What’s up everyone? This is Jameson Foley here with my first installment for The BossTown Brand. A brief introduction: I met Mr. Boss 9 years ago while attending Framingham State University and we have been great friends ever since. I have been following the game of hockey and the Boston Bruins my whole life. I have been a referee the past 3 years, so don’t expect any ref criticism here(although it is sometimes deserved!) To me, it is the greatest sport in the world and there is nothing else like it. So, let’s get started.
The Bruins came out flying in Game 1 and earned a huge 6-2 victory in Tampa to steal the home ice advantage away from the Lightning. However, Games 2 and 3 were a much different story. A lot of things went wrong in both games and now the Bruins see themselves down 2-1 in the series with game 4 approaching on Friday.
What went wrong in Game 2?
The Bruins came out extremely flat in Game 2. It took them almost 15 minutes to register their first shot on goal and by that point they found themselves down 1-0 after Yanni Gourde was able to capitalize on the powerplay after Krug took a weak slashing penalty. The Bruins were able to tie the game at 1 before the period ended. In total they were outshot 10-8 in the first period and 31-20 to end the game.
Turnovers. Turnovers. Turnovers. The Bruins turned the puck over 13 times. If they want to beat this Tampa team, they cannot be turning the puck over this much. They need to control the game and they were unable to do so. Marchand had a very bad turnover with a little less than 6 minutes left in the game which led to Tampa taking a 3-1 lead and essentially ending the game. The Bruins need to take better care of the puck if they want to win this series.
The powerplay did not look good. The Bruins went 0-3 on the powerplay for the night including a lengthy 5 on 3 in which they were unable to get the puck in the net. Tampa was one of the worst penalty killing teams during the season and the Bruins need to take advantage of that.
On the bright side, Boston was outplayed in almost every aspect of this game but still found themselves behind by only 1 goal most of the game. They did not play well but still had a chance to win this game. If they can improve on the powerplay and puck control they will be able to pull out a victory in this series.
What went wrong in Game 3?
This was a painful game to watch in all aspects. The Bruins came out as flat as they possibly could and quickly found themselves down 2-0. Tampa is not a team that will relinquish a 2 goal lead no matter how much time is left and last night they proved why they are the #1 seed in the east. Once again, a slow start hindered the Bruins with Tampa dominating the first period outshooting the Bruins 19-14 and taking a 3-1 lead into the dressing room. The Bruins were unable to overcome that deficit and ending up losing game three 4-1. Now the Bruins find themselves down 2-1 in this series.
Andrei Vasilevskiy was one of the best goalies in the league for the entire season. The Bruins were able to score 5 goals on him in Game 1. So, what happened? In Games 2 and 3 Tampa has been making his life too easy. They are blocking shot after shot and keeping the front of the net clear. If the Bruins want to beat Vasilevskiy, they must get people in front of the net. They need to limit his vision with screens and Tampa is not allowing them to do so. Tampa’s defense has stepped up in a big way and that is the reason they find themselves up 2-1 in the series.
Were there any positives to take from last night’s game? To be fair the Bruins played their worst game of the season but entering the third period they were still only down by 2 goals and still had a chance to win this game. They are keeping these games close, but they need to play better if they want to win.
Now we need to talk about Tuukka Rask. People who know me, know that I am probably Tuukka Rask’s biggest fan, but he deserves criticism as well. Tuukka needs to be better. In these last 2 games he has had very bad 1st periods. He is able to make big saves to keep the Bruins in the game but these saves are in the 2nd and 3rd periods while the team is already down. He needs to set the tone early and make these first period saves. They cannot afford to keep falling behind early in these games and Tuukka needs to be the elite goalie he is paid to be.
Keys to game 4:
More intensity. To avoid going down 3-1 heading back to Tampa the Bruins need to win the first period. They cannot come out flat and find themselves behind in the first period again. Tampa has shown, in the last 2 games, that they will not let that happen. The Bruins need to treat this like a Game 7 and come out with the win or go home mentality.
They need to get bodies in front of the net. Tampa has blocked 27 shots in the last 2 games. They are doing a great job at keeping the puck away from the net. The Bruins need to get in front of the net and prevent this. They need to take away Vasilveskiy’s vision to get pucks in the net.
Limit turnovers. Turnovers killed the Bruins in Games 2 and 3. These turnovers gave Tampa a lot of second chances and that offense is not one you want to give second chances to because they will capitalize. If they Bruins want to win they need to keep the puck out of their zone and stop giving away the puck.
Possession. If felt like the lightning controlled much of Game 3 and the Bruins never stood a chance of coming back, which was true. Tampa controlled the puck almost the entire game. They upped their pressure on the forecheck which led to many Boston turnovers. These turnovers never let Boston control the game and it showed. If the Bruins want to win Game 4 and even up this series heading back to Tampa, they need to control the puck and play their game.
Around the NHL:
San Jose vs Vegas
San Jose defeated Vegas 4-0 last night to even up their series at 2 headed back to Vegas. Marc Andre Fleury has been incredible so far this postseason for Vegas but he was out dueled by Martin Jones last night. The teams split their home games but I believe the home teams still have the advantage in the series and Vegas will prevail in a hard fought 7 game series. Game 5 is Friday night in Vegas.
Washington vs Pittsburgh
Washington leads 2-1 over Pittsburgh with game 4 being played tonight in Pittsburgh. The teams split in Washington and after a late Ovechkin goal to give the Caps a 4-3 victory, Washington took a 2-1 series lead. Washington looks to make it 3-1 heading back to Washington with a chance to close it out. Pittsburgh looks to even it up with a victory tonight. If history tells us anything, do not count the Penguins out. The Penguins have eliminated the capitals in each of the last 2 postseasons, so we have a lot of hockey left to play in this series. Could this be the Caps year to beat the Penguins? I believe that it is and the Caps will prevail in 6.
Winnipeg vs Nashville
Winnipeg currently leads the series 2-1 and is looking like the stronger team. After being down 3-0 early in 3 Winnipeg was able to score 4 unanswered goals and pull out a 7-4 victory over the President’s trophy winning Nashville Predators. This series is far from over, but Nashville faces a huge challenge tonight, in Winnipeg, to avoid going down 3-1 in the series. The Jets were the best team on home ice this season boasting a 32-7-2 record in front of their home crowd. The Jets should be able to take care of game 4 on home ice tonight and will take care of the Predators in 6 games. The winner of this series is looking like they will be the front runner to become the Stanley cup champions but anything can happen. Stay tuned.
Editor’s Note: Jameson Foley will be The BossTown Brand’s official specialized contributor for all things Bruins, NHL, and New England Revolution. Foley is a die hard Philadelphia Eagles fan and enjoys watching a Toronto Blue Jays game from time to time. Boston Bruins logo via Chris Creamer and his SportsLogos.net site.