When a goaltender decides to shutout a red-hot team on his birthday, you shrug your shoulders and say, “Eh, what can you do.” That is how the Flyers nine-game winning streak came to an end last night, as now 33-year-old Tuukka Rask stopped all 36 shots on the way to a 2-0 win at Wells Fargo Center. It was Rask’s 50th career shutout and reflected how strong this year’s Bruins team is.
Although the Flyers couldn’t find the back of the net in this one, there is definitely a silver lining to the loss.
The game as a whole was a great contest, and was a potential preview of a playoff series we could see later on. The Flyers came out of the gate firing on all cylinders, playing much of the first period in the offensive zone putting lots of pressure on the Bruins defense.
The pressure resulted in two Flyers powerplays in the first period, which saw good puck movement and some opportunities but no cash in. Philadelphia put up 12 shots in both the first and second period, while Boston had shot totals of eight and six respectively.
After the Flyers failed to capitalize on their third powerplay during the second period, Boston then cashed in on their own man advantage in the late parts of the second. Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk fired a shot from the point through a screen set by Jake DeBrusk to take the lead, and effectively ended the Flyers momentum that carried over from the first period.
In the third period, the Flyers managed to get 12 shots on Rask once again. How rare is it to have three periods with the same amount of shots in each? However, that number is misleading.
The Bruins managed to turn the tide and owned the third period, managing to get 15 shots in the period. Rask made a key stop on Ivan Provorov that would’ve cut the game to 1-1 and with plenty of time to take the lead. Patrice Bergeron had a shot ramp up off Travis Sanheim’s stick with around five minutes remaining, and suddenly the deficit was two goals.
The majority of the 12 Flyers shots came at the end of the game and when they had pulled Carter Hart. The Flyers got painfully close to scoring with two posts being struck in the final minutes, and the game ended 2-0 Bruins.
There are some big takeaways here, starting with the play of Carter Hart. Unless you were in the local area, this was a nationally televised game against the class of the NHL. Hart played a great game, especially considering the second goal found the top corner off a deflection. He gave them a chance to win the entire game, and he did not shrink under the spotlight.
Another would be the return of Shayne Gostisbehere, he looked pretty good out there last night. He was immediately placed on the second powerplay unit and looked very comfortable working the point. There was even a great keep-in at the blue line, something that Flyers fans have witnessed multiple times in years past, a signature Ghost play.
Gostisbehere also drew the first penalty of the game after making a move into the slot around Bruin Chris Wagner. With Phil Myers out basically for the rest of the regular season, Gostisbehere has no one threatening his spot in the lineup. He has the rest of the regular season to prove he belongs when the postseason begins, and I have a feeling he will be.
Although the Flyers did outplay the Bruins for most of the contest, there are adjustments that need to be made before the game tomorrow in Tampa.
There were a handful of odd man rushes and offensive zone entries that looked very out of sync. The passes would be uncharacteristically inaccurate or the spacing would be off, and against teams like Boston and Tampa those little details become magnified.
Those types of errors kill offensive chances sometimes before they even get a chance to develop. Tampa will more than likely be generating a lot of offensive opportunities, with the likes of Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos leading the charge.
The Flyers need to bounce back with a strong 60 minute performance tomorrow night.