Talking Points: Second-guessing Bruins' shootout decision


Talking Points: Second-guessing Bruins' shootout decision

GOLD STAR: While it took a while for the Bruins to get going, Patrice Bergeron was one of the players that didn’t stop playing for the Black and Gold. It was his power-play goal in the second period that started to turn things moving in the right direction, and he continued that level of play with a no-look pass to Brad Marchand for the game-tying score in the third period. Bergeron finished with a goal and two points in 22:08 of ice time with four shots on net, a hit, a takeaway and managed to win 13-of-27 draws while doing yeoman’s work at both ends of the ice. It’s a shame that Bergeron was never able get involved in the shootout after Kenny Agostino and Brad Marchand were the first two guys to come down the pipe.

BLACK EYE: Kenny Agostino played just five minutes in the shootout loss to the Blue Jackets, but somehow he managed to be one of the two shooters that Bruce Cassidy was able to get out on the ice before Columbus iced the shootout win. That means Agostino was going to be one of Boston’s top three shooters over either Patrice Bergeron or David Pastrnak, and that is a choice that leaves plenty of room for second-guessing. Agostino might be a lights out shootout/penalty shot specialist in the AHL and he may have been impressive in practice, or perhaps it was more of a hunch from Cassidy that he would come through. Whatever it was, hopefully it’s the last time we see the career AHL winger get selected over Boston’s top-tier offensive players in their next shootout.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins came on strong in the third period and scored a pair of goals to wipe out the Columbus advantage, and push things into the extra session. It was goals from Torey Krug and Brad Marchand that ended up tying things up after Boston’s horrid start, and gave the Bruins an impressive finishing kick that showed some heart and character. It wasn’t completely dominant from the B’s as it was a 9-9 shot count in the final 20 minutes, but the Bruins were very clearly exerting some pressure on the Blue Jackets.

HONORABLE MENTION: Zdeno Chara didn’t factor into the scoring, but he did make a clear statement that the first period wasn’t acceptable when he stepped up and dropped the gloves with Josh Anderson at the start of the second period. He was targeted with a number of hits in his final shift of the first period, so he was pretty surly to start the second as the rest of his teammates should have been as well. Chara leveled Anderson behind the Boston net to start the trouble, and then finished things with the fight against another mammoth player on the other roster. In all Chara finished with seven shot attempts, a hit and a couple of blocked shots in 24:08 of ice time.

BY THE NUMBERS: 29:19 – the total ice time for workhorse defenseman Charlie McAvoy against a heavy, physical Blue Jackets bunch as the rookie continues to take on more and more responsibility for the Black and Gold.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “I don’t think we’re a team that’s going to win too many games if we don’t have all 20 guys going, and I don’t think that was the case pretty early on.” – Bruce Cassidy, to NESN on his assessment of the ghastly start for the B’s in their eventual 4-3 shootout loss.


Bean: Bruins created a monster that could end their season

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Bean: Bruins created a monster that could end their season

It goes without saying that you should never let a team linger. The Bruins did that with the Maple Leafs, and here we are. Game 7 will be played on Wednesday. 

The longer a series goes, the more likely it becomes that one of many variables will work against you: The other goalie will get hot, one of your guys will get hurt or, most frustrating of all, you'll get unlucky. 

The Bruins let the series go longer than necessary with questionable coaching decisions and poor goaltending in Game 5. They lost that game. Now, they've created a monster: An inferior roster with a bad defense is about to knock them out of the playoffs if they aren't careful.  

MORE BRUINS: Bruins fail to finish off Leafs again, lose 3-1

Take the second period of Game 6. It was a complete reversal of fortune from Games 1 and 4. Whereas the Bruins were dominated in the second periods of those games but still emerged with a lead, they experienced the opposite Monday. 

The period, which the teams entered scoreless, started with three quick strikes, one from Boston and two from Toronto. The second Leafs goal, which came as a result of a poor clearing attempt from Charlie McAvoy, was overturned when it was determined that Zach Hyman interfered with Tuukka Rask.

From there, it was all Bruins. Were it not for strong goaltending from the either hot or freezing Frederik Andersen, they could have potted multiple goals. Instead, the game's next goal came when Brad Marchand couldn't clear a blocked point shot and Torey Krug left Mitch Marner all alone in the high slot. Marner pounced on the puck and backhanded it past a not-quick-enough Tuukka Rask to give the Leafs the lead. 

The Bruins nearly doubled up the Leafs in possession in that period. It was all Boston. But the other goalie was good and the B's were unlucky. That's hockey. It's just frustrating when "that's hockey" happens in a game that didn't need to be played. 

So now the Bruins face elimination. I don't expect them to lose, but they could. You never know. The variables, the "that's hockey" thing, etc. 

Bruce Cassidy has made non-injury related changes in each of the last two games. In Game 5, he changed his bottom two defensive pairs and changed his top pairing's deployment to disastrous results. Game 6 saw him scratch Danton Heinen in for of Tommy Wingels and demote Rick Nash to the third line. 

The new line of David Krejci between Jake DeBrusk and Wingels generated a goal, but the third line of Riley Nash between Rick Nash and David Backes once again yielded fruitless 5-on-5 play from Rick Nash.

Backes turned in his sixth even-strength disappearing act in as many games. Cassidy's next move should be to put Ryan Donato in the lineup.

The rookie was not impressive in his lone game this series (Game 2), but the Bruins need scoring.

Then again, Cassidy, like most coaches, is generally hesitant to give a young player the keys. He trusts what he knows. He also likely knows he's not getting enough from some of his regulars. 

There's little-to-no chance Cassidy would sit Nash or Backes unless they were hurt. Wingels is the most obvious candidate to come back out of the lineup since Boston's fourth line is too good to be disrupted. 

But this is not where the Bruins thought they would be. They didn't think that they, one of the three best teams in the NHL during the regular season, would be looking for answers entering the seventh game of the first round. 

But here they are. The Leafs, armed with a hot goaltender and the best hockey coach on the planet, are ready to complete an upset on Wednesday. It shouldn't happen, but a sixth game wasn't supposed to, either.


Bruins fail to finish off Leafs again, lose 3-1

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Bruins fail to finish off Leafs again, lose 3-1

TORONTO – Once again the Bergeron Line was held off the scoresheet and once again that meant a playoff loss for the Boston Bruins.

The top line had 23 shot attempts and a handful of scoring chances, but the Toronto defense and Freddie Andersen held them in check while the Leafs scored a goal with them on the ice in a 3-1 win in Game 6 at the Air Canada Centre.

The Bruins have lost two straight chances to close Toronto out early in the best-of-seven series and now it will come down to a Game 7 on Wednesday night at TD Garden for the right to play Tampa Bay in the next round of the playoffs.

After a scoreless first period where the teams were feeling each other out, the offensive flurries kicked up in the second period for both hockey clubs. Jake DeBrusk scored his third goal of the postseason just over a minute into the period when he snapped home a shot from the high slot off an offensive zone face-off win from David Krejci. It was just the third even-strength goal for Krejci’s line in this entire series and one that was absolutely needed in this game.

Unfortunately, they weren’t joined by any of the other three forward lines on the score sheet.

Instead, the Leafs scored 35 seconds later to tie things up and immediately take the momentum back away from the Black and Gold. Nazem Kadri fired a long-range shot that Tuukka Rask kicked out for a rebound, and the puck went right to a wide open William Nylander in front for his first goal of the postseason.

It appeared that Toronto had scored again a short time later to take the lead on a Zach Hyman goal, but a good Bruins challenge overturned the score after it was determined Hyman interfered with Rask prior to scoring.

The score stayed deadlocked for most of the second period until a misstep by Boston’s top line opened up a chance that the Leafs stepped right into. Brad Marchand couldn’t corral a loose puck in the middle of the slot after a partially blocked shot, and instead Mitch Marner snatched it away and snapped a backhanded bid past Rask for the go-ahead score.