After their performance in Game 1 with a 4-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, many of us believed we’d see more of the same in Game 2; and we did.. just not on our end. The Toronto Maple Leafs fought Boston’s fire with water and they let their guard down big time after Game 1. It’s easy to forget that despite the team not making the playoffs since 2004, there are still players on the Leafs with past playoff experience (coincidentally those are the only Leafs who have scored in this series.).
But the Boston Bruins had quite a few factors going against them in Game 2. For starters, the team was with out their best puck battling and pinching defenceman in Andrew Ference. Despite his major up and downs all season, he came alive in Game 1 and his constant pinching and buck battling helped keep the Bruins sustained pressure game running on all cylinders. Having to break up the strong defence pairing of Game 1 in order to make the adjustments for Game 2 was a huge factor that cannot be over looked. If anything the coaching staff needs to keep a lot of it together but now when and where to shake it up and mix players.
Say for example:
Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg are frequently paired up with one another during the post-season and in Game 1 the two of them combined for a pretty strong defence tandem. That duo, without a doubt, needs to stay together during 5-on-5 play. But on the powerplay it wouldn’t hurt to put Chara with old time partner Wade Redden and cycle out a system of Ference – Boychuk or McQuaid - Sides for the 2nd unit.
Speaking of the powerplay, things have been looking good but the team is still failing to put the puck in the back of the net when up a man. A good solution for this to tie the hottest guys together. On the first powerplay unit it should be Jagr – Bergeron – Horton with Redden and Chara on the back. Bergeron is a great face off man and puck battler and Jagr can easily move in and around the 4 opposing players on the ice and dish it to Nathan Horton who always knows how to be in the right place at the right time when it comes to scoring (Game 5 against Montreal, Game 7 against Tampa and Game 1 against the Leafs). The second unit can be Lucic/Marchand – Krejci – Seguin; Lucic has been coming out of his shell lately and his big body can be thrown to stop a clearing attempt or to move the puck and Seguin and Krejci are great at setting up plays from the back of the net to the front and with Ference, Seidenberg, McQuaid and Boychuk rotating at the blue line, these three will definitely screen the net to get a good tip in.
But all of this line shaking and mixing up could be all for not, because there is still one major factor the Boston Bruins need to get under control. Do Not Lose Your Cool
In Game 1 the Bruins did very well not buying into the Leafs chippy antics (until the last buzzer when Komarov and Kelly exchanged solid punches). They need to keep it up for Game 3 and bait the Leafs the same way they’ve been trying to bait the Bruins. If they can do that and get the Leafs into 5-on-4 or 5-0n-3 situations the Bruins can capitalize and bring this series to a close in 5 for the Black and Gold. If it means getting in front of the net and taking a few slashes on the leg to draw a slashing call, do it. If it means they don’t fight back in a scrum and let the Leafs get the punches in, then do it. If they wanna play that kind of game, the Bruins can show them that two can play at the game.
There is still much that can be improved for the Bruins, but it just needs to start with putting together the best puck moving lines up front and best pressure lines in the back. Wear and grind the Leafs down, trap them in their zone, roll out the scorers and light them up. The Bruins know the kind of game they need to play, it’s time to tilt the ice and remember what you are in it for.