Pay back had to be on the minds of the Boston Bruins tonight and they got it, downing the Flyers 3-0. This was the first time the two teams have met since last season’s historic Flyers comeback from three games down in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
“With the way we played the last few games (1-3-1), we wanted to have a strong game no matter who we played against tonight,” Zdeno Chara, Bruins captain, said. “We had it in our minds that’s the team that came back on us. They really deserved it because they played strong in the playoffs and made it to the Final. We used that a little as a motivator.”
Much of the two rosters facing off were the same, except for the starting goaltenders, and while the rookie Sergei Bobrovsky was good, Tim Thomas made all the difference.
Thomas faced a total of 41 Flyers shots. He stood on his head stopping shots on odd man rushes, a point blank shot by Danny Briere, and even a penalty shot awarded to Scott Hartnell after he was tripped up by Andrew Ference.
“It’s frustrating when you have so many chances and rebounds, two-on-ones, and everything. He’s there to make the save every time,” said Hartnell. “I don’t know how many shutouts he has this year but I think it’s four, or five, or six, or something like that now. It’s only twenty-something games in. They’re playing well in front of him and I wouldn’t say we weren’t hungry enough around the net but we just couldn’t buy a goal.”
After struggling last season and losing his starting job to Tuukka Rask, Thomas is on pace to win another Vezina Trophy. He leads the league in save percentage, (.955) goals against average (1.46) and shutouts (5). The only major goaltending category he doesn’t lead is wins, where he sits in second place with Bobrovsky at 12.
The Flyers power play again floundered going 0-for-4 on the night. They are now 2-for-38 in the last eight games. They have tried every power play combination possible to generate some offense, but nothing seems to spark.
One statistic that jumps out is 18 giveaways on the night. The Flyers are coughing up the puck way too much, especially on the man advantage.
The Bruins power play, which was ranked 17th going into the matchup, went 1-for-2, with Patrice Bergeron scoring it in the first period. The goal would hold on as the game winner.
After the first 22 games of the season, Claude Giroux was averaging just over a point a game and considered among elite status in the NHL. He also leads the league with three short-handed goals. But lately the puck seems to be fighting him, and he’s gone pointless in his last four games.
Giroux is a major impact player on this Flyers roster. He averages over 20:00 a game and plays both the penalty kill and power play. It’s not for lack of trying as he fired four shots on Thomas. If he struggles someone else has to step up.
If the Flyers had beaten the Bruins they would have taken hold of the number one spot in the Atlantic division, but as it is, they share the lead with 34 points in 26 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins. They still hold a slight edge over the Pens because of goal differential, but they’ll need to get back on a winning streak and fast, as their inner-state rivals have won seven straight.
The Flyers are back in action this Saturday against the New Jersey Devils.