Bruins

Bruins can take positives from Game 1 win, but lineup questions remain

Bruins

There's a cliché about needing your best players to be your best players. With one exception, that's why the Bruins beat the Hurricanes in Game 1 of their first round series.

The exception was David Pastrnak's horrid turnover on the power play to give Carolina a shorthanded goal, but let's focus on the positives: The Bergeron line scored two goals — including the game-winner in double overtime — in a game they played mostly against perhaps the most dangerous line in the league right now. Their performance will make headlines, but David Krejci was the best player on the ice.

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If the Bruins get dominance out of their top six and the usual performances from their back end and goaltending, they'll be good enough to beat the Hurricanes in a series. Philly? Tampa? Different story, but if the Bergeron line outplays the Aho line and Krejci is able to carry Jake DeBrusk and Ondrej Kase, we can at least quell our concerns about the B's being upset in the first round.

If DeBrusk or Kase bury the chances Krejci created for them, the Bruins will at least have a second line, which remains a major, major question for them. The third line needs some work (more on that below; guess who needs to sit?), but Bruins fans should be very encouraged by what they saw from Boston's top six.

If they build on what we saw Wednesday, the Bruins are in business. Then maybe we can ask for other things, like a power play that actually has a pulse. 

 

Beware, though, before we put our Paul Pierce hats on and declare the series over after a game: The Bergeron line smoked Tampa's Brayden Point line in Game 1 of the second round a couple years ago, then Point went off for the rest of the series as the B's fell in five games. That's to say this: This series isn't over.

BRUINS NEEDED THIS ONE

The Bruins obviously stunk up the joint during the round robin and were hardly apologetic afterwards. If they came out, carried the play in the first game of the playoffs, blew a lead in the third period then lost in overtime? Hoo boy.

Led by young stars, the Hurricanes are better served to physically bounce back from a long game like Game 1. Had Carolina found a way to win, they might have the Bruins already on their heels. Plus, both we — and the Bruins themselves, deep down — would be wondering if they'd be able to snap out of their post-return slump.

LOOKING AHEAD: 2 Us, 2 Ks, 2 PLAY OR NOT 2 PLAY?

The Hurricanes didn't have Sami Vatanen or Justin Williams for Game 1, as the players were given the blanket "unfit to participate" designation teams are using for everything. The big absence there was Vatanen, who'd been a top pairing defensemen for them until Dougie Hamilton returned to the lineup Wednesday. Hamilton's return was supposed to put Carolina over the top on the back end, and if Vatanen can play Wednesday, Carolina will boast a stronger lineup than we saw in Game 1.

The Bruins have two lineup questions they should be asking themselves: Does Tuukka Rask play a back-to-back that included double overtime and should Nick Ritchie sit?

Let's answer the easy one first: Ritchie's got to sit. He was passive the entire game, which cost the Bruins twice. He certainly isn't there for his speed or skill, so if he's gonna be such an easy beat in puck battles, he does nothing but harm the team. Put Karson Kuhlman in the lineup and flip Anders Bjork to the other side if need be.

As for Rask, Bruce Cassidy said after Game 1 that he didn't feel Boston's goalie was overly taxed Wednesday, and that with not having to travel, it would be much easier to play a goalie on a back-to-back than in non-bubble times. I get that, but I'd still go with Jaroslav Halak considering there's another potential back-to-back in Games 5 and 6.

You'd definitely want to go Rask in both games there, so split this one up if you're really planning on making a deep run.