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  • Takeaways: Another slow start and third-period lapse haunt the Bruins.

    Joey Partridge March 23, 2024

    Just two days ago, head coach Jim Montgomery called out the Boston Bruins as they struggled to handle pucks against the heavy-checking New York Rangers.

    On Saturday, the Bruins looked to take Montgomery’s criticisms into something productive against the Philadelphia Flyers. The Bruins couldn’t quite match the desperation of John Tortorella’s squad en route to a second straight loss to kick off their six-game road trip.

    The Bruins came back twice in the third to tie the game only to return to chase mode, resulting in a 3-2 loss. Here’s what we learned as the Bruins drop back-to-back decisions in regulation for the first time in the calendar year.

    Another slow start put the Bruins in a tough spot

    These two teams met just a week ago in Boston. The Bruins survived in a 6-5 win as Philadelphia refused to go away, as is usually the case with a Tortorella-led team.

    In March, every game matters, and this one meant a little more after Thursday’s performance. But the Bruins’ habits of starting slow continued.

    The first period was “blah,” as NESN commentator Andy Brickley described. It was not the type of bounce back effort that Bruins fans envisioned, but it wasn’t all bad. Boston captain Brad Marchand showed some life and emotion after taking a knee-on-knee collision with Flyers defenseman Erik Johnson. Marchand was then penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct.


    The second period wasn’t any better. The Bruins managed to string together a couple of strong shifts, but Philadelphia answered.

    As if the afternoon wasn’t weird enough, Tyson Foerster fanned on a one-time attempt on the power play only to find Travis Konecny all alone. Despite Linus Ullmark getting a good piece of the shot on an incredible effort, the puck trickled in to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead.

    Moments later, when it looked like Boston had a responsive shift together, Hampus Lindholm forced an errant pass, leading to a Scott Laughton breakaway. Ullmark once again stood tall to keep his team within striking distance.

    The Bruins took only 13 shots in 40 minutes of play. A night after Montgomery said he was disappointed with the effort and competitive level, his team couldn’t quite deliver an appropriate response.

    “I thought our checking was really good too, today,” Montgomery told Brickley. “But, we had a couple of mistakes there that unfortunately cost us.”

    Brazeau continues his recent scoring surge as Bruins attempt a comeback.

    The third period provided another test for the Bruins. How would they find a way to get back into this game?

    Just after midway through the final 20, Justin Brazeau potted his fifth of the year to tie the game at one. That put Brazeau on a three-game point streak, including four goals and one assist.

    Brazeau became the first Bruins rookie to score in three consecutive games since Brad Marchand in 2011, and we all remember what happened in the spring of 2011, right?

    “Confidence always helps a player,” Brazeau told reporters of his recent scoring surge. “You play with more poise and you feel good about your game.”

    Brazeau’s emergence continued on Saturday as he saw time on Boston’s top-six next to Charlie Coyle and Brad Marchand during the third period. But like his tying marker against the Rangers, Boston’s initial spark from a Brazeau third-period tally eventually fizzled.

    Game management lapses prevent the Bruins from tallying a point.

    Brazeau’s second third-period equalizer in as many games gave the Bruins life. But Boston’s struggles to secure positive results during crunch time popped up again at the worst possible time.

    Nearly five minutes after Brazeau netted his fifth goal of the season, Konecny walked in on the off side and found the back of the net on one that Ullmark probably would want back.

    The Bruins responded 56 seconds later, where Morgan Geekie shielded the puck along the corner before finding Danton Heinen. The versatile Boston winger promptly beat Sam Ersson on his glove side to put his team back in position to take at least one point out of this one.

    But with 1:29 left in regulation, a costly turnover from Heinen in the offensive end resulted in a quick transition for the Flyers. Just moments later, Foerster beat Ullmark to the glove side to secure Philadelphia’s 36th win of the season.


    “At this time of year, it’s tight hockey,” Heinen said. “You don’t want to turn pucks over. And if you look I turned that one over, and they went back down.”

    After another setback, the Bruins will have two days off before traveling to South Florida to face the Panthers, with the top spot in the Atlantic potentially up for grabs. A pair of wins against the Rangers Saturday and these same Flyers 24 hours later would push Florida back to the top spot in the division.

    The road trip won’t get any easier. After Tuesday’s matchup with the Panthers, the Bruins will face three more teams currently holding playoff positions: the Lightning, Hurricanes, and Predators. Between their stops in Florida and next week’s slate in Carolina and Nashville, the Bruins will travel to Washington to face the Capitals, who sit one point behind the Red Wings for the final wild-card spot in the East.

    Even with their playoff spot likely well-secured, the Bruins will need to improve in matching the desperation of the teams fighting for their playoff lives.

    “That’s something we need to match coming down the stretch,” Heinen said.

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