Bruins pound Flyers into submission, 6-1

In today’s NHL, we may never see a team like the Big, Bad Bruins of the 1970s. Their descendants from earlier this decade would even be hard to replicate these days.

But the 2021 Bruins have enough brawn in their lineup to impose their will on more than a few teams and that’s what they did to the Philadelphia Flyers Saturday night at the Garden.

The new heavy line of Trent Frederic (first NHL point, two drawn penalties that led to PP goals), Charlie Coyle and Craig Smith (a goal apiece) had a hand in the team’s first three goals and four of the half-dozen to lead the B’s to a 6-1 win over the Flyers.

We’ll see how the new-look B’s hold up later in the week when they play old friend Zdeno Chara and Washington Capitals. But for a team that’s been focused on getting beefier since the trade deadline last season, Saturday’s win had to have been gratifying.

“Philly’s a big team, and I thought we pushed them hard tonight … We’re going to try to do that every night,” said coach Bruce Cassidy.

If there were fans allowed in the building, the rookie Frederic would already be a Garden favorite. But he’s surely finding his way into the hearts of the folks viewing from home — and he’s definitely making an impression on those in the Bruin dressing room.

“His abrasiveness, we welcome it,” said Cassidy. “It’s one of the things we talked to him about. You don’t have to go out there and be a goof. But get to the net, finish your check, be ornery, piss some people off. Whatever it takes. And I think he’s bought into all those things.”

Said his new centerman Coyle: “He’s earned everything he’s gotten. He’s gotten better and better as the weeks have gone by. And he’s making a difference.”

The B’s played a very good first period and got on the board first on a power-play goal from Patrice Bergeron. Frederic, bumped up to play on the third line after solid work on the fourth, used his strength along the boards to hang on to the puck and draw a holding penalty on Flyer defenseman Mark Friedman. Fourteen seconds later, the B’s had the lead. Frederic later induced Friedman to take an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

After a Bergeron faceoff win, Charlie McAvoy, playing on the first power-play unit in the absence of Matt Grzelcyk (lower body, day-to-day), moved the puck to the left side to David Krejci. Krejci tossed the puck toward the net where Bergeron and Nick Ritchie were doing battle with a couple of Flyers. The puck squirted to the left, Bergeron located it and slipped it behind Carter Hart for a 1-0 lead at 8:09.

Big bodies Frederic and Ritchie (four of the B’s 11 first-period hits) were physical throughout the opening 20 minutes and the B’s outshot Philly, 10-4, but they could not get another one past Hart.

And early in the second period, the B’s saw what looked like a 2-0 lead turn into a 1-1 tie in a matter of seconds. Bergeron found himself all alone in front and he made a move to his backhand that put Hart on his belly. With an empty net in front of him, Bergeron flipped the backhander for what looked like his second of the game, but Hart came up with a spectacular back-kick save to deny the captain.

Then on the same shift after the puck went down the B’s end, Jake DeBrusk’s pass up the middle of the ice through the neutral zone was picked off by Kevin Hayes. The Dorchester native countered the attack and, once he crossed the blue line, he dropped a pass for Jakub Voracek and headed for the net. Voracek sent a pass that Hayes deflected past Jaroslav Halak and we were evened up at 1-1 at 1:14.

But the B’s didn’t have to wait long to get their lead back, scoring off the rush at 2:30.

Charlie Coyle made a drop pass for Craig Smith, whose shot was blocked but kept moving forward. It came to Coyle, who made a terrific backhand pass out into the slot, where Smith collected it and put it past an out-of-position Hart into the empty net for his first goal as a Bruin.

The B’s eventually did get a two-goal lead, their first of the season. And it came on a similar turn-of-events that saw the Flyers tie it up early in the period.

Jaroslav Halak made a terrific save on a 2-on-1 that saw Voracek send Hayes in for a great chance. Halak was able to stop Hayes’ redirect to preserve the slim one-goal lead. And not long after that, the B’s found themselves up 3-1.

With the B’s on the attack, the Flyers were able nudge the puck out of their zone, but the B’s gained control for a quick counter-attack. Smith made a nice indirect pass off the left boards to Frederic. With Coyle charging down the middle of the ice, Frederic flipped it toward the top of the crease and Coyle made a beauty of a one-hand tip to deflect it past Hart.

That gave Frederic his first NHL point and, in just two periods of action, served notice that his line with Coyle and Smith could be something to watch in this season.

Brad Marchand added a couple of third-period goals – one even strength, one power-play – and Bergeron got his second PP goal to give the B’s their first regulation win of the season, and a comfortable one at that.

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