It took a little while, but the Boston Bruins finally earned their first three-game win streak of the season.
Boston’s secondary scoring shined again with a stout output against the Philadelphia Flyers after returning from a five-day layover.
Unlikely offensive dynamo Derek Forbort continued his early-season hot streak with his first career two-goal outing. A returning Craig Smith tallied a goal and an assist for his first points of the 2021-22 campaign. Fourth line center Tomas Nosek set the tone with a gritty goal late in the opening stanza to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead. Jakub Zboril tallied an assist late in regulation on David Pastrnak’s back-breaking marker.
Aside from a second-period hiccup with Derrick Brassard knotting things up with his pair of lamplighters shortly after Forbort’s first tally, the Bruins established a steady tempo in all three zones, resulting in their third straight 5-2 victory. Here’s what we learned after Bruce Cassidy’s squad improved to 9-5-0.
Forbort’s unlikely production continued with his career night
Don Sweeney signed Derek Forbort to a three-year, $9 million deal in the off-season for his shutdown skillset. Little did Sweeney — or anyone envision — a significant offensive output from the 6-foot-4 defenseman.
Forbort already matched his career-high in goals after notching his second of the season against the Ottawa Senators nearly two weeks ago. In his 14th game donning the spoked B, the veteran compiled his first career multi-goal performance.
From his point-blast finding its way past ‘former’ Bruin Martin Jones to his slick bar down marker on a brilliant feed from Smith, Forbort provided the Bruins with timely offense. His second goal, in particular, settled the Bruins down after the Flyers built momentum off of Brassard’s pair of lamplighters 8:03 apart in the middle stanza.
“The first one was pretty lucky, and the second one Smitty just made a good play, and I kind of had a lot of time to walk in there,” Forbort said of his pair of markers. “It was just a weird night.”
Forbort endured rough stretches in the first month of the year. He’s settled into a top-pairing role with Charlie McAvoy of late, complimenting the Bruins with his shutdown prowess and unlikely scoring touch.
Whether he sustains a top-pairing role, in the long run, is anyone’s guess. But Forbort has undoubtedly exceeded anyone’s offensive expectations, providing the Bruins with some needed secondary scoring on the back-end.
“The secondary scoring has to come from the D as well,” Cassidy said. “There’s six of them, and we expect them to pitch in, and they have.”
McAvoy delivers wake up call in ‘dog fight’ with Joel Farabee
The Bruins expected a Flyers response following a dominant first period. The Flyers didn’t back down from the challenge, evening things up on the scoreboard and matching Boston’s intensity in the middle 20.
The intensity didn’t match the heated Big Bad Bruins-Broad St. Bullies matchups of the ’70s. But Saturday’s tilt hardly lacked feistiness, beginning with a scrum highlighted from a Rasmus Ristolaninen post-whistle exchange with Patrice Bergeron.
McAvoy found himself with a dance partner in that sequence. It didn’t take long for him to engage with the Flyers again after dropping the gloves with fellow ex-Boston University standout Joel Farabee. McAvoy quickly disposed of Farabee with a few jabs and a takedown.
The Bruins tilted the momentum back to their side following McAvoy’s fourth career fight. They went ahead for good after Forbort’s second of the night shortly after McAvoy’s fighting major expired.
“The shift before they kind of went after Bergy [Bergeron], which I don’t think anyone really appreciates. And then I got slashed on the back of the leg for whatever reason, I don’t really know,” McAvoy said of the sequence leading up to his bout with Farabee. “Things happen so fast. I didn’t necessarily seek [Farabee] out — and for that to happen — but I think that cooler heads prevailed afterward. In the thick of it, it was just something that happened, like all of them. Hopefully, it helped the team, and we ended up winning. So I guess it all worked out.
The McAvoy-Farabee exchange marked Boston’s third fight of the season. Connor Clifton and Trent Frederic dropped the gloves in the team’s first two in-game bouts. The Bruins placed Frederic on IR last week and scratched Clifton for Saturday’s matchup.
Meanwhile, Clifton’s replacement furthered his case for a regular role in Boston with a timely helper.
Zboril is making his case for a full-time roster spot
Sweeney’s trio of opening-round selections during his first draft at the helm left many local hockey supporters scratching their heads. Jake DeBrusk provided the only marquee contributions from that 2015 first-round class after Sweeney passed on Mat Barzal, Thomas Chabot and Brock Boeser, to name a few.
Zboril and Zach Senyshyn joined DeBrusk among that infamous trio. Both struggled to gain traction in their professional developments since arriving in the organization. The former, however, provided some encouraging signs over the last few games.
With Cassidy scratching Mike Reilly for their pair of victories over the Devils and Canadiens last weekend, Zboril found himself in a third-pairing role with Clifton. Even with a rough decision leading to Montreal’s second goal last weekend, Zboril hasn’t looked out of place defensively. His offensive assertiveness provided another intriguing dynamic on Boston’s back end.
Zboril earned the coaching staff’s trust even with Reilly returning to his usual spot on the left side of the third pair in Philly. The Bruins moved Zboril to the right side as a struggling Clifton watched from the press box. The Czech capped off another productive night after delivering a slick feed to fellow countryman David Pastrnak for his fifth goal of the season.
Zboril also developed a stout physical presence during the heavy-checking tilt. He landed four hits and two blocked shots in 17:41 of ice time. In 7:15 with the Reilly-Zboril pairing, the Bruins held a 7-0 edge in 5v5 shot attempts.
The Bruins would love nothing more than for Zboril to build on his recent outings. Indeed, they could use a defensive upgrade between now and the trade deadline. But a consistent Zboril will only help stabilize Boston’s blue-line depth in the interim.
Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.
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