(Photo: Alan Sullivan)
Wednesday night’s tilt against the Philadelphia Flyers should have been the triumphant return of a team that found their game on a short road trip that produced two wins and four points for the Boston Bruins. During the morning’s pre-game skate, the absences of both Patrice Bergeron and Matt Beleskey were noticed. Beleskey, it was disclosed, was out with an upper body injury, while Bergeron’s absence was explained as personal reasons.
Later in the day it was announced that Bergeron and his wife Stephanie Bertrand had welcomed their first child, a son, earlier in the day. The boy, named Zach, already has his first game puck. Bergeron, playing on only one hour of sleep, scored the second goal for the Bruins and kept the puck to give to his new baby. And Zach, because of his October birthday, will not be draft eligible until 2034.
Patrice Bergeron will be playing tonight, per Cam Neely on 98.5 The Sports Hub. Bergy became a new father this morning, welcoming son Zack
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) October 21, 2015
“There’s no word that can really describe [becoming a father]. It’s an amazing feeling and it’s still kind of surreal,” Bergeron shared after the game. “I’m trying to soak everything in and spend some time with my son. So it’s been a great day I guess.”
Watching Bergeron winning face offs, battling for pucks and somehow appearing all over the ice makes his eventful night, early morning and lack of sleep even more astounding. Of all of the Bruins it would have been completely understandable had he been sluggish skating end-to-end or less than his usual high percentage winning on the draw. Instead it was many of his teammates who seemed to be struggling to harness some energy—energy necessary to play a team like the Flyers.
Perhaps with their light approach to the first period, it was not surprising that the Flyers got on the board first just shy of halfway through that first frame. Unlike at other times though, the Bruins did not crumble and instead, exactly four minutes later, Brett Connolly tied the game with his first goal as a Bruin (assisted by Bergeron and Brad Marchand). The Flyers would again go up one when Sam Gagner responded less than two minutes later.
If there is one thing that can be looked at positively with the disappointing start the Bruins have had, it would be their impressive, and league-leading, power play. So it should not have been a surprise that when Flyers captain Claude Giroux got whistled for a double minor for high-sticking Connolly that Bergeron was able to capitalize on the man advantage and once again tie the game. It was this puck that Bergeron saved to give to his newborn son.
Despite this positive momentum, the end of the first period would be marred by a check by Zac Rinaldo that the on-ice officials deemed as charging, giving him a 5-minute major and a game misconduct. Speculation was that Rinaldo would see a lengthy suspension, but as it was announced Thursday afternoon, the Department of Player Safety concluded that no additional punishment was warranted for the check.
In addition to the major penalty, Zdeno Chara would receive a slashing penalty on Giroux and Giroux would get an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Chara. Of course, when it all got added up, it would put the Bruins down a man for the first five minutes of the second period with one of their main penalty killers in the box.
Having done an excellent job of keeping the Flyers from getting any chances during the major penalty, with just 29 seconds remaining on the kill, Chris Kelly would find an opportunity to garner a shorthanded goal. About four minutes later Boston native Jimmy Hayes got his second as a Bruin and Boston was up by two goals just short of the halfway mark in the game. It seemed that the team had found their legs and were the team that had taken the two road wins.
Unfortunately, as the third period got underway it became clear that something had changed with the Bruins. The sense of urgency was missing. There was a time when being up by two goals would have all but assured those in black in gold the win, but that was a time when they were stingy in goals against. Such has not been the case since the end of the 2013-14 season. And with 9:36 remaining in the third frame, scoring twice in the space of 2:36 of play, the Flyers had tied it back up, and it would remain knotted until the horn blew to signal the end of regulation.
Ryan Spooner took a hooking penalty 1:36 into the three-on-three overtime and Giroux would give his team a happy win just 33 seconds later on the power play.
It was interesting that it was a hooking penalty that was the Bruins’ undoing. Coach Jim Madigan, head coach of the Northeastern University Huskies had strong words about hooking penalties when his team was whistled for them last Friday night.
“We take three hooking penalties, reaching penalties, because we’re lazy on one-on-two situations,” he said. “Just not smart hockey and they capitalize.”
That sums up what happened to the Bruins in the extra frame, leaving them with a 4-game home record of 0-3-1.
The B's got off to the right start vs. the Flyers, but the final 20 minutes hurt them in a 5-4 OT loss. WATCH: https://t.co/iRV7ouQTE1
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) October 22, 2015
Perhaps the best thing that can be taken away from a disappointing game is that it was the Boston Bruins home game for Hockey Fights Cancer, an important NHL initiative to help in the raising of funds for cancer research.
The Bruins head again again on the road, this time to Brooklyn where they will take on the New York Islanders on Friday night. It will be interesting to see which team appears on the ice dressed in the Spoked-B. So far this season it has been a question mark not just from game to game but also from period to period.