Faced with the possibility of taking a commanding 3-1 series lead and maybe getting a chance to eliminate the Washington Capitals on home ice in game four, the Boston Bruins instead relapsed into their bad old habits and turned in a thoroughly frustrating 2-1 loss. The series now stretches to at least six games, with the time of game six on April 22 still to be determined.
This game was marked–or marred–by mistakes and missing players.
- Let’s check in on the members of the 20+ goals club from the regular season and see how well they’ve translated that production into the playoffs. Tyler Seguin: 29 goals in regular season, 0 in playoffs. Brad Marchand: 28 goals in regular season, 0 in playoffs. Milan Lucic: 26 goals in regular season, 0 in playoffs. David Krejci: 23 goals in regular season, 0 in playoffs. Patrice Bergeron: 22 goals in regular season, 0 in playoffs. Chris Kelly: 20 goals in regular season, 1 in playoffs. None of these guys have done a very good job of staying prolific. I’m not asking for these games to be the double-digit scoring bonanzas of the Pittsburgh-Philadelphia games. I’m just asking for guys who were good in the regular season to live up to basic expectations of scoring now that the stakes are even higher. Apart from Kelly, all of these guys are on the top two forward lines, but they’re not performing like top-six players. Krejci seems to just have bad luck in this postseason: first the pane of glass, now the fact that he was a few inches away from being the Clint Malarchuk of the Internet era. The one exception is Rich Peverley, a top-liner, who scored tonight’s only Bruins goal.
- Scoring goals, though, would also require the Bruins to be effective in front of Braden Holtby. The picture above exemplifies what is wrong with the Bruins’ scoring chances. They’re positively peppering Holtby with shots on goal–there were 45 in this game to Washington’s 21–but they’re going about it all wrong. Most of the shots are taken by one guy coming in alone, shooting from the point right at Holtby. When Holtby doesn’t catch those and freeze them right away, he does tend to give up pretty juicy rebound chances. The Bruins, though, were unable to work on those effectively. No one was in the right place to sweep up the rebounds and no one was screening Holtby either. If he can see every shot, that makes saves so much easier for him.
- NESN’s Douglas Flynn wondered if Capitals brass speaking out publicly helped shape the tone of this game. (That article is a great read, by the way.) This one did seem much calmer than game three. No one seemed passionate, frustrated or upset enough to try to fight for a win, even and especially when trailing–they were even outhit by the Caps. Sometimes the Bruins benefit from the momentum shift a fight can bring, but that was a non-issue in this game.
- Also a non-issue in this game due to its ineffectiveness: the Bruins power play. They are now the only team in this postseason bunch to have no power play goals in the playoffs so far. Man advantage? More like two-minute disadvatage.
This weekend will be a big one for the Bruins. Game five will be back at home on April 21, a 3 p.m. NBC matinee. Game six, though, is going to be in Washington on April 22 at a time to be determined. This is the only back-to-back of the playoffs. Both of these games could be matinees. Matinees and back-to-backs have been challenging for the Bruins in the regular season–and they lost the only matinee game so far in the playoffs–so who knows what could happen this weekend?