PHILADELPHIA – The Flyers looked like the proper slump buster to get the Boston Bruins out of their March doldrums, but instead it looked like the same old uninspired play from the Black and Gold.
The Bruins fell to the Flyers by a 3-1 score when another third period rally came up short, and lost for the fifth time in their last seven games while beginning to look like a hockey club in need of some help. The hope was that the Bruins would look a little more energized after a couple of non-game days on Thursday and Friday, but they looked flat against a weakened Philly bunch.
Things looked bleak for the Black and Gold after two periods as Boston had fallen behind by a 2-0 score for the fourth consecutive game, and opened the door for some Philly offensive with some leaky defensive play. The first was a power play goal for the Flyers as 40-year-old Mike Knuble snapped a shot from the slot past Tuukka Rask.
Then too many Bruins skaters got caught up the ice with Claude Giroux, Jakob Voracek and Matt Read attacking at the other end, and a second rush by that line ended with Read firing a shot past Rask from the left circle. Read snapped one off the post later in the period when he managed to get behind Zdeno Chara and Dougie Hamilton, and create a partial breakaway for himself.
Nathan Horton missed a chance at an open net at the end of the second period with a lackadaisical shot at an Andrew Ference rebound that a recovering Ilya Bryzgalov managed to steer away. But Horton redeemed himself by attacking the net with urgency in the third period and snapping home the rebound of a Dennis Seidenberg shot to cut Philly’s lead in half.
It was Horton’s second straight game with a goal, but it was not nearly enough for the sputtering Black and Gold. Gritty Russian forward Ruslan Fedotenko added the empty net goal to finish off the Bruins’ hopes for a comeback.
GOLD STAR: Matt Read was a dominant force for the Flyers while skating on a line with Claude Giroux and Jakob Voracek that owned the Boston Bruins on Saturday afternoon. He finished with five total shots, attempted, three registered hits and a blocked shot in 16:36 of ice time and also snapped a shot off the far post when he got behind Zdeno Chara and Dougie Hamilton for a partial breakaway in the second period. Read was the best player on the ice for either team and none of Boston’s highly reputed forwards even came close on the other side of the ice.
BLACK EYE: Rare bad night for Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Bergeron lost 13-of-20 face-offs and was a team-worst minus-2 in 19:44 of ice time and finished with only a pair of shots on net. Brad Marchand had one shot and no other impact on the game in 17:42 of ice time. It’s tough for the Bruins to win games when both of those players were complete non-factors. Tyler Seguin attempted eight shots and was at least trying to generate offensive chances, but the rest of that line was pretty bad.
TURNING POINT: The Bruins had a chance to get back into it when Nathan Horton had a wide open shot at the net in the closing seconds of the second period, but didn’t have enough urgency in his rebound attempt of an Andrew Ference shot. Instead Horton tried to slide the puck in without a lot of force and it gave Ilya Bryzgalov enough time to recover and knock the puck away from the danger zone. Horton made up for the lackadaisical reaction by potting another rebound score in the third period, but the Bruins would have at least gone to overtime if No. 18 could have simply buried both of his open net chances.
HONORABLE MENTION: Instead of giving a good honorable mention, this is a bad honorable mention: it might be time to put Aaron Johnson back on the shelf for a while. Johnson managed only 9:50 of ice time as the sixth defenseman and still put up three official giveaways in that short span of time. This writer was slightly surprised when Matt Bartkowski didn’t get placed back into the lineup based on the way he’s played during this call-up, and it might be time to put him back in for Johnson at this point. The veteran defenseman looks like he gets a little worse when he’s asked to play more than a few games in a row, and that was the case on Saturday afternoon.
BY THE NUMBERS: 67 – the number of shot attempts (shots on net, missed shots and shots that were blocked) for the Bruins in the 60-minute loss to the Flyers. They scored only one goal.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “It was another one of those nights where you’re not able to sustain anything. You fall behind. You get some spurts when you see some good things, but the next [forward] line up can’t follow up. We’re not able to sustain much right now. Every game we’ve got one line that’s scoring and three lines that aren’t doing a thing. It’s a different line every game.” –Claude Julien, with a shred of honesty about the inconsistency he’s watching with the Bruins.