Following a 5-3 win over the Capitals Monday, the Bruins hustled over to Union Station and jumped aboard a train to Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station, arriving in plenty of time for Wednesday night’s matchup vs. the Flyers (8:08 p.m. faceoff).
“Old school, 1960s, Red Wings-Blackhawks,” said coach Bruce Cassidy, recalling the Original Six days when clubs were just beginning to transition to air travel after decades of using the iron horse.
“Too bad they weren’t on it with us.”
Oh, to have a ticket in coach when Gordie Howe and Stan Mikita came aboard. Not to mention Glenn Hall and Roger Crozier.
Sabres throw wrench in Bruins’ plans
Back to work against the Flyers, the top team in the East, the Bruins found out Tuesday afternoon that they’ll have to alter their weekend plans.
The Sabres, due to face the Bruins at the Garden on Saturday and Monday nights, were ordered by the NHL to close up shop for a week because of COVID-19 concerns.
The two games will be made up at a later date — a very tough squeeze in a season that calls for a game virtually every other night. As their schedule now stands (subject to change), the Bruins will play again Friday in Philadelphia and then won’t suit up again until Wednesday at Madison Square Garden vs. the Rangers.
The hiccup in the schedule could mean that Tuukka Rask (3-1-1), the starter vs. the Flyers on Wednesday, will come right back for the Friday game.
Up next: Shutting down JVR
Now in his third season back with the Flyers with mediocre production (average: 44 points), James van Riemsdyk entered Wednesday night’s game as the club’s leading scorer (10 games: 5-8—13).
It’s still early, but that’s the output the Flyers envisioned when they hired JVR back as an unrestricted free agent, at five years and $35 million, on July 1, 2018.
The former UNH standout (6 feet 3 inches, 217 pounds) is among the league’s best net-front forces, particularly on the power play, where his skilled, quick hands are adept at putting away rebounds. Few NHLers can match his ability to finish off in tight spaces.
The Bruins have seen a hint of that skill thus far in big-bodied Nick Ritchie (6-2, 230), who entered the night with four goals — all on the power play.
Ritchie does not have JVR’s soft mitts, but he is equally heavy, a load to move from the top of the blue paint once there, and he has displayed a knack for making the short putts in front. The latter skill sounds easy, but all one has to do is count the number of misfired short putts on an evening to appreciate the art of the finish.
‘Sloppy’ handling leaves Bruins shut out on power play
The Bruins were shut out on four power-play chances — 7:02 worth of time on the advantage — Monday in Washington.
Cassidy felt his charges were “slow” and “sloppy” in handling the puck, leading to few good chances against rookie goaltender Vitek Vanecek.
“Put all that into it,” mused Cassidy, “and we weren’t real effective.”
The Bruins began the night in Philadelphia ranked No. 7 in the league with their power play still clicking at 30.0 percent, and their PK unit ranked No. 1 (88.2 percent).
The Flyers were somewhat dull in the special teams department through 10 games; power play: 25.8 percent (No. 11), penalty kill: 75.7 percent (24th).