We learned not long before gametime that Charlie McAvoy would be out with an upper-body injury... so, instead of returning from injury In a more favorable - and traditional - spot in the lineup, Kevan Miller became Boston’s first-pair right side defenseman with very little notice. (Yeah, he probably knew earlier, but WE didn’t.)
Fortunately, the early going was quite fast, lending itself well to the skating skill of Miller and Matt Grzelcyk - and, with the McAvoy injury, Steve Kampfer stayed in the lineup as well. All of them move well and could help manage and counter the Flyers’ attack.
Jeremy Swayman’s debut started off strong, facing a single shot through the first five minutes, but he looked as advertised as a solid puck tracker. It was apparent through the course of play that he is agile and quick with reactions to improve position and sight lines.
Before the halfway point, the B’s top line managed to cycle on the Flyers, and Brad Marchand ended up one-on-one with Justin Braun near the blue line. With Patrice Bergeron patrolling the net front, Marchand cut back on Braun and fired a low, hard shot on Carter Hart. Bergeron made no mistake, sweeping the rebound wide and around Hart’s left leg to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead, and himself his 900th career point!
Matt Grzelcyk, the least nervewracking defenseman playing in this game (for Boston, anyways), took a penalty just past the halfway point, and Swayman received a little work, but once again impressed with a great glove snag off a deflected shot. To their credit, though, Boston’s defense definitely got the memo of ‘don’t screw the kid’ and were protecting the slot at all costs.
Boston received a power play of their own with just over three minutes to go in the first, and the top Boston unit looked a little tentative. Gryz had a soft shot blocked by Scott Laughton, who took it the full length to Swayman’s doorstep, where he made a great save. The momentum immediately swung back at Philly, where the Perfection trio set up the triangle and centered the puck to Bergeron in the slot, where he fired home his second of the game.
For me, it's the way you can hear the announcer's heart break in two pic.twitter.com/egTUEBvVX3— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) April 6, 2021
The Flyers - Travis Konecny in particular - started to show frustration, and with under two minutes left tried to get under Boston’s skin. It worked to a certain extent as pleasantries were exchanged while the teams filed off to the locker rooms.
Jakub Zboril is doing his best to not get traded, as he imploded upon receiving a harmless pass from David Krejci. The turnover was too good to pass up for the Flyers and Jake Voracek capitalized off the pass from Konecny to make it 2-1 verrrry early in the second.
Barely a minute later and the Flyers tied things up, after more defensive lapses by the Bruins.
Ghost, 2-2 game. Sick feed by Voracek pic.twitter.com/io4zcyOSh6— Brandon Murphy (@2Murphy8) April 7, 2021
The B’s clearly were not ready for the reaction from the Flyers, as the rest of the period pretty much looked the same. Except for a solid chance by Pastrnak in close on Hart, which he saved, there was not much to report. The fourth line for the B’s didn’t see much ice time after the second goal, which saw them stuck in the defensive zone for a nearly two-minute shift.
On their next shift, following a heavy hit on Craig Smith by James van Riemsdyk, Trent Frederic hopped on the ice and went straight for JvR to challenge him, only to take the roughing penalty. After the irritation at the end of last night’s game, this was only a matter of time. Philly had taken the lead in the mental game and had brought the game back to even, and Boston didn’t have much of an answer in the second.
This frame ended tied at 2 goals apiece, and things could have looked a lot worse if
Tuukka Rask Jeremy Swayman hadn’t had the rest covered from the crease, with 25 saves in the period.
A choppy start to play in this period, as some offsides and a missed delay of game call stopped play, but fortunately didn’t give Boston a penalty to kill. Boston showed a bit more bite in the neutral zone off the hop. A bit more pugilism after whistles, but both teams wanted to keep things at even strength so it was pretty limited.
Kevan Miller took a tripping call, despite the puck being in his opponent’s vicinity. It was more of a knee-on-knee from behind collision, which spun out the Flyers player dramatically (though, yes, that’s a penalty).
Fortunately, the all-time Bruins shorthanded goal scorer is still on the active roster! Jeremy Lauzon carried an intercepted pass onto a 2-on-1, and Marchand was available for the pass. When he received it, he made a quality stickhandle to open up Hart’s five hole and slid the puck through.
Again, Kevan Miller got tangled with a Flyer, this time more or less intentionally on both parts. Miller handed out a crosscheck, and Konecny retaliated with a strong shinpad stick swing at Miller. Matching minors put an already increasingly-fast game into overdrive, and it started to feel like some bubble was going to pop before this game ended.
And then, the referees stuck a preemptive fork in the game on Boston’s behalf. A weak roughing call on Sam Morin for hitting Frederic against the boards at mid-rink looked like it could have been a little awkward, but not a charge, or boarding, or a direct hit to the head - MAYBE a hold, but barely. Nevertheless, Boston managed to pass their way out of a scoring opportunity and there was life left in the game for Philly, to the tune of four minutes and change.
After a timeout, Philly pulled Hart with just under two minutes to play, and Philly was able to pin the puck into the B’s zone... with Boston’s help, of course, because Miller and Lauzon were able to play kick-pass among a bunch of Flyers digging at the puck along the boards. After some scary attempted clears by Chris Wagner, Marchand took a chip from Miller and was able to feed the captain at center ice for the shot at the open net. He did not miss.
Final, 4-2 Bruins!
Congratulations to Jeremy Swayman in his first career start and win, in what was an impressively complex test for the greenhorn. He’s received a barrage of an introduction to the NHL and here’s SCoC’s best wishes for a long and successful career!