March 23, 2023

When the NHL released the 2022-23 schedule, one thing that stuck out for the Boston Bruins was a front-loaded home schedule with 11 of their first 18 games at TD Garden. Considering the injuries that they were dealing with and questions surrounding the team with a new coach, they were hoping to take advantage of the home-heavy schedule, but not many people saw a historic start on home ice coming.

The Bruins’ 6-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks Saturday night (Nov. 19) improved the Black and Gold to 11-0-0 at home and tied the 1963-64 Blackhawks and the 2021-22 Florida Panthers as the only teams to begin the season with 11 straight victories at home. It was a dominating performance from Boston, to say the least. Here are three takeaways from the 16th win of the season for the Bruins and their sixth straight overall.

Bruins Set the Tone With Dominant First Period

Despite their strong start to the season, the first periods have not been too kind to the Bruins recently. Against the Blackhawks, Boston set the tone with one of their strongest first 20 minutes in a game this season.

Related: 4 Bruins Playing Above Their Contract Value

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The Bruins outshot Chicago 15-3, out-chanced the Blackhawks 10-0, scored on the power play, and kept the pressure on Chicago goalie Petr Mrazek the entire opening period. They opened the scoring on a power play goal from David Pastrnak with two seconds left on the man advantage. Brad Marchand made a cross-ice pass to Pastrnak who was able to beat Mrazek going side-to-side. 

The domination did stop following the opening period. In the second period, the Bruins outshot the Blackhawks, 15-6. They finished the game with a 43-18 advantage in shots on the net as that stat alone tells you how dominant they were in 60 minutes against their Original Six opponent.

Swayman Returns With Strong Outing

For the first time in 18 days, Jeremy Swayman was back in the net for the Bruins following the lower-body injury he suffered on Nov. 1 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Linus Ullmark and Keith Kinkaid held down the fort until Swayman was cleared to return. If there was a perfect return for Swayman back into the flow of a game, Saturday night was it for coach Jim Montgomery.

Jeremy Swayman, Boston Bruins
Jeremy Swayman, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Swayman stopped 17 of the 18 shots fired at him by Chicago and got more and more confidence as the game went along. The only shot to get by him was by Jonathan Toews when he redirected a Max Domi shot from the point on the power play. After the second-period goal, Swayman stopped everything else thrown at him. His biggest save was early in the third period when Andreas Athanasiou took advantage of a bad Bruins change to break down the left side alone, but Swayman came out of the net to challenge the shot and took away any angle the Blackhawks forward had.

DeBrusk Continues to Take Advantage of Power Play Adjustments

Recently, the Bruins’ power play has been on fire. They had two goals against the Philadelphia Flyers in a 4-1 win on Nov. 17 and five goals in their last three games. Prior to that stretch, the power play had struggled, but some adjustments by the Black and Gold have paid off.

It’s no secret around the NHL that the power play goes through Pastrnak and his one-time slap shot along the left side. He scored a first-period goal on the man advantage and in the second period, the adjustments continued this time with Jake DeBrusk finding the back of the net for the second consecutive game on the power play. DeBrusk has been the net-front presence on the first unit and with Boston clinging to a 2-1 lead, he was parked at the top of the crease and redirected a Marchand pass to double the lead.

Jake DeBrusk, Boston Bruins
Jake DeBrusk, Boston Bruins (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The goal was a carbon copy of a third period on the power play goal against the Flyers when he was parked in front of the net and redirected a pass home. Taking Pastrnak away is obviously a game plan for opponents going into the game, but now DeBrusk is becoming an option for the Bruins in front of the net where they have been having success recently.

Related: Bruins Have a Tough Few Weeks Ahead of Them

After putting the finishing touches on a perfect homestead through their first 11 games, the Bruins now face a stretch in the schedule where it gets tougher against some of the top teams not only in the Eastern Conference, but all of the NHL. The stretch begins with a two-game trip down to Florida to face the Tampa Bay Lightning (Nov. 21) and the Panthers (Nov. 23), before coming home to play the Carolina Hurricanes on Nov. 25. We will learn a lot about this Bruins team over the next six days.

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