David Krejci, Bruins get first measure of revenge against Flyers with crushing 7-3 win

The Boston Bruins need three more wins to truly get their revenge for last year’s 2010 semifinals collapse against the Philadelphia Flyers, but today’s 7-3 win must have been sweet for David Krejci.

Krejci gained a measure revenge against Mike Richards and the Flyers, who knocked him out of Game 3 of last year’s series. He scored two goals and two assists as Boston absolutely squashed Philly, adding fuel to the fire of the Flyers’ seemingly eternal goalie questions.

Boston 7, Philadelphia 3; Bruins lead series 1-0

Krejci and his linemate Nathan Horton helped the Bruins build a 2-1 lead in the first period, but the Flyers didn’t really unravel until the ugly second period. Krejci, Mark Recchi and Brad Marchand scored three more goals to bump Boston’s lead to 5-1, chasing befuddled Brian Boucher out of the Flyers’ net in the process.

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James van Riemsdyk scored to make it 5-2 as the second period ended, but things didn’t get much better for the Flyers.

The third period featured a plethora of puzzling penalty calls and non-calls capping a sub-par afternoon of officiating. Mike Richards made it 5-3 on the tail end of a 5-on-3 power play, but Marchand and Gregory Campbell sealed the deal with two more goals.

Although the second period was a disaster overall for Philadelphia, the two-goal span that made it 3-1 Boston really sapped a lot of the Flyers’ energy. They got there thanks to a late first period goal by Horton and Recchi’s tally 2:33 into the second.

Plenty of positives for the Bruins.

Obviously, the Bruins must feel excited about the Krejci-Horton-Milan Lucic line, even if Lucic technically didn’t score. Lucic was more involved in this game than he was in the first round, although he needs to be careful being that he was thrown out of the late proceedings after mixing it up with Flyers fighter Zac Rinaldo.

The Bruins also received great performances from Patrice Bergeron (three assists) and Marchand (two goals, one assist). Much has been made about Philadelphia’s offensive depth, but the Bruins can roll with more than one quality scoring line themselves.

Obviously, Boston also boasts one of the best goalies in the NHL in Tim Thomas. He made 31 out of 34 saves, including some highlight reel stops that must have made Flyers fans a little jealous.

The only issue for the Bruins is their still-stagnant power play. They went 0-for-5 in Game 1, extending their struggles to 0-for-26 in eight playoff games. It’s an area of concern, but with Boston dominating like they are at even strength, it’s far from a crisis.

Flyers face questions in areas beyond goaltending.

Speaking of crises, the Flyers have a lot of questions to answer. The most obvious one revolves around their goalie issues. Will Philly go back to Boucher or stick with Sergei Bobrovsky? It must be noted that Michael Leighton’s play sparked much of the team’s 2010 turnaround after Boucher struggled and then dealt with an injury.

Goaltending isn’t the only issue for Philadelphia, though. The Flyers lost plenty of puck battles during the game and must find a better matchup against Boston’s Horton-Krejci-Lucic line. Perhaps they should take Pierre McGuire’s advice and send two-way center and captain Richards after that group?

The Flyers power play wasn’t exactly fantastic either, as they only went 1-for-5 in this game.

Philly might take two positives from the game: 1) their offensive leaders produced and 2) Chris Pronger looked more like his old, angry self in Game 1. Danny Briere scored his playoff-leading seventh goal, Richards found the net on the power play and JVR scored a goal while peppering the net with eight shots.

They’re going to need Pronger and his mates to play elite defense if they hope to get back into this series against the Bruins, though. This Flyers team might succeed in tough spots, but the Bruins look like a more versatile opponent in 2011.

First pick, first goal: Nico Hischier also flirting with first hat trick

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One remarkable thing about the New Jersey Devils’ hot start is that Nico Hischier, the top pick of this past draft, had yet to score his first NHL goal.

Of course, there’s a danger to looking at only goals. After all, the 18-year-old had four assists in six games, with three coming in his last two contests. The Devils were justified in all of those comments about it being just a matter of time …

… As it turns out, it didn’t take Hischier much time against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday.

Not only did the Swiss scorer find the net for his first goal by roofing a nice setup from Taylor Hall and Drew Stafford.

He also showed some savvy in scoring his second goal less than two minutes later.

Hischier now has two periods and change to collect his first-ever hat trick in that same game.

A quick look at how he’s been doing, overall

Even when other Devils stole some of his thunder in what might have been an opening statement of a first win for New Jersey, Hischier showed some dynamic moves.

Nice.

As NJ.com’s Chris Ryan reported, Devils coach John Hynes was left raving about Hischier after he collected two assists in the Devils’ shootout win against the Tampa Bay Lightning earlier this week.

“He was very good in all aspects,” John Hynes said on Wednesday. “Defensively he was excellent, going back to the video this morning, some of the chances he had that he didn’t score on were excellent. When you look at the chances he created, the assists he had, the assist on the game-tying goal, he set up (Taylor Hall) very well in the offensive zone. I’d say that was his most complete game to date.”

Hischier began the season being used sparingly, but he logged more legitimate top-six minutes the past couple games. He sure seems like a quick study so far. Hischier’s getting some protected zone starts and other situations, but there’s also sense that Hynes is going to take off the training wheels very quickly.

Thursday seems like the reward, or the flashing light, for all that good early work. This post will be updated as we wait to see if Hischier can manage that hat trick.

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Look, it’s very, very early.

All we can judge Hischier and the Devils on, right now, is how they’ve played so far … and with each game, this team looks more and more legit. And so does their prized prospect.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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Bruised Bruins get Bergeron and Backes back, at least

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On paper, a game against old chums the Vancouver Canucks would probably be an assumed W for the Boston Bruins.

It hasn’t been safe to assume much during an up-and-down start so far, and that goes straight down to injuries, as Bruins news seems to rotate with the bad and the good.

In the case of Thursday, the good and the bad seem to come in hour rotations rather than days. Earlier, the unfortunate news came: Tuukka Rask was diagnosed with a concussion, adding to the rough news about Ryan Spooner.

If Anton Khudobin struggles and the Bruins need to outscore their problems, at least they’re getting reinforcements in that regard, as both David Backes and Patrice Bergeron are back in action.

One would expect Bergeron to resume much of his puck-mastery tonight, or at least soon, even if he might take a while to improve after a 2016-17 season he wasn’t totally pleased with.

(Bergeron was probably in the minority there, what with winning the Selke Trophy and his line with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak dominating opponents.)

Backes might be most interesting to watch. He reportedly lost 10 lbs. because of diverticulitis, so you wonder if he’ll be limited for a while. He’s trying to bounce back from 2016-17 in a more objective way than Bergeron, after all.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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Bruins turn to Khudobin after Rask diagnosed with concussion

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A bad start to the season officially got worse on Thursday as the Boston Bruins announced that Tuukka Rask has been diagnosed with a concussion.

The 30-year-old netminder collided with Anders Bjork during practice on Wednesday and needed to be helped off the ice. Anton Khudobin will start Thursday night against the Canucks and Zane MacIntyre will serve as his backup.

The Bruins are 2-3-0 on the season with a minus-4 goal differential. Rask has struggled as well with an ugly .887 even strength save percentage in four starts. With four games over the next 11 days, the hope is that either Khudobin or MacIntyre can right the ship as Rask heals.

“I feel good. Camp was good and everything is fine, and I’ve started better than last year,” said Khudobin via NBC Sports Boston. “My role is just day-to-day. Today is a game day and hopefully, you get a good result, and then tomorrow is another new day.”

As the Bruins get David Backes and possibly Patrice Bergeron back, they’ve watched as Rask and Ryan Spooner (4-6 weeks) leave the lineup with injury. Having a roster in flux while you’re trying to find some consistency will be a tough ask for head coach Bruce Cassidy and his players.

The 31-year-old Khudobin has played well in two appearances this season, stopping 32 of 33 shots faced and posting a .970 ESSV%.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Ric Flair replica robe awarded to Flyers game MVPs (Photo)

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NHL teams love handing out a player of the game awards to someone who played an important role in a victory. The tradition has been going on for years and the items have ranged from football helmets to camouflage jackets to championship belts to wolf heads to weenie hats.

The Philadelphia Flyers are one of those teams taking part in the post-game tradition and have chosen a very unique item to honor game MVPs this season.

In honor of one of wrestling’s greats, game MVPs will receive a Ric Flair replica robe.

Spend time inside Wells Fargo Center for a Flyers game and you’ll hear fans unleashing plenty of Flair’s famous “woo’s” — something that kind of pissed off the players as recent as last season..

“I hope it’s a short-lived fad,” said Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol last November.

“The first period they are [expletive] woo’ing. What are you, [expletive] 10-years old?,” opined Jakub Voracek.

Maybe the players had a change of heart and have embraced the “woo’s?” Now that the robe, which was designed by the daughter of equipment manager Derek Settlemyre, will be a regular thing, one can imagine an uptick in the “Nature Boy’s” famous call done by fans during games.

Flair, 68, was hospitalized in August as he entered the early stages of kidney failure and congestive heart failure. He was released last month after doctors removed part of his bowel and inserted a pacemaker. An ESPN documentary about his life and wrestling career will premier in November.

Stick-tap NBC Philadelphia

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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