For all intents and purposes, you could argue the Boston Bruins very well should have won Game 1 of their conference semifinals series against the Montreal Canadiens. Likewise, you could just as much claim they should’ve lost Game 2.
Thursday’s opening game featured chances galore that went by the wayside for Boston. Pucks missed their mark, hit the post, or just plain weren’t shot at the opportune moment. As a result, the Bruins fell in double overtime, blaming a lot of the loss on “puck luck.”
In Game 2, it was more of the same. A lot of openings resulted in nothing but groans from the Boston crowd. The Canadiens had a 3-1 lead midway through the third, one they put together due mostly to continued success from their power play. However, as they did in Game 1, the Bruins erased the deficit with a third period surge, only this time they were able to complete the rally, winning 5-3 and heading north of the border with a tied series.
That said, as triumphant as the team must’ve felt after Saturday’s thrilling comeback, Boston still has a lot of work to do if they want to prevail in this series.
First of all, they can’t keep letting such great scoring chances go by the wayside. You can say it’s just the way the puck bounces, but at the same time Boston still appears to be waiting one second too many when it comes to putting a shot on net. It was prevalent all through Game 1, and appeared numerous times again in Game 2 before the third period outpouring. Whether or not they’re trying to be too fancy or just plain overthinking, it’s still something that needs to be addressed coming into Game 3 tomorrow.
One of the bigger concerns the Bruins need to get fixed, though, is their suddenly struggling penalty kill. After only allowing two power play goals in 20 chances against the Detroit Red Wings in the opening round, Boston has given up four goals on nine Montreal man-advantages this series. The penalties are going to come at a pretty frequent clip any time these teams lace up, and the Canadiens have looked incredibly fluid on the power play. P.K. Subban and Thomas Vanek are becoming flat-out deadly once the Bruins send somebody to the penalty box. Simply put, Montreal has scored seven goals in two games, and over half of them are from the power play. If this isn’t proof Boston desperately needs to improve their penalty kill, I don’t know what is.
With this series heading to Montreal, the Bruins need to fix these and other issues as quickly as possible. The Bell Centre is easily one of the most difficult arenas in the entire NHL to play in, and if the Canadiens go up early, the Montreal faithful are going to be louder than ever. The Bruins are lucky the problems they’ve run into during the first two games of this series haven’t put them in an 0-2 hole. If they don’t get them corrected soon, though, the ice could quickly start tilting for the Canadiens.