BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins looked a step slow, lost too many puck battles and got stuck in their own zone way too often in Game 2 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final, and being down to five defenseman late in the first period was a huge reason for those issues.
B's defenseman Matt Grzelcyk's head was driven into the boards on a scary hit by Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist with less than three minutes to go in the first period. Grzelcyk never returned to the game and went to the hospital for tests, and B's head coach Bruce Cassidy didn't have an update after Boston's 3-2 loss in overtime at TD Garden.
Being down a defenseman against a hungry, physical Blues team aiming to even the series really took its toll on the Bruins. The Blues had a 27-15 edge in shots on goal and a 25-11 advantage in scoring chances from the start of the second period through the end of overtime.
"We tried to not get over-exerted with our shifts and stay out there too long," Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo said. "Tried to change fast and get all five guys moving, but there was definitely those times where you kind of get hemmed, and it becomes difficult at those points."
The B's were pretty much out of gas in the overtime period as the Blues kept the puck in Boston's zone for most of the frame, setting up Carl Gunnarsson's winning shot. Grzelcyk's absence forced the remaining Bruins defenseman to play a lot more ice time than normal.
"We still had energy. I think our team did a good job on wearing them down for the 60 minutes and we knew we had more energy than them going into the overtime," Blues defenseman Joel Edmundson said. "We just laid it all on the line and stuck to our game plan."
Here's a look at the ice time for Bruins defensemen in Game 2 compared with their time on ice per game averages entering Wednesday. Everyone except Carlo played at least two minutes more than their average for the 2019 playoffs.
Charlie McAvoy: 27:00 in G2, 24:10 TOI/G
Torey Krug: 26:00 in G2, 21:41 TOI/G
Zdeno Chara: 25:45 in G2, 22:21 TOI/G
Brandon Carlo: 22:58 in G2, 22:08
Connor Clifton: 16:47 in G2, 13:19 TOI/G
Not only were the Bruins forced to increase the ice time of their remaining D-men, they also lost valuable puck-moving skill, playmaking ability and speed that Grzelcyk brings to the lineup.
"Losing the 16 minutes of Grzelcyk's time, good puck mover, guy that can break down a forecheck when he's on, and that was clearly a strength of theirs tonight and a weakness of ours, breaking pucks out," Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said.
"So, that's where we missed him the most I felt like. Getting back on pucks, he's pretty good at quick skate move, a good clean pass. Getting our forwards going through the neutral zone is a strength of our game, so we lost some of that element and I think it showed."
The good news for the Bruins is they have extra time to rest because Game 3 in St. Louis isn't until Saturday. The B's certainly could use the additional time off after two very physical games to begin this Cup Final.
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