It looked like Brad Marchand might be down and out after taking a check to the head in the first period from Ivan Provorov, but instead, the Bruins left winger appeared to get angry and use that to his advantage in the second period. Marchand set up David Pastrnak’s goal with a clever pass after gaining control of the face-off in the offensive zone, and then Marchand himself scored to cap things off after taking in a high-to-low pass from Charlie McAvoy. Marchand finished with a goal and two points, a plus-2 rating, three shot attempts, two hits and three takeaways in a pretty full afternoon that started with bouncing back from a punishing high hit early in the game. That’s the kind of toughness that wins games and makes players into leaders out on the ice.
Shayne Gostisbehere used to be the “it” defenseman for the Flyers a couple of years ago as a high-flying rookie and he's actually been pretty good for them this season. But the Flyers blueliner had a disappointing effort against the Bruins on Saturday. Sure Ghost played 24:35 of ice time and he managed to get out of the game without being on the ice for any goals against, but he also played some very undisciplined, selfish hockey at times. It was Gostisbehere that took an ill-advised cross-check on Marchand while the Flyers were on the power play and completely wiped out their man-advantage opportunity. He also missed the net with seven of his 10 shot attempts while sticking mostly to the perimeter with his offensive forays.
The Bruins were actually outshot 10-8 in the second period, and it looked like the Flyers might be crawling back into the game when they appeared to score a last-minute, power-play goal at the end of the period. But Wayne Simmonds and his elbow made contact with Tuukka Rask’s helmet as the Claude Giroux shot made it to the net and the officials upheld a Bruins coach’s challenge for goalie interference after reviewing the video. That wiped the goal off the board and pretty much took all the wind out of their sails at a time when the Flyers really needed a break. It was game over once that was all done.
The Bruins were actually outshot 20-12 in the final two periods but it didn’t matter because their defense was working quite well in tandem with a comfortable, confident Rask. The Bruins goalie was aided by a coach’s challenge at the end of the second period, but also played a very strong game while stopping all 28 shots he faced. There weren’t many spectacular saves in the strong defensive performance, but Rask kept things quiet and harmless while controlling the rebounds and playing his angles perfectly. It was appropriate that it turned out to be Rask’s first shutout of the season and his second win in a row to improve to 5-8-2 on the season.
BY THE NUMBERS
1 – the first goal of the season for Ryan Spooner kicked things off in the first period as he used his speed to separate from the defense and put a couple of filthy moves on Brian Elliott before easily scoring.
QUOTE TO NOTE
“I think I’m probably watching too much Game of Thrones.” –A smiling David Pastrnak, when asked about the sheathing the sword goal celebration after scoring his 13th in the second period.
Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while trying to figure out when exactly I’m going to be able to go see the new Star Wars movie.
*The New York Islanders were crying in their beer over the fact that Brad Marchand side-stepped a suspension and claimed it was because John Tavares didn’t writhe around, kick and scream on the ice like a soccer player. The truth is the play wasn’t the kind of thing that’s going to injure a player under normal circumstances but was clearly a late, uncalled for hit. That’s why it got the five-minute major penalty and nothing more. Threatening to give an award-winning acting performance next time in order to try and get a suspension for an opposing player just sounds like crybaby soup from the Isles. Buckle the chin strap and get ready to play a contact sport next time, particularly if you’re Tavares, who was hacking at Charlie McAvoy’s legs with your stick like you’re Paul Bunyan chopping at a piece of wood. It works both ways, you know?
*The Winnipeg Jets continue to be one of the excellent, unsung stories of the NHL’s first half as they really take hold at the top of the Western Conference.
*Here’s a good piece on Jonathan Quick and what his good health has meant to a resurgent Los Angeles Kings team this season.
*Former Boston College standout goalie Thatcher Demko is way ahead of schedule in the Vancouver Canucks organization, but they’re not looking to rush him.
*Here’s a great video of a youngster playing the Star-Spangled Banner on the violin prior to a New York Rangers game at Madison Square Garden. Well done, young lady!
*Pro Hockey Talk as the details of the Ducks and Red Wings getting into a fight on Monday night ahead of the Bruins traveling to Hockeytown for a Wednesday night showdown.
*For something completely different: A list of the 10 actors who could replace Ben Affleck as Batman now that DC has given up the charade that they’re not intending to replace him underneath the cowl.
BRIGHTON, Mass – Ryan Spooner has practiced in each of the past two days, but his status is still in question for the back-to-back Bruins games against the Red Wings and Capitals over the next couple of days.
Spooner has missed the past couple of games with a lower-body injury after playing in the previous five contests following a month-long layoff with a groin injury. The current injury is believed to be similar in nature to the original groin problem and that’s the reason the Bruins are treating it cautiously as they approach Wednesday night’s game in Detroit.
“He’s practicing fully with the team, and the long and short of it is that he’s still day-to-day. We’ll decide [on Wednesday] but we just want to keep moving forward with him,” said Bruce Cassidy, who also mentioned that Kevan Miller was missing from practice to be with his wife for the birth of their child. “We’ve had a couple of stops and starts with him, so we’re going to manage it to the best of our ability so we’re moving forward [in his recovery]. He’ll travel with the team, and if we decide that he’s in the lineup [vs. the Red Wings] then Donnie [Sweeney] and I will talk about how that’s going to affect our roster.”
Spooner has played 10 games this season, with a goal and four points in the intermittent action. It’s too bad as Spooner has been pretty good when healthy and has played with speed and a higher level of competitiveness this season when he’s actually suited up.
The problem with Spooner’s return at this point, however, is that the Bruins have a third line of Danton Heinen, Riley Nash and David Backes that’s been gaining traction in recent days and had a monster game vs. Arizona last week. A return from injured reserve for Spooner would mean that the Bruins finally have to make a tough roster choice. Either put a player such as Frank Vatrano on waivers or send a young player such as Sean Kuraly down who deserves to stay based on his performance.
With Spooner’s status in question for the next two games, here are the line combos and D-pairings from Tuesday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena with Tuukka Rask set to get the start Wednesday night in Detroit: