What we learned: Deadline trio and Swayman spark Bruins to shutout over Isles
In one week’s time, the Boston Bruins went from a fringe playoff team to, dare we say it, a legitimate contender.
Taylor Hall, Mike Reilly and Curtis Lazar provided a breath of fresh air upon their arrivals. Amidst an injury-plagued season, Don Sweeney provided some much-needed balance to Boston’s lineup with his trade deadline acquisitions.
The improved depth was on full display in Friday’s 3-0 win over the Islanders. The deadline trio all provided timely offensive moments beginning with Reilly’s crafty assist on David Pastrnak’s tally with 2.4 ticks left in the opening stanza.
Hall quickly extended the cushion to two with his second goal as a Bruin in the middle 20. Lazar secured the win with the empty netter.
Jeremy Swayman earned his first career shutout with a 25-save outing to cap off the two-game sweep over the Islanders.
“Huge four points these past two days,” Pastrnak said after notching his 17th goal of the season. “Now we just have to build on that.”
Here’s what we learned from Boston’s third win of the Hall, Lazar and Reilly era.
Deadline trio providing a trickle down effect
Sometimes, even a tight-knit locker room needs a shot in the arm.
Boston’s last game before the trade deadline quickly became one to forget. But very few — if any — around The Hub discussed the 8-1 drubbing at the hands of the Washington Capitals afterward.
Sweeney went to work, adding Reilly, Hall and Lazar in the late evening/early morning timeframe. The sixth-year GM filled the secondary scoring and defensive needs without relinquishing significant assets to Ottawa (a 2022 third-round pick for Reilly) and Buffalo (Anders Bjork and a 2021 second-round selection for Hall and Lazar).
The deadline trio expressed excitement upon hearing the news. Their new teammates welcomed them with open arms. The on-ice results paid immediate dividends for Hall, Reilly, Lazar and the rest of the club.
“Overall, I think all three lines since we got these guys have been really good,” Pastrnak said of the trickle-down effect.
Through three contests, Hall has already doubled his goal output from his 37-game stint with the Sabres. His instant chemistry with David Krejci and Craig Smith finally gives Cassidy an elusive second line to complement the potent top trio of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak.
Lazar’s energy and versatility give the Bruins a stable fourth-line option. He’s found an initial niche as a glue guy centering Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner.
Lastly, the Bruins finally landed that coveted left-shot offensive-minded blue-liner in Reilly. The Chicago-born defenseman tallied a pair of assists in his three games with his new club, including a spectacular helper on Pastrnak’s tally Friday night.
Surely, this three-game run is merely a brief sample size. But the early results from Hall, Reilly and Lazar provided a fresh perspective for themselves and their new teammates. Between the newcomers and a healthier defensive core — if or when that happens — the Bruins may have themselves a competitive team worthy of another deep postseason run.
“It’s been really fun,” Pastrnak added. “And hopefully we can keep going and build something special.”
Hall, Reilly and Lazar combined for three goals and two assists since entering Boston’s lineup on Tuesday. On Friday, one of their new teammates between the pipes put the trio in a prime position to contribute on the scoresheet.
Swayman living in the moment
Every goaltender in the league has a different preparation tactic before a coach asks him to man the net. But even Swayman differentiates from the norm.
During warmups, Swayman skated over to a fan holding a 2024 Swayman for President sign. He promptly took a selfie with that loyal Bruins supporter before continuing his warmup.
The pregame fan interaction isn’t anything new for a smiling Swayman. The 21-year-old began embracing the friendly pregame meet and greet with spectators during his time at Maine.
“I think it’s gotten better over the years,” Swayman said of his pregame routine. “At my first game in Maine, I was that goalie who didn’t talk — I was super focused. And as the years went on, I was more progressively getting into the crowd, into the moment and having fun with it.”
Swayman had his fun in his viral pregame moment. In the end, he provided a bigger smile for the socially distant TD Garden faithful.
Hoping to salvage their first loss of the season to the Bruins on Thursday, Barry Trotz’s club found their skating legs early. A defensively stout Islanders bunch set up a healthy transition game, generating a handful of odd-man rushes during the 60-minute tilt.
It didn’t bother Swayman one bit. He stayed in the moment, making some quality stops on breakaways, secondary scoring chances and the casual routine save.
Swayman’s composure provided the Bruins with added stability in net amid a time of injuries and roster turnover. In the process of his impressive five-game run (4-1, 1.78 GAA, .938 SV%) the Alaskan-born netminder is having the time of his life.