The Bruins are off to their best start in franchise history and show no signs of slowing down no matter what is thrown their way.
Boston overcame a 5-2 deficit to come back and beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in overtime Tuesday night, and beat the New York Rangers 5-2 on Thursday without Jeremy Swayman and Derek Forbort, with the latter leaving their blue line even thinner than it already was.
Both of these wins also came on the road.
The Bruins aren’t even fully healthy yet, but it’s clear they’re finding ways to overcome whatever they’re faced with.
Here are some takeaways from Thursday’s victory.
And he has done just that.
Foligno never saw time in the AHL after clearing waivers and has played like he’s fighting for a roster spot through the first 11 games. He amassed another point with an assist on Trent Frederic’s goal in the third period, played another physical game, created good looks for his teammates, won board battles and, maybe most importantly, continued to fill in for Swayman when it came time for the goalie hug.
“I had to go out and do it. I felt confident that I could. Last year is last year. I put that behind me,” Foligno told reporters after the game. “I know what I can do in this league when I’m feeling good and confident, especially the role that I’ve been given, the conversations we’ve had here. And this group, you find a group that comes together the way this group does, and it gives you an extra boost as a player especially the way I play.”
Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery praised Foligno for “making things happen” this season and he’s exceeding expectations after a 2021 season left fans wondering what he could bring to the Black and Gold. He found himself taking shifts with Brad Marchand — something he undoubtedly deserved.
“I thought Nick Foligno was our best forward for the first 30 minutes, so I just wanted to get him more ice time,” Montgomery told reporters. “I reward players for playing the right way. He’s just making things happen out there.”
Linus Ullmark continues to shine
The Bruins wouldn’t be in the position they are without Ullmark, and now with Swayman labeled week-to-week with his injury, Montgomery and company will lean more on the goalie now more than ever. But Ullmark has deserved the starts as showcased by his 8-0-0 record, and Montgomery will continue to ride the hot goalie Saturday when Boston plays the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“He’s playing well,” Montgomery told reporters. “There’s good chemistry in there right now, so there’s no sense to make too many changes.”
The Rangers had the puck quite a bit throughout the 60 minutes of play and Ullmark really bailed the Bruins out of some situations that could have made this game go sideways.
Game management was at its best
Boston is playing with a ton of confidence, which was on full display Thursday during the Rangers’ puck possession. The Bruins weren’t afraid to drop the gloves as showcased by Trent Frederic and A.J. Greer, they battled to get to pucks, make plays and didn’t let the game get away from them even though the Rangers tried to crawl back into it.
“We showed great poise. This is the best game management game we?ve had without the puck,” Montgomery told reporters. “The Rangers are a really good hockey team, and they had us on the ropes there. But we kept them to the outside, and we had really good team defense. We were really happy with our play. You’re going to get a push from good teams. It’s going to happen.”
Speaking of defense
What more can be said about Hampus Lindholm? The defenseman continued his stellar start with another multi-point game. Aside from his goal and assist, Lindholm also registered two hits and as many blocks. It’s clear why Montgomery believes the blue liner is the “most underrated defenseman” and his 13 points rank third among NHL defensemen. Without McAvoy still and now Forbort for the next four-to-six weeks, the B’s know they can rely on Lindholm to play a strong game on defense but also add some offensive power.
The Bruins have the fight
Both Frederic and Greer dropped the gloves in the win, with the latter going after Braden Schneider after he laid Frederic into the boards. Frederic then went at it with Barclay Goodrow. Something we didn’t see a lot of last yea was the Bruins standing up for one another. That’s not the case this season and it’s not going unnoticed.
“That shows the commitment to the team,” Foligno told reporters. “Our guy gets hit. We don’t like it. They obviously were targeting a few guys (Thursday). That’s the way they’re gonna play, we’re gonna play the same way, not take out their best players but eliminate them and make it hard on them. You stand up for one another. That’s the Bruin way, that’s the culture that’s been built here.”