As a team, the Boston Bruins only played one game this week unless you count the All-Star game, and that game was satisfying.
After three straight losses, the Bruins won a 5-2 decision against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Unlike last week, there were plenty of strong candidates to choose from, including A.J. Greer, who sniped top corner to give the Bruins a two-goal lead, but then accepted an ill-advised fight against Wayne Simmonds, who almost caved in his face.
Charlie Coyle had two vital assists, while Pavel Zacha scored two third-period goals in the win.
But the obvious winner in this week’s player of the week is Linus Ullmark.
“Ull” Top Marks
Ullmark’s stat line was impressive, as it almost always is these days. 33 saves on 35 shots meant Ullmark faced a steady stream of work, as he did last week, but the quality of his performance and the importance of the game put him over the top.
After losing three straight, the Bruins finally faced the adversity that almost everyone said they needed to experience.
To overcome that adversity and enter the All-Star break on a positive note, the Bruins had to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs in Toronto.
Not that the Bruins have a hard time beating the Maple Leafs, but this one felt very important.
Ullmark was up to the task, making several incredible saves.
There were many more, and the goals Ullmark surrendered were no fault of his.
The win was Ullmark’s 26th of the season, the most among NHL goalies and two more than Connor Hellebuyck, who is in second place.
But Hellebuyck has a 2.45 goals against average and a .927 save percentage compared to Ullmark’s insane 1.90 goals against and a .937 save percentage.
To say Ullmark is the Vezina Trophy frontrunner right now is an understatement.
Hopefully, he’ll continue that dominance after the All-Star Break.
Honorable Mention: Pavel Zacha
Zacha continued to show that he can be more than just a playmaker.
Zacha’s first goal against Toronto was as impressive as it was devastating for the Leafs. A mere 30 seconds after Toronto narrowed the Bruins’ lead to a goal, Zacha went for a stroll around the offensive zone. By the time Zacha’s shot found the back of the net, Morgan Reilly needed to put his jock back on, and TJ Brodie needed new ankles.
To top it all off, Zacha added another goal three minutes later and put the Leafs away for good.
Adding a player like Zacha to the roster has given the Bruins the depth that has enabled them to play the way they have in the first half of the season.
A team like the Maple Leafs, who are second in the Atlantic behind the Bruins, cannot keep up for 60 minutes. The Leafs might be able to keep it up for a game, but in a seven-game series, good luck.
Having to match up with the top-three Bruins lines, who, thanks to players like Zacha, Hall and DeBrusk, are extremely versatile, the Maple Leafs don’t measure up.
Taylor Hall - 1
Jeremy Swayman - 1
Linus Ullmark - 1