The Boston Bruins almost blew a 3-1 series lead the other night. Thankfully, they pulled out the win in Game 7 and continue their quest for the cup. However, there are a handful of holes and inconsistencies that need fixing against Tampa.
After a subpar last week of the regular season, the Boston Bruins found themselves second in the Atlantic and set to face the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round. Many, including myself, figured this series was the closest “toss-up” of the first round and bound to go six or seven games.
So, it should not have been a surprise when the series did, in fact, reach a Game 7. However, it was the fashion in which the Bruins made it to the seventh game that is a little worrisome.
I do believe Tuukka Rask‘s play this series was up and down and could be better. Yes, he absolutely needs to be at the top of his game going up against the players like Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov. However, this topic is so heavily discussed, let’s take a look at the team in front of him and how they almost blew a 3-1 series lead.
The Importance of the Top Line
If the Bruins’ top line comes to play, then the Bruins have a very good chance of winning the game. That is something we saw throughout the year and was extremely evident in this series. Going into Game 7, this line combined for six goals and 23 points in the Bruins three wins. They had zero goals and zero assists in their three losses with a combined -16 rating. In Game 7, the trio totaled seven points. Result? Series-clinching win.
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David Pastrnak is currently tied for the team lead in goals with five. His obvious record-breaking start to the post-season played a huge impact in Boston taking a strong 2-0 hold on the Leafs. Then there was the on and off disappearing act of him and his linemates, Patrice Bergeron, and Brad Marchand. These three must come ready to play next series and get on the scoresheet. A team simply cannot have their three regular-season point leaders go dark in the playoffs and expect to win.
Finding the Back of the Net
David Pastrnak hit half as many posts this series than he had all regular season. He also has missed more shots than almost anyone else in the league in the first round of the playoffs. He is the prime example of the difference not finishing certain opportunities can make come playoff time. Frederik Andersen may have played exceptional in games three through six, but Boston stilled had their chances to score and put away this series. They didn’t.
As a team, they outshot Toronto 120-81 in the three games the Leafs actually won. Shots on goal didn’t seem to be the problem, but it was finding the back of the net that Boston struggled with on and off throughout the series. Something they cannot let happen against a Vezina finalist in Vasilevskiy.
Defensive Holes and Turnovers
The theme of the first two periods of Game 7 was turnovers. It was hard to watch players in the defensive zone and around center-ice continue to just turn it over. Game 7 was not the first time poor decisions or turnovers cost the Bruins. Throughout the entire series, turnovers led to Toronto fast breaks, offensive chances, and goals.
Yes, Auston Matthews may have been held to just one goal the entire series. But, others, like Mitch Marner, were able to shine and put some serious pressure on Boston throughout the series. Tampa Bay has even more firepower and will definitely take advantage of these defensive breakdowns.
The second round will be another tough test for Boston. These inconsistencies need to be taken care of across the board. The Lightning have had plenty of rest. Let’s hope the Bruins do not regret letting Toronto hang around instead of closing them out a week ago.