The Boston Bruins are 14-2-0 and have lost just once during the month of November, but some key tests are on the way.
Thursday’s home game against the Philadelphia Flyers begins a tumultuous nine-game stretch that includes home-and-away meetings with both Colorado and Tampa Bay, last year’s Stanley Cup champion and finalist.
After a league-best start, Bruins coach Jim Montgomery knows there are things that his team must be weary of as it keeps pushing forward.
“Number one is complacency, getting comfortable,” Montgomery said. “Two, learning how to get better while you’re having success. That’s really hard. We kind of get blind spots and we need to make sure that we don’t get blind spots and we’re being analytical and critical of our own game and seeing where we need to grow. And at the same time, (we’re) not trying to be perfect. It’s a balance.”
The Bruins have won four straight, achieving a new franchise-best home mark to begin a season (9-0-0) with Sunday’s 5-2 win over Vancouver. Defenseman Hampus Lindholm had three assists, and Connor Clifton scored his second goal in three games while adding a helper.
Montgomery is leaning toward starting Linus Ullmark (11-1-0) for the eighth time in Boston’s last nine games, but Jeremy Swayman (lower-back injury) should be available for the first time since Nov. 1. Keith Kinkaid was returned to AHL Providence.
“Linus is playing too many games … so we want to get ‘Sway’ back as soon as possible,” Montgomery said. “I can’t say it’s a rotation we’re going to get back to, but getting more of a split rotation going.”
Ullmark’s 13 games and 12 starts were both tied for second-most in the NHL entering Wednesday.
The Flyers visit Boston having lost four in a row (0-3-1), including Tuesday’s 5-4 setback to Columbus in which they rallied from a pair of two-goal deficits to force overtime.
Kevin Hayes, Noah Cates and Travis Konecny each had a goal and an assist, Nick Seeler also scored and Carter Hart made 28 saves in Philadelphia’s last outing.
Konecny scored a power-play goal, breaking the team’s four-game drought on the man advantage.
“Scored a goal to get us a point,” Flyers coach John Tortorella said. “As we’ve talked about during the year, that’s helped us get some points is getting at least one power-play goal a game.”
So far this season, the Flyers have not scored more than a single power-play goal in any game and have allowed a pair in two of the last three contests.
The Flyers also have allowed opponents to get out on their front foot, conceding the first goal in 12 of their 16 games.
“We’ve been battling back pretty much all year,” Hayes said. “You don’t want to go down two goals. But it’s nice to know there’s no quit in this room. We all believe together that we can get a goal.”
Forward Wade Allison is expected to be out three weeks after suffering an oblique muscle strain and hip pointer in Saturday’s game against Ottawa. He was placed on injured reserve Tuesday, and Massachusetts native Max Willman was recalled from AHL Lehigh Valley to take the roster spot.
–Field Level Media