“No one does unhappy like Philadelphia.”
That quote from the colorful Jack Edwards is an injury to insult for the Flyers and Philly fans, who have now lost 10 straight.
Unlike their loss to the Oilers last weekend that cooled off their momentum following a four-game win streak – capped off by their 4-3 win over the two-time defending Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins – the Bruins kept the momentum going following an impressive 3-2 win over the league-best Lightning.
From start to finish, the Bruins were clearly the better team in a structured 3-0 win over the hapless Flyers. Here is what we learned as the Black and Gold kicked off their two-game, father-son road trip on a high note.
Miller drops the gloves with Simmonds; Spooner gets on the board
For the first 10 minutes, the Flyers were playing like a desperate team looking to build any momentum they could early on. The Bruins matched Philly’s desperation but still needed a little lift.
Both Kevan Miller and Ryan Spooner provided that lift.
First came Miller’s spirited bout with Wayne Simmonds that saw the former Vermont Catamount as the last one standing, but not before a taking few solid jabs. Next came Spooner, who took a great long ice feed from Noel Acciari for a breakaway and made a beautiful deke on Brian Elliott for his first of the season at 14:30.
With a returning David Krejci following a one-game absence, Spooner moved from center to left wing on the second line. Unlike his responsibilities as a bottom-6 center, Spooner got more ice time (14:13) and used his speed and offensive intangibles at wing. This has to give Cassidy something to think about as the Bruins get healthier.
Marchand gets under Flyers’ skin
Getting inside opponents’ heads is one of Brad Marchand’s signature traits. It nearly didn’t happen this time around, however, as Marchand left during the first period after taking a hit to the head from Ivan Povorov.
The hit itself wasn’t necessarily dirty as Marchand tucked his head and Povorov had little chance to deliver the hit in another area, but the Flyers defenseman earned two minutes for high-sticking.
Given Marchand’s season with head injuries, the Hub of Hockey had to be holding their collective breath after he went to the room. They exhaled when Marchand returned for the second period.
Not only did he tally a goal (his ninth of the season at 10:44) and an assist (on David Pastrnak’s 13th of the year at 6:38) to give the Bruins a 3-0 lead in the middle stanza., but Marchand, in his second game back from a designated upper-body injury, continued to get inside the Flyers’ heads.
With their sloppy play and losing streak getting to them, Marchand capped off his second period drawing a cross-check on Shayne Gostisbehere that negated a Flyers power play.
What was once a concern turned into a sigh of relief for Bruins fans as they saw a trademark Marchand performance.
Al Morganti didn't mince words with his analysis of the goaltender interference call that negated the Flyers goal. pic.twitter.com/yKyKQ90cqU
— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) December 2, 2017
Looking to cut the Bruins lead to two, the Flyers appeared to get on the board on Claude Giroux’s slap shot late in the second period. Instead of heading into the locker room with momentum, the Flyers left the ice to a chorus of the Philly boo birds after the second period.
The boos were directed at both the Flyers and the officials no doubt. That’s because Simmonds elbowed Tuukka Rask in the helmet that gave Cassidy a reason to challenge for goaltender interference. It was obviously successful.
Clearly, the folks at the NHL hockey ops department need to clarify what constitutes goaltenders interference. Several cases over the last few years have been in question for all 30 NHL teams, including the Sidney Crosby review last week. This time, however, the on-ice officials and the league got it right.
Rask, Bruins D seal the shutout
Throughout Saturday’s matinee, Rask and the defense in front of him settled the pace in the Flyers attacking zone leading to the Bruins’ first shutout of the season.
Rask was stellar in his positioning and rebound control. Whenever Rask allowed a rebound, the Bruins were there to recover. It all led to Philly settling for very few second chances in the prime scoring areas.
Sure, Rask still has some work to do. But he’s trending in the right direction allowing just six goals and going 2-1 in his last three starts. He’ll still have some off nights as will Anton Khudobin (eventually) but having both goaltenders play well of late is becoming a luxury for the Black and Gold.
Bruins getting healthier
With players returning to the lineup over the last few weeks, it’s no coincidence that the Bruins go into Monday’s game in Nashville with a 6-1 mark in their last seven.
Over the last two games, the likes of Marchand, Spooner, David Backes, David Krejci and Ryan Spooner have all returned to contribute to the lineup. Both Jake DeBrusk and Adam McQuaid appear to be returning sooner rather than later.
Whenever DeBrusk and McQuaid return, the Bruins will have their ideal lineup intact. That could spell trouble for Paul Postma, Matt Beleskey and Frank Vatrano – all healthy scratches on Saturday.
It’s been a tough process but the Black and Gold have done a tremendous job weathering the injury bug for the first two-plus months of the 2017-18 season.