As exciting as Game 4 was for anyone watching, it was a step back for the Boston Bruins.
Losing to the Chicago Blackhawks in another overtime thriller, Boston allowed too many early mistakes to bite them. Despite mounting several valiant comebacks, the Bruins just couldn’t net the crucial game-winner.
Unfortunately, and albeit surprisingly based on their recent play coming into Game 4, the Boston blue line is one of the biggest reasons the team faltered last night.
Zdeno Chara, who had been playing as dominantly as a shutdown defenseman can for the past month, had his roughest game of the playoffs. He ended the night with a -3, which is stunning when you consider we’re talking about the best defenseman in the NHL.
Dennis Seidenberg was particularly miserable, as well. Add up some bad pinches and a complete screen of Tuukka Rask‘s view on Brent Seabrook‘s game winning shot, and you get a night to forget for the German vet.
It’s tough not to be disheartened by this. Chara and Seidenberg are Boston’s premiere pair on the back end, commonly lined up against their opponent’s toughest line. In this case, they went up against Chicago’s top line of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Bryan Bickell. You’d like to assume, with their combined experience, that these two Bruins aren’t going to see a line that intimidates them or throws them off their game. However, something was clearly wrong last night.
Rask can’t be psyched with the results of this, as he was left for dead on the majority of the goals he allowed. Coming into Game 4, the Bruins goalie had an aura of invincibility about him, especially with his shutout in Game 3. Now he’s suddenly allowed six goals in one night, and even though he wasn’t at fault for most of them, he now looks human to Chicago.
If the Bruins want to bounce back from this poor display of hockey, it starts on the back end. Boston’s defense cannot afford another night like Game 4. Allowing a talented team like the Blackhawks any sort of ease while they’re in the offensive zone is going to get ugly in a hurry.
Chara and Seidenberg especially, need to clear their heads and get their collective act together. When an opponent scores on players labeled as two of the top shutdown defensemen in hockey, it removes any and all fear. You wouldn’t blame Chicago for assuming, “well, if we can score on Chara, we should be able to score on anybody, right?”
Clearly, this is not the mindset Boston wants their opponent to have. The only way to erase it is to show up for Game 5 and focus on nothing else but restoring the fear. Make Toews, Kane and company second guess their every move any time they take the ice. And most importantly, make sure Rask doesn’t get left in the dust.
The Blackhawks have all the momentum now, with a 2-2 series heading back to Chicago Saturday night. The only way for Boston to right the ship is to bring back the style of play that made them look unstoppable as recently as Game 3.