Three of the series in the quarterfinal round of the Stanley Cup playoffs ended in either four or five games–tidy little series, blink and you miss them. The series between the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs is not going to be one of those, as was made immensely clear tonight when they bumbled around the ice for most of the game, had a late surge and yet still fell short 2-1.
Tuukka Rask was legitimately the only reason that this game wasn’t 3-0 by the end of the first period (how’s about that Vezina nod, eh? He’s done this so many times–bailed out the team when they’ve gone cold.) He turned away 19 shots while the Bruins put up just eight–they actually blocked more shots than they took–and spent a lot more time in their own zone than they did trying to make James Reimer‘s life difficult.
Sure, the shots on goal total increased during the second period, but so did the score–for the Maple Leafs, when Tyler Bozak scored on a shorthanded breakaway. Andrew Ference, on the power play point that Wade Redden would normally occupy if he had played, was a step behind Bozak and his defensive flub (not the first time!) helped to create that tally.
Toronto went up two-nothing when Clarke MacArthur scored an unassisted goal. Both Maple Leafs goals tonight had no need for help, by the way. This was during the dreaded third period, when the Bruins tend to be weak, so there wasn’t much cause for hope. For a while there, the team proved their fans’ worries about the final 20 to be correct. Then Zdeno Chara spoiled the shutout, but that was all she wrote.
They also squandered a huge late power play opportunity, including one agonizing moment where the puck had been rebounded out and was sitting there just waiting for someone in black and gold. I think it even stopped moving. But no one went to get it right away and create a scoring chance from it, which was just unforgivable, really. Sure, they spent a lot of that late PP in the offensive zone, but it was mostly just the passing clinic we’ve come to expect from their man advantage.
In the very dying minute of the game, the Bruins did at least try to knot it up a little bit. I have to give some props to Jaromir Jagr for trying, but Reimer just absolutely robbed him.
There were also some flagrant incidences of things that should have been marked as infractions, but weren’t. For example, when David Krejci got held into a headlock right by Reimer’s net for far too long but the official nearby was okay with it. Or when Adam McQuaid was hit behind the net after the whistle–again, totally okay. Why are these things okay? What kind of message does that send? Furthermore, when the Bruins don’t tell the Leafs in no uncertain terms that this stuff isn’t okay, that’s not good either.
It’s a broken record type of thing for me to say Tyler Seguin is so snakebitten that we’ll need to start a Kickstarter just to buy him a goal, but what of Brad Marchand? His stat line was horrible tonight: 16 minutes on ice, but not a single shot on goal to show for it. At least his snakebitten liney took six shots, though that was all for naught as well. Could it be time to let Seguin see the next game from the ninth floor? I mean, he wasn’t even in the lineup at the start of the 2011 playoffs and then had a huge burst when he did get online. Sure, that was two years ago, but I think everyone is getting fed up with his new and innovative ways to miss every shot he takes.
Of course, there are quite a few other guys who could stand to do something, anything, especially since the red-hot first line cooled down a lot tonight. Actually, pretty much any Bruin could stand to do anything good next game. Maybe a lot of them could do good things at once! What a concept.
Perhaps this loss was expected. Maybe it was naive to think that this team might be able to put together three good, strong consecutive games and shut this series down quickly. Either way, this thing’s going back up to Toronto. That might be a good thing because the Bruins won both games up there. But it might be a bad thing if the lousy, lazy team we saw tonight somehow travels up to Canada.
Game six will be on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. National network carriage has yet to be determined.