Bruins Notes: Boston Shows Life After ‘Very Sleepy’ First Period

The Bruins found their game in the second and third periods

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October 1

If you were watching the Bruins-Flyers game Saturday afternoon, you probably noticed how sluggish Boston looked in the first period and thought, “Here we go again.”

Fans saw too often last season how a slow start was damaging to the Bruins, but after the first intermission the team turned it on on all cylinders and ended up with a 4-0 win over Philadelphia at TD Garden.

Yes, it is just preseason, but the B’s can ill-afford to walk into 2022-23 with the same problems that plagued them last year. They were outshot by the Flyers 8-2 after 20 minutes but had a massive response that included two goals apiece from Marc McLaughlin and Johnny Beecher.

“First period, very sleepy,” head coach Jim Montgomery told NESN’s Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley on the network’s postgame coverage. “Thank God it’s exhibition season otherwise my words wouldn’t have bee so polite in between periods. … We just continued to grow. The physicality you really love. And there were a lot of players … it was good for us.”

Nick Wolff was one of those players who showed that physicality when Zack MacEwen cross-checked Nick Foligno. Although Foligno was ready to drop the gloves himself, Wolff immediately stepped in and took down MacEwen.

Chris Wagner also showed plenty of signs of physical play by finishing the game with eight hits.

“He was incredibly physical (Saturday),” Montgomery said of Wagner on NESN. “What he’s doing, that’s what you love about him.”

On the offensive side, it was McLaughlin and Beecher who provided the goals. McLaughlin got the scoring started on the power play after the Bruins decided to simplify their game and not get too fancy when a scoring opportunity was presented to them. Beecher added two in the third, including an empty-netter.

While it is just preseason, it’s good to see the younger players fighting for a spot in the lineup.

Here are some other notes from Saturday’s Bruins-Flyers preseason game:

— The Bruins faced a scary moment early in the game when Fabian Lysell took a hit from Rasmus Ristolainen. He immediately went down the tunnel and did not return.

Taylor Hall also disappeared from the Bruins bench and never emerged, either. But Montgomery told reporters after the game that they both suffered “minor injuries” and likely will miss a day or two.

Montgomery also noted the Bruins want to get Lysell into another preseason game, so that’s good news all around.

— Wagner was a cap causality last season and spent all but the final game of the 2021-22 season in Providence and appeared in the Stanley cup playoffs, but he’s been making a lasting impression during the preseason.

The veteran has made a steady impact on the bottom six and even finished Saturday’s game with eight hits, bringing his total to 16 this preseason. The other eight came against the Flyers in the Bruins’ preseason opener.

It’s unclear what his future holds in Black and Gold, but he’s been working hard, his teammates love him and he’s been useful on the penalty kill. If he continues to really turn his game around, it will be difficult for the B’s to cut him from the NHL roster.

— Linus Ullmark posted a 21-save shutout through three periods.

The Flyers had some really good scoring opportunities in the first period, outshooting the B’s 8-2, and Ullmark allowed the Bruins to climb back into the game energy-wise, and he was there to bail his team out when they weren’t performing to their standards.

— Jakub Zboril continued to impress and racked up 20:53 of ice time, second behind just Connor Clifton.

Zboril looks as if he hasn’t missed a beat since returning from ACL surgery and clearly has worked hard throughout his rehab. The young defenseman also had 4:16 of ice time on the power play.

Montgomery called Zboril a “top-five player” in camp and it’s clear to see why he said that. Zboril certainly will give the Bruins brass some difficult decisions when it comes time to build the final roster for Opening Night.

— We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Jake DeBrusk.

The Bruins forward was arguably the best player on the ice for Boston. He consistently showed his speed, you always knew when he was on the ice and he nearly had a goal in the second period. After a 2021-22 season that was surrounded by drama, turmoil and a trade request, DeBrusk probably is playing with a bit of a chip on his shoulder.

After rescinding his trade request, it’s clear DeBrusk is ready to prove this is where he wants to be.

— The Bruins return to preseason action Monday night when they travel to New Jersey to take on the Devils. Puck drop from Prudential Center is set for 7 p.m. ET and you can catch the game on NESN+.

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Thumbnail photo via Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports Images
Boston Bruins forward Marc McLaughlin
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