Bruins Takeaways: Why Bounce-Back Win vs. Jets Was Encouraging

Bruins Takeaways: Why Bounce-Back Win vs. Jets Was Encouraging originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Boston Bruins have endured a rough patch — at least by their standards — over the last week or so with three losses in four games, including back-to-back regular-time losses for the first time all season.

It was their worst stretch of the 2022-23 season, aside from losing four of five during the All-Star break. The Bruins responded to that slump with a 10-game winning streak in late January/early February.

Will we see anything similar in the coming weeks?

The Bruins needed a setback Thursday night and they got it. A 3-0 away win against a very good Winnipeg Jets team is just what the doctor ordered for Boston.

Here are a few takeaways from the win that will impact the team through the end of the regular season.

Avoid a bad start

Slow starts have been a big problem for the Bruins lately.

  • March 11 vs. Red Wings: Dropped 0-2 after the first third

  • March 12 at Red Wings: 1:0 after the period, 4:1 after the second period

  • March 14 at Blackhawks: 1-0 down after the first period

The Bruins have been great at making up deficits this season. Their 17 wins and .585 win percentage when ranked first are both No. 2 in the league behind the New Jersey Devils. But eventually the constant playing from behind catches up with you, and the Bruins need to be aggressive again early in games and put opponents on their heels.

They did this against the Jets. Trent Frederic scored just 50 seconds into the game and then Pavel Zacha doubled Boston’s lead later in the third.

The Bruins are 34-1-3 when they score the first goal. They are a tough team to play against when the opponent is watching the game. The Jets found out firsthand Thursday night.

Penalty kill increases tremendously

The Bruins penalty has been the best in the league for pretty much all season and is still No. 1 with an 85.7 percent win rate.

But in the five games leading up to Thursday, the Bruins’ PK was 30th in the league at 58.8 percent. Boston allowed power-play goals in four of those five games and allowed five goals overall.

Thursday against the Jets was a step in the right direction for the Bruins as their penalty shootout got back on track. The Jets had five power plays and didn’t score on any of them.

The Bruins goalie Jeremy Swayman made a couple of big shorthanded stops and ended up with 10 saves on penalties – four of them on high threat chances.

Charlie McAvoyBrandon Carlo and Derek Forbort all played 4:00 ice time or more on penalties and did a great job fighting for 50-50 pucks, clearing the zone and blocking shots.

Penalty killing is one of this Bruins team’s primary strengths and they will need that unit to play at the elite level to reach the Stanley Cup Finals in June. As such, it was definitely encouraging for the Bs to see the penalty kill regain its dominant form against a Jets power play that boasts some impressive talent like Kyle Connor.

Rest Derek Forbort

USA TODAY sports

Bruins defenseman Derek Forbort has been rock solid on the blue line this season. He was particularly effective on penalties, where he blocks shots, clears traffic off the front of the net and uses his 6ft-4, 215-pound frame to gain possession and fight for 50-50 pucks.

Forbort blocked a shot from his right leg late Thursday in the second half and didn’t return. He was ruled out in the third period with a lower body injury. Matt Porter of The Boston Globe reported that Forbort “was wearing a hiking boot on his right leg after the game”. Montgomery told reporters after Thursday’s win that Forbort will likely not play again on the remainder of the road trip, which concludes in Buffalo on Sunday.

Forbort missed most of November with an upper body injury sustained on November 1 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. At this point, the Bs were No. 1 in penalties. They finished 20th on penalties during the time he missed in November. Since his return on Nov. 29, the Bruins have been No. 2 in penalty shootouts — 0.2 percent behind the Carolina Hurricanes over that span.

The veteran defender leads the Bruins in blocked shots (28), hits (22) and ice time per game (3:08) in penalty shootouts. If he misses a lot of time, it would be a major setback for the Bruins’ penalty.

The Bruins should give Forbort as much rest as possible until the end of the regular season, and with seven good defensemen on the NHL roster (including Forbort), they have enough body to make that happen.

Jeremy Swayman is recovering after two losses

Boston’s back-up goalie has struggled in his previous two games, giving up three goals in a loss to the Oilers last Thursday and four goals to the Red Wings in Sunday’s loss.

Swayman rebounded in Winnipeg by stopping all 36 shots he faced in his third shutout of the season.

“He was great,” Montgomery said told reporters after the game. “That was maybe his best game of the year and he had a lot of good ones. Just his tracking and control, he wasn’t rebounding.”

The Bruins will need Swayman to stay up to date for the remainder of the regular season. As for the standings, they’re in good shape, but you want to play your best hockey in the playoffs. Goalies have been this team’s No. 1 strength all season and it would be huge for the Bs to bring positive momentum to this postseason position.

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