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Player of the Week: A two-horse race

Nine points in four games versus a brick wall.

New York Rangers (2) Vs Boston Bruins (4) At TD Garden Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Just when we thought the Boston Bruins were performing the best they had all season, from the front office to the ice, the team somehow managed to surprise us again.

By the end of the week, the Bruins had completed a sweep of their four-game road trip, in spite of injuries to Taylor Hall and Nick Foligno, only to return home, acquire Tyler Bertuzzi and then win two more games to stretch its winning streak to 10 games.

Oh yeah, let’s not forget they became the fastest team in history to reach 100 points.

But unlike previous weeks, there are only two choices for player of the week, not because anyone played especially poorly, but because these two blew the doors off the rest of the team in terms of how well they played.

We’ve come to expect Linus Ullmark to be nearly unbeatable this season, but what he did to the Calgary Flames was shocking anyway.

Still, he had to compete with newly acquired Dmitry Orlov, who, after going scoreless in his first game (last week against the Vancouver Canucks), messed around and tallied NINE POINTS IN FOUR GAMES, with three of those points being goals.

Somehow, they made it tough on me again, but there still can be only one, and that one is Ullmark.

Making history while making history

In any other week, for any other team, Orlov would probably get the player of the week nod for his performance last week, but he’s on the Bruins for the rest of 2022-23, so that competition will be tough.

Nine points in four games might be a record for a newly acquired Bruins player, but as far as I can tell, no one has figured it out yet. But this is for sure; Ullmark did make history and followed that up with another strong performance for his second win of the week.

When I used the term what Ullmark, “did to the Calgary Flames,” I used it with intention because Ullmark basically handed them a metaphorical anchor while drowning.

You’ve probably heard about it by now, but the Flames, who had lost their previous two games (one in overtime) and were watching their playoff odds shrink by the game, came up against a Boston team on the second game of a back-to-back.

The Flames jumped on the Bruins, peppering Ullmark with an astronomical 57 shots, including overtime to the Bruins’ 20.

Ullmark was otherworldly from the opening puck drop and helped the Bruins build a two-goal lead (thanks to Orlov).

This save came after the Flames scored their first goal of the game and were looking to tie.

Ullmark then made two difficult saves in overtime before Charlie McAvoy’s game-winner.

The Bruins had a historically poor defensive performance and still won, thanks largely to Ullmark (and Orlov). By the way, the Bruins lost that 1965 game to the Detroit Red Wings 8-1.

That was nearly deserving of player of the week by itself, but then Ullmark went and stymied the New York Rangers. Although the Rangers only managed 26 shots, they jumped out to a 10-3 shot advantage at one point in the first period, but thanks to Ullmark, the Bruins went into the intermission leading 1-0. Tomas Nosek’s early shorthanded goal in the second period staked the Bruins to a 2-0 lead and allowed them to suffocate the Rangers.

But it was more than just his on-ice performance against the Rangers. In terms of hype, Saturday’s home battle versus New York was up there. After acquiring enough offensive depth to rival the Bruins on paper with Vladimir Tarasenko and Patrick Kane, it was the first post-trade deadline test of whether a future playoff foe had the horses to run with the Bruins. Thanks to Ullmark, they did not.

Honorable Mention: Dmitry Orlov

Orlov’s performance was close to Ullmark’s equal, and he was honored for it with the NHL’s First Star of the Week nod.

Scoring nine points in four games is impressive for a top-line forward, but it’s downright stunning for a defenseman, let alone a newly acquired one. David Pastrnak has done that once this season.

Nearly all of Orlov’s points have been in meaningful situations. His two goals and one assist against the Calgary Flames were obviously vital in a game the Bruins had no business winning. He was all over the scoresheet scoring at even strength and the power play. He assisted on shorthanded goals, power-play goals, even-strength goals, game-winning goals, game-tying goals, go-ahead goals; you name it.

His first goal against Calgary was especially surprising for those of us who assumed Orlov was more of a defensive defenseman. He might not have looked as graceful as Bobby Orr skating through the neutral zone, but he moved the puck quickly and picked the corner beautifully over Dan Vladar’s blocker.

If that goal didn’t make it obvious, Orlov also has quite the shot. He showcased it on his second goal against the Flames and again when he scored a 4-on-3 goal against the Sabres.

Orlov has impressive offensive sense, which he showed by starting a give-and-go with Lindholm. He faked an attempt on net, pulled back and passed to Lindholm and then backed off to create space before blasting a one-timer from Lindholm past Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen.

If it hadn’t been for Ullmark’s historic performance against the Flames that enabled the Bruins to go 4-0 on the road trip, Orlov would have been a shoo-in for player of the week. Either way, the Bruins are lucky to have both.

Season standings

Connor Clifton - 1

Taylor Hall - 1

Charlie McAvoy - 1

David Pastrnak - 1

Jeremy Swayman - 1

Linus Ullmark - 2