by Bob Morello
Bruins lack execution
Three games into the second round of the playoffs, the Bruins have showed that their special team’s play is subpar to that of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Overall they’ve thrown 105 shots in those three games at Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, he has stopped 99 of them. A ‘hot’ goaltender for sure, but the fact that all three games have been decided by a single goal, puts an exclamation point on how important it is for the Bs to be effective and execute on the power play. Coming into tonight’s (Thursday) Game Four, the Bruins have only scored one time in ten power play attempts. This is surprising because the Boston power play in the first round versus Toronto Maple Leafs, was able to hit the back of the Toronto net on seven of the 16 opportunities.
Columbus netminder Bobrovsky has been ‘hot,’ (1.88 goals-against-average and a .943 save-percentage), but by the same token, the Bruins in Game Three continue to be ineffective on the power play, including Tuesday’s 0-2 showing in the 2-1 loss, while CBJ have capitalized on three of their 11 chances. The inability to maintain the physical aspect of play was also evident in the numbers, which showed Columbus having outhit the locals by a 53 to 28 margin. Playing a physical game is a necessity versus Columbus whose lineup includes speed and toughness from a number of players in their lineup.
The ringing in the ears of the Boston bench signaled missed opportunities for the Bs as they rang three shots off the posts behind Bobrovsky, the first by Charlie McAvoy who played a standout game, and twice in the third when Noel Acciari struck the pipe and Brandon Carlo’s shot which hit the crossbar. Boston’s failure to execute on the power play was combined with their inability to clear the puck out of their end in a second period penalty kill, leading to the eventual game-winner by Matt Duchene.
A major concern for Boston is obviously the lack of scoring from their top line (Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak), which coming into tonight’s game has contributed one point, that coming on a Pastrnak goal earlier in this round. The decision by Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy to drop the stagnant Pastrnak down to the third line also proved to be ineffective, and he was eventually returned to first line status at the start of the third period.
Resilient, regarding the Bruins’ team – is a word that has been thrown around often during the regular season. Now in these playoffs the team must once again seek to find more of it as they enter Game Four. Overlooked during the tight one-goal games Boston has had in this second round, is the play of Tuukka Rask, who has been solid in net, giving the Bs a chance to win every game. If the Bruins wish to silence any of the outrageous blasts of Columbus’ obnoxious cannon, fired each time Columbus scores a goal in Nationwide Arena, they will need to blast more pucks by Bobrovsky. Something that can be achieved by creating more traffic in front of Bobrovsky’s net, and possibly forcing him to move from side to side more often. Sounds simple doesn’t it?
A good, strong effort by the Bruins in Game Four could turn this series around, as a Boston win would tie the series at 2-2 – and make this a best-of-three matchup, with the Bs once again having ‘home advantage, with two of the three remaining games being hosted by the locals at TD Garden. Game Five will be on Garden ice, Saturday (5/4 at 7:15pm). Game Six (if necessary) would mean a return to Columbus’ Nationwide Arena, Monday (5/6 time TBD), with Game Seven (if necessary) hosted by the Bruins, Wednesday (5/8 time TBD). It could possibly take seven games for a winner to be determined, but at this point the Bruins can only play one game at a time – and if they perform with the resilience and determination they’ve shown this entire regular season, they could emerge with a positive result!