The Boston Bruins loss to the Philadelphia Flyers by a score of 6-3 was an eye opening experience filled with peaks and valleys.
Jeremy Swayman trudged through what will become known as the first ugly loss of his young professional career. But to be fair the defense in front of him, typically a hallmark of head coach Bruce Cassidy’s game plan, was porous to say the least.
Perhaps it’s fair to expect growing pains considering it was Boston’s second game played since the NHL opened its season on October 12th. Remember Boston has new faces in key places and chemistry takes time to develop.
However, if they are to secure two points in their upcoming game against a Buffalo Sabres team, who as of late has been playing very inspired hockey, these lapses need to be addressed.
Atkinson, Brassard, Farabee haunted Boston all night
As they say consistency is key and a reoccurring theme of Wednesday night’s game was how the line of Cam Atkinson, Derick Brassard and Joel Farabee capitalized on every opportunity Boston provided them.
Beginning with an ineffective pinch from defenseman Derek Forbort on Flyers forward Derick Brassard along the half-wall. Forbort fails to establish proper defensive positioning on Brassard who not only retains puck possession he also shakes off an equally weak attempt from Craig Smith to disrupt the play, and zips a beautiful pass to the streaking Atkinson who looks off Joel Farabee and sneaks a wrist shot past Clifton and through Swayman for the games first goal.
Fast forward to the third period, where Boston had battled back from 1-0 and 3-1 deficits to tie the game. Making Mike Reilly’s neutral zone turnover within the first minute all the more deflating. Retrieving a pass from Clifton, Reilly scampers from behind his own net clearing his defensive zone with ease.
At center ice, Reilly attempts a high risk pass into the teeth of the Flyers’ neutral zone defense which is picked off by Farabee turning the play into a three on one against Carlo. Farabee exercised extreme patience and forced Carlo to a knee before feathering a backdoor pass to Atkinson resulting in a tap-in.
The Bruins pairing of Clifton and Forbort left much to be desired
Compared to Charlie McAvoy/Matt Grzelcyk and Brandon Carlo/Mike Reilly, a defensive pairing of Connor Clifton/Derek Forbort sticks out like a sore thumb. It’s worth noting neither player had seen much of one another throughout pre-season play, as Forbort frequently was paired with McAvoy. So the decision to not only put the unfamiliar together, but continue to trot them out well into the second period, cost them not one but two goals.
Early in the second frame defenseman Keith Yandle recognized he was without a direct passing lane to James van Riemsdyk on the breakout. So the offensively minded Yandle opted for an indirect pass off the end-boards to the side of Swayman. Assuming an icing call on the play, Boston was visibly relaxed as van Riemsdyk streaked down the wing, winning the footrace over Clifton and forcing a no angle shot off Swayman’s pads.
Forbort managed to tie up Oskar Lindblom but in doing, so removed himself from the play which opened up ice in front of Swayman. A rebound off van Riemsdyk’s initial shot ricocheted off the prone Bruins netminder trickling directly into the slot where forward Scott Laughton, left wide open by the lackluster backcheck from Boston’s forwards, left Swayman no time to recover and deposited an easy goal.
Now it’s worth noting that a clutch goals from Karson Kuhlman, Taylor Hall, and Brad Marchand awarded the Bruins an opportunity to collect two points heading into the third period. But working on eliminating those mental errors, which cost them two points, will make a team which by all accounts is still getting used to itself the Stanley Cup contender they pride themselves on being.
Fortunately, the Bruins can right the ship as they’re back at it tonight with goaltender Linus Ullmark set to make his Bruins debut against his former teammates in Buffalo.