maybe [we were] gripping our sticks a little too much. Once they got the lead they were playing back. Like I said, we had our chances, though."

Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov finished with 33 saves. The Bruins' Tuukka Rask made 19 saves.

The Bruins need to find their identity and soon.

"You get some spurts where you're seeing some good things but then the next line going up can't follow up," Julien said. "So we are not able to sustain much right now. The biggest challenge is every game we have one line that's scoring and the other three don't do a thing. Then it's a different line another game and then the other three don't do it. We can't win hockey games with just relying on one line per night producing for us.

"It's not always the same line it's a different line. There's definitely some catching up to do. I thought the second period was probably the most disorganized or erratic from our end of it. Guys fanning on one timers, bobbling pucks, and just guys squeezing their sticks. We have to relax a little bit but we also have to wake up and start playing Bruins hockey because that's not what we are playing right now."

BOYCHUK BACK: After missing three games with a foot injury, Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk was back in the lineup. He was hit on the foot by a puck during practice on March 25 in Ottawa and was placed on injury reserve last Wednesday. He practiced on Friday and showed no ill effects.

"I feel pretty good," he told NESN's Naoko Funayama during the first intermission.

As a result of Boychuk's return, fellow defenseman Matt Bartkowski was a healthy scratch.

KRUG ASSIGNED: On Friday, the Bruins assigned defenseman Torey Krug to Providence of the AHL. The 21-year-old prospect was recalled Wednesday afternoon after the Bruins thought they had a trade in place for Iginla and scratched Bartkowski. Krug logged a total of 15:47 of ice time and registered an assist against the Montreal Canadiens. It was his third NHL game since the Bruins signed him a year ago after he finished his collegiate career at Michigan State University.

UP NEXT: It's a quick turnaround for the Bruins. They leave Philly and travel to Buffalo where the Sabres will host Boston at 7:30 p.m. Sunday night.

Business as usual for Rask against Flyers

March, 9, 2013
BOSTON -- Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien called it “fishing” for an angle when asked about goaltender Tuukka Rask's first game against the Philadelphia Flyers since the devastating collapse in the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs.

[+] EnlargeTuukka Rask
AP Photo/Cal Sport Media/Anthony NesmithTuukka Rask stopped all 23 shots he saw, crediting his defense for helping keep the Flyers in check.
It was the Eastern Conference semifinals, and Boston gained a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series with Rask as the team’s starting goaltender. Philadelphia, however, won the next four games -- including rallying from a 3-0 Game 7 deficit -- en route to a series victory.

Then-Bruins goalie Tim Thomas struggled with a hip injury late that season, so Boston relied on Rask in the playoffs. The young goaltender outdueled the Buffalo Sabres’ Ryan Miller in the first round before the Bruins faced the Flyers.

With Rask in net, Boston won the first three games by the scores of 5-4 (OT), 3-2 and 4-1 before the team imploded and lost the next four games. Rask was tired and couldn't steal one of those four games, in which he gave up a total of 15 goals (a 3.75 goals-against average).

In 2011, the Bruins had their revenge and swept the Flyers in four games in the second round of the playoffs with Thomas in net. Including those games and eight regular-season matchups, Rask has had to watch a total 12 games against the Flyers from the bench.

Until Saturday.

Rask posted his second shutout of the season with 23 saves to help Boston to a 3-0 win over the Flyers at TD Garden. After the game, he said the 2010 collapse did not serve as any motivation.

“It’s in the past,” Rask said. “As I’ve said before, we won the whole thing the year after. Things happen in hockey, and for a goalie, if you start thinking that certain matchups are better for you than others, you’ve lost half the battle. It was just a game, like any other.

“I won three games in that playoff series, too, but too bad I just lost the last four. It’s hockey. Things happen in hockey. That year, it was Philly. It happens.”

It really isn’t about just one game against the Flyers. Rask has had to prove that he can handle the workload as a true No. 1 now that Thomas is a thing of the past in Boston. Rask has been outstanding this season, posting a 12-2-3 record with a 1.97 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage. The shutout was the 13th of his career.

The Bruins are two games shy of the halfway point of this lockout-shortened, 48-game season, and Rask’s play has helped Boston become one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.

“I feel good,” Rask said. “Taking the last game [against Toronto] off, it was good to get a little rest, but I’ve felt good throughout these games. It’s going to get busier and busier, so I think it’s really good to keep both goalies going.”

Rask didn’t have to be at his best on Saturday because the defense in front of him was great. When the final buzzer sounds, and your team’s goalie finished with a shutout, it’s an indication of the overall defensive play.

“Really good, the best so far this year,” he said. “We did a great job.”

Rask said he could see every shot and could make the save cleanly or control the rebound. Philadelphia didn’t create many quality scoring chances, but when they did, Rask was ready. In the third period, the Flyers had 11 shots, and despite seeing only 12 in the first two periods, Rask was sharp in the final 20 minutes.

“It’s never easy, but whenever you don’t see that much traffic, or that many shots in the game, it’s kind of mentally tougher to stay sharp,” Rask said. “But when they got those shots, I felt pretty comfortable.”

Bruins forward Tyler Seguin saved a shutout for Rask -- literally -- in the waning minutes of regulation. The Bruins were on a power play when the Flyers created a short-handed opportunity. Rask came out of the net to charge a loose puck, but Philadelphia gained control and shot at the open net. Seguin sprawled out on the ice to make the save and preserve the shutout.

“That was Tyler? I thought it was Dougie [Hamilton]. OK, it was great, great,” Rask said with a laugh. “He was telling me he would have caught the guy when I sprinted out of the net. It’s good to see he’s got my back and he’s got those goalie skills, too. It’s good to see. You’ve got to keep it exciting, right?”

If there were any doubts about Rask as the No. 1 goaltender in Boston, he’s erased those so far this season. There are still 26 games remaining, including what should be a deep run into the postseason for the Bruins.

It won't be his shutout performance against the Flyers on Saturday that will stand out but his entire body of work in 2013. With Rask, it really is about the present and not the past.

The same goes for the defense that protects him.

“I don’t know if I can say, ‘back on track’ until I see it on a consistent basis,” Julien said of his team’s defense. “Today was probably the first day I felt much better about our game without the puck in our defensive zone. We didn’t give them much; they didn’t have a ton of scoring chances, but obviously we've got two tough games [coming up] with Ottawa and Pittsburgh on the road, and we’ll need that kind of game to win those.”

Rapid Reaction: Bruins 3, Flyers 0

March, 9, 2013

BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins scored three goals within a 2:18 span in the first period, an advantage that proved to be more than enough in a 3-0 shutout victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday at TD Garden.

BruinsFlyersOn Tuesday, the Bruins had a 3-0 lead against the Washington Capitals and eventually lost 4-3 in overtime at Verizon Center. They didn’t have the same problems holding that lead Saturday in the first of three games against the Flyers this season, Tuukka Rask making 23 saves to improve his record to 12-2-3. It was his second shutout of the season and the first time since the epic 2010 playoff collapse that he faced the Flyers.

The Bruins got goals from Tyler Seguin, Chris Kelly and Daniel Paille.

The Bruins started off slugging, taking nearly 11 minutes before they registering their first shot on net. Boston gained its first power play of the game at 11:12 of the opening period and the Bruins capitalized on their man-advantage.

The Bruins’ Milan Lucic made a sweet, no-look, backhand pass through the crease and found Seguin waiting on the off-post to give Boston a 1-0 lead at 11:53. It was Seguin’s eighth goal of the season.

That goal energized the Bruins and they finished the period strong with another two goals.

Bruins forward Jordan Caron, who was recalled from Providence on Friday and made his seasonal debut against the Flyers, was playing on the Bruins’ third line with Rich Peverley and Kelly. That line created sustained pressure in the offensive zone when Peverley made a pass to Caron, breaking to the net. He missed the pass at first but recovered the puck in the corner and fed Kelly, who was camped out in the slot to give Boston a 2-0 lead at 13:28 of the first.

Less than a minute later, the Bruins added to their lead when Paille notched his fourth goal of the season at 14:11 to give Boston a 3-0 advantage.

With the win, the Bruins improve to 16-3-3 for 35 points.

* SAVE OF THE GAME: Belongs to Seguin, not Rask. With the Bruins on the power play in the waning minutes of regulation, the Flyers had a short-handed opportunity when Rask came out of the net to charge a loose puck. Philadelphia gained control and shot at the open net, but Seguin sprawled out to make the save and preserve the shutout.

* SCARY MOMENT: In the middle of the second period, Bruins centerman David Krejci suffered what appeared to be an upper-body injury. He was in obvious pain, dropping his stick and quickly skating off the ice. A team doctor and trainers tended to Krejci down the runway behind the Bruins’ bench. Gregory Campbell replaced Krejci for one shift before he was able to return. Krejci finished the period and missed the first five minutes of the third period but finished the game.

* ABOUT TIME: Ever since the Bruins selected Caron in the first round (25th overall) of the 2009 NHL draft, the organization has been waiting for him to make an impact at the NHL level. The 22-year-old forward has shown glimpses in his previous 71 career games for the Bruins, but he hasn’t been consistent enough to stick in Boston. Prior to his recall from Providence on Friday, he’s spent the entire season in the AHL. Bruins coach Claude Julien said Caron would be a game-time decision, but once he was given the opportunity, he played well.

* DROP ‘EM: With Boston holding a 3-0 led in the second period, the Flyers’ Zac Rinaldo demolished defenseman Johnny Boychuk with a clean body check. Teammate Shawn Thornton jumped in and dropped the gloves with Rinaldo. Thornton connected on a few good punches before the Flyers’ forward fell to the ice.

* MILESTONE: With his assist on Kelly’s goal in the first period, Peverley registered his 200th career point in the NHL. The Bruins acquired Peverley from the Atlanta Thrashers in exchange for Mark Stuart and Blake Wheeler on Feb. 18, 2011. Peverley then helped Boston win the Stanley Cup later that spring. He registered four goals and eight assists for 12 points in 25 playoffs games in 2011. Overall, Peverley has 74 goals and 126 assists for 200 points in 355 games in the NHL.

* UP NEXT: The Bruins will play their next two games on the road, beginning Monday at Ottawa. Boston will then play the Penguins at Pittsburgh on Tuesday. The Bruins will be back on home ice when they host the Florida Panthers on Thursday night (7:05) at the Garden.