An effective leader acts quickly when he sees a potential problem, calmly and efficiently, never losing touch of the fact that he’s dealing with human beings…
…and there stood Shawn Thornton, a handful of Philadelphia Flyers’ Zac Rinaldo’s sweater, landing right hands to the side of his head, swiping Rinaldo’s hand away from his own vestments, then unleashing a barrage of uppercuts that quickly had the Flyers’ center on the ice and the referees escorting the two to their respective cells.
Thornton was matter of fact about his job. He saw an issue – in this case Rinaldo hammering teammate Johnny Boychuck into the boards hard enough to send the husky defenseman sprawling – and he took action.
And all of this after Tyler Seguin, Chris Kelly and Daniel Paille scored rapid-fire goals within 2:18 of each other in the first period for a 3-0 score that would hold until the end.
“I was just reacting to the hit, I thought they were running around a little bit and I thought I’d address it.” said the rugged Thornton. “I don’t think it was a dirty hit by any means, but it was probably the third or fourth by him, so I tried to address it.”
Tyler Seguin scored the game winning goal at 11:53 of the opening period, starting the short, intense scoring burst for the Boston Bruins as they routed the bottom feeding Flyers.
For a while, it looked like neither team was particularly interested in being indoors and playing hockey on such a gorgeous day in Boston – the players floating around as if enjoying a leisurely skate on the pond before enjoying hot chocolate and smores on the shore…
…then a seeing-eye, power play goal by the Bruins and Philly’s daydream shattered onto the ice like cheap glass.
Seguin’s goal came with the man-advantage, taking a feed across the crease from Milan Lucic and flipping the puck into the net behind a surprised Flyers’ goalie Ilya Bryzgalov – the goal opening the flood gates for an offensive assault that saw all of the scoring take place within a 2:18 window of the 1st period.
A minute and a half after Seguin opened the scoring, Chris Kelly took a feed from newcomer Jordan Caron off the back boards, again easily beating a surprised Bryzgalov with a wrister, then less than a minute later the Bruins’ fourth line got involved in the scoring, Gregory Campbell tapping a sweet pass to Daniel Paille who had set up shop on the left post and casually backhanded the puck into the net for a 3-0 Bruin lead…
…and this time there was no blowing a three goal lead. Tight defense and aggressiveness on offense kept the Flyers well clear of Rask and out of the slot, an issue in the past three games.
“This was one of the best defensive games we’ve had in a long time” beamed an obviously pleased Bruins’ coach Claude Julien.
Tuukka Rask stopped all 23 shots that came his way in recording his second shutout of the season, while his counterpart stopped only three of the six shots in the first period, but Bryzgalov regained his composure to pitch a shutout in the final two frames.
In truth, Bryzgalov was excellent in net, his three goals allowed the result of sloppy defense in front of him that allowed the Bruins free roam in the slot – coupled with solid team passing by the Bruins and the acrobatic saves he made from point blank range, his effort in the net is to be lauded.
The Flyers returned home this afternoon to prepare to host the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday, the they have a few days to recover before heading to New Jersey on Wednesday the first part of a home and home series with the Devils that concludes on Friday while the Bruins travel to Ottawa for a Monday night face off with the Senators, catching the red eye to Pittsburgh to take on the Penguins the following night.
Defense, check. Enforcers enforcing, check. All lines contributing on offense, check.
Sounds like the Bruins are back to being the Bruins.