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  • Takeaways: The Bruins’ closeout process continues

    Tim Rosenthal March 17, 2024

    As they attempt to round into playoff form, the Boston Bruins know they’ll receive every team’s best during the final few weeks.

    On Saturday, the Bruins nearly had the Philadelphia Flyers on the ropes after seemingly taking their best shots in the first 40 minutes.

    Jim Montgomery’s squad pushed back both on the scoreboard and the physicality. They countered a Ryan Poheling 2-on-1 marker off a David Pastrnak turnover with a Morgan Geekie blast in the first.

    They also responded to Joel Farabee’s second-period tip with Charlie Coyle’s equalizer for his first of two of the evening.

    Between Travis Sanheim’s scrum-snuffing instincts and a heavy-checking performance from John Tortorella’s bunch, the Bruins stood their ground amid heating tensions. But at the start of the final 20, the Bruins appeared well on their way to takeover mode.

    Coyle’s go-ahead marker and insurance tallies from Johnny Beecher and Jake DeBrusk turned a 2-2 tie into a three-goal cushion a mere 4:04 in. Despite netting that trio within a 2:56 span, Boston’s troubling closeout habits nearly came back to haunt them.


    A pair of wraparound tallies from Nicolas Deslauriers and Farabee and a highlight reel tally by Morgan Frost provided new life for John Tortorella’s bunch.


    Between Frost’s crafty marker and Farabee’s wraparound, the Bruins received another needed insurance marker from Danton Heinen’s coast-to-coast rush. 

    Despite the latest round of defensive lapses and ill-timed blunders, the Bruins prevented the Flyers from establishing one last push at the end of regulation to secure their 6-5 win.

    Here’s what we learned after the Bruins reclaimed the top spot in the Atlantic Division.

    The closeout process ahead of the playoffs continues.


    Boston’s third-period concerns became trendy over the first half of the season. Upon their return from the All-Star Break, they turned a trend into a habit.

    Saturday’s result didn’t provide a learning lesson so much, but rather a reminder.

    Unlike previous collapses, including their most recent final-minute meltdown against Edmonton, the Bruins extended their lead against a Flyers bunch hanging on to third place in the Metropolitan Division by a mere three points. But their attention to detail on the attack evaded them whenever they defended the rush or the front of the net.

    “You’re playing a team that’s desperate to make the playoffs. I thought they were very desperate the entire game,” Montgomery said. 

    “I liked the way in the third period that we raised our level overall, and we were able to establish a lead. But then we have to learn that you have to close out games. You just can’t think it’s over. The other teams are desperate, and it’s like a playoff game. There’s going to be those momentum and emotional swings. We have to be a little bit better and a little more mature as a team.”

    Coming off his two-game ban, Tortorella witnessed his team punch to take a pair of leads and counterpunched to remain afloat.

    The Bruins may not endure a wild night like their St. Patrick’s Eve tilt. But they know to expect similar responses against their remaining slate full of playoff-caliber opponents.

    “I think we’re smart enough to address that,” Coyle said. “It’s almost a win-win. Yes, it’s a weird phase, but you get two points. That’s what we came here to do, and we got it. We can still improve our game upon that, and that can be used as a positive.”

    Of their 13 remaining games, eight come against current playoff teams. They’ll also have a pair of tilts against the Capitals, who trail the Flyers by five points and are three behind the Red Wings for the East’s final wild card spot.

    Coyle ascends to a new career high in goals.

    The Bruins acquired Coyle at the 2019 Trade Deadline to fill a bottom-six need.

    Through peaks and valleys, Coyle solidified his role as Boston’s third line center behind Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci after arriving from Minnesota. Upon Bergeron and Krejci retiring, Coyle entered his 2023-24 campaign in an increased top-six and special teams role.

    Given the increased ice time, Coyle likely expected a scoring uptick during Boston’s centennial season. But he’s fully reaping the benefits, providing a reliable hand in multiple situations to make the most of his promotion.


    “When you score a little more, and you contribute a little more, you gain more confidence. Then that builds, and you want to keep it going,” Coyle said. “I just try to play the way I know how to play. You’re put into a different role, and you try to make the most of that opportunity and rise to the occasion. I’m playing with some good linemates and people who are playing some pretty good hockey.”

    Coyle asserted himself appropriately during the second and third frames Saturday night.

    The Weymouth product notched Boston’s second equalizer on a set play off Pavel Zacha’s faceoff win, promptly going to the front of the net to bury Brad Marchand’s improvised feed for a power-play marker.

    Coyle struck again shortly after notching his career-high 22nd tally, deking his way to the front of the net to put the Bruins ahead for good.

    In 13 fewer games, Coyle surpassed his previous high in goals set in 2015-16. The 2011 first-round selection also sits two points shy of matching his career-best 56-point campaign from 2016-17.

    Beecher shows why he belongs in Boston.

    His faceoff prowess came naturally. But despite his success at the dot, Beecher hit a rookie wall after earning his role as Boston’s fourth-line center out of training camp.

    Salary cap complications and declining production prompted Beecher into a Providence assignment in early January. But his return to the AHL gave Beecher increased middle-six and special teams duties.

    Beecher returned to Boston earlier this week as a more polished product. Over the last two games, he’s provided some needed speed and energy between wing and center on the fourth-line.

    Fresh off an 8-for-11 night during Boston’s overtime win in Montreal, Beecher picked up where he left off from the dot on a 5-for-8 outing. Two nights later, the former Michigan Wolverine returned to the NHL scoresheet for the first time since Jan. 8 after burying a slick feed from newcomer Andrew Peeke to extend Boston’s lead to 4-2 just 2:37 after Coyle’s tally.

    Jakub Lauko and Pat Maroon developed a knack for providing instant energy at a moment’s notice. Jesper Boqvist’s scoring touch gives the Bruins a secondary scoring option in the bottom six. Justin Brazeau’s knack for finding space around the net provided a needed element.

    But Beecher’s re-emergence may complicate Boston’s fourth-line postseason outlook. It will become difficult for Montgomery and the coaching staff to overlook his speed, size, and faceoff success upon discussing their ideal lineup ahead of their first-round matchup.

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    Tim Rosenthal

    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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