So two teams walk into the Scotiabank Arena to play a hockey game…. There’s no real punchline other than the Bruins game was postponed after the Lightning and Blue Jackets played five overtimes.
To make light of the Boston Bruins’ round-robin performance would be to really dismiss how poorly they played. The NHL, well all sports teams really, are still trying to adjust to the conditions set up in compliance to COVID. But I would like to counter with the argument that your performance on the ice shouldn’t really be affected by a disease when they have the most consistent negative test results among the four major sports. Now my question, with the first round of playoffs having begun, what is the Bruins excuse going to be if they fall?
For the past week or so, the NHL round robin tournament surprised me. The Philadelphia Flyers really showed their true colors and broke out to finish as the #1 seed. The Bruins fell to the Flyers in the first game 4-1. After everything, we ended up the 4th seed, now playing the Carolina Hurricanes in the first round.
Nerves? That’s the Other Team’s Problem
Am I nervous for the Bruins long-term? Not really, well it depends on who shows up to play in Games 2 and 3. Is Brad Marchand nervous? Not in the slightest. “What we’ve gone through the last four games, it doesn’t really mean anything,” Marchand said. Um, I can agree with the fact that they don’t mean a whole lot, but they could have at least played like they were at least interested in being the #1 or #2 seed. Sure, they were still guaranteed a spot in the playoff bracket, but like guys…we’re not playing for funsies anymore.
Game 1 really allowed the Bruins to showcase their laziness. Although they got the win in double overtime, their fundamentals with passing and using the body was not up to par. The young guys on the team like Ondrej Kase and Nick Ritchie, don’t seem to be playoff ready as their chemistry and speed are not there yet. Kase recorded about 22 minutes in ice time with a holding penalty to complement. Ritchie played about 15 minutes and did absolutely nothing with it. But hey, there’s always the next game. That is, if they let him in the locker room.
Once upon a time when the Bruins were 44-14-12, they actually played their ass off but also made their wins look easy. The Bruins actually played Carolina back in December where they shut them out 2-0 at the Garden. Considering that was the only time they faced off in the regular season, they went home with the win. Believe it or not, the playoffs are more important than the regular season in December. Perfection is expected. And nobody CC’d the Bruins on that email, I guess.
It’s Not About How Hard You Fall Down…
As a Bruins fan, I do want them to win the Stanley Cup, but on the same token does it make sense? The answer is yes. Given their regular season dominance and coaching style to be fast-paced and physical, it really gives the Bruins some diversity. You got veteran guys like Chara, Bergeron and Marchand who know how to lay the body and hustle. I do like Chara’s style of play, however. He does this thing sometimes when he skates to the puck and just decides to fall down and rest for a bit. I love that for our captain. Who doesn’t love a good laugh watching a 6’9” defenseman trip and fall over nothing? Speed is a young man’s game and we have enough youth to go around.
Charlie McAvoy, Matt Grzelcyk and Jake Debrusk should really be on their toes as they got a few looks in last year’s playoffs. This year, the past two games they’ve been under utilized but also haven’t really done much to contribute.
Going forward, the Bruins really need to do the thing when they have more shots on goal than the other team, some shots should be actual goals. The B’s outshot Carolina 40-28 in game 1, but the Canes were honestly more offensively sound. I think it goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway and exhaust the conversation. Patrice Bergeron is the best leader for an NHL team that has never been named captain. Granted, he wears the “A” on his jersey, his talent and leadership is far greater than Chara’s and should be recognized as such. Bergeron has recorded 4 career overtime goals in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Pros and Cons
Carolina’s speed is something that Boston simply cannot overlook in Game 3. The Canes’ Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov certainly have the skating and stick skills that could slice through the Bruins D at any given moment. I’m not gonna lie, I was born in 1998 and Svechnikov was born in 2000, so it really makes me wonder where I got lost on the path to the pros. But at least my team won’t get bounced by the Bruins two years in a row, whether I’m 19 or 22.
When you watch the Bruins play in their zone, most shots are ricocheted off the goalies pad. Or they’re at least down low when crashing the net. It’s good that these shots are going in, but cycling the puck for slap shots and one-timers seems to be a struggle. David Pastrnak is probably the superstar of the Bruins, but making weak passes that result in breakaway goals? Nah, that ain’t it chief. He’s a two-way player I guess, but for someone who led the NHL with 48 goals, there is still room for error. I know that nobody’s perfect, but you gotta look around and see who’s pressing and even how the other team’s set up before you telegraph a pass that’s intercepted.
The forecheck of the Bruins need to be tighter. Plain and simple. Giving Carolina a chance on offense to breakout is just not something Bruce Cassidy should allow. Whether it’s Charlie Coyle or Marchand, whoever; the pressure needs to be on from end to end.
Dear God, please give me the strength to not lose my mind when talking about the Bruins powerplay failures. Boston capitalized on all zero of the four power plays they were on in Game 1. I guess the only good thing you can say is that they’re consistent…there’s no eye roll emoji to use but pretend it’s there. If I had a dollar for every shot on net the Bruins have had on their power plays thus far, I’d probably end up owing money. Boston plays their powerplay with a man down. What? They actually have a one-man advantage? Could have fooled me. There is no pressure, pass accuracy and even utilizing the fact that they HAVE AN EXTRA GUY ON THE ICE FOR AT LEAST 2 MINUTES! Okay, I’m calm. I’m calm.
It’s All Fun and Games Until It Isn’t
Tuukka Rask made the biggest mistake he could during an interview after game 2 on Thursday. He referred to this series and playoffs as “fun” and that we’ll see what happens. Excuse me? If Rask is in on some sort of sportsbook that he’s taking the over on Carolina, then I want in. But until that’s proven, he’s gotta wake up and realize this is the NHL Playoffs. Fans don’t fight each other in the nosebleed sections because they have nothing to do during the postseason. They do it because they’re passionate and maybe because someone spilled a beer on them. It’s happened to me and I don’t want to talk about it.
These games mean something and I think the Bruins are a day late and a dollar short when it comes to preparation for this round of playoffs. You had three games to get the rust off and try and coordinate the lines and chemistry. Rask clearly has no intensity when it comes to playing and if you have not faith in your goalie in stopping the puck, who the hell can you count on?
What’s the crack for game 3? I want to hear all predictions. Do the Bruins show up to play? Are they going to live stream a game of NHL on Twitch instead? Who knows? Certainly not me. I think it’s important to be cautiously optimistic in this series because Boston flips a coin in between periods to see whether or not they should play well or play like an AHL team. Let me now what you think.
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