Bruins

Talking Points from Bruins' 4-1 Game 7 loss to the Blues

Talking Points from Bruins' 4-1 Game 7 loss to the Blues

GOLD STAR: For my money, Alex Pietrangelo should have won the Conn Smythe Trophy rather than Ryan O’Reilly. Pietrangelo scored the winning goal after cruising into the offensive for a backhanded attempt from the slot and played 25 plus minutes of quality hockey for a Blues team that rode him like a workhorse throughout the Stanley Cup Final.

Pietrangelo finished with a goal, two points and a plus-3 in 25:56 of ice time, three shots on net, two hits and four blocked shots while once again finishing as the best D-men on the ice for either team. The Stanley Cup win on his resume and the way he played at the key moments of this series should absolutely raise his profile a bit from the lofty place it already held across the league. Pietrangelo was money in Game 7 for St. Louis.

BLACK EYE: David Pastrnak finished as a minus-7 in the Stanley Cup Final overall and was a zero once again in the biggest game of the series at TD Garden. Pastrnak finished with zero points and a minus-2 to go along with three shots on net and four giveaways and didn’t show up nearly enough in this series against a team that wasn’t afraid to rough him up. 

Certainly, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron deserve criticism as well for not stepping up and producing when the team needed them to most in the biggest game of the postseason. But Pastrnak never really got going in these playoffs and truthfully never fully regained his mojo after injuring his thumb toward the end of the regular season.

TURNING POINT: There’s no doubting it was Brad Marchand turning over a puck in the final few moments of the second period and then watching as the Blues ended up scoring with the Pietrangelo backhander with less than 10 seconds remaining in the first period.

That back-breaking goal gave the Blues a 2-0 lead headed into the first intermission and truly killed Boston’s chances of making it a game once St. Louis opted to pack it in defensively starting in the second period. The Bruins truthfully never recovered from that gut punch after controlling play in the first and failing to score on 11 shots on net against Jordan Binnington.

HONORABLE MENTION: Binnington was shaky in parts of the Stanley Cup Final and he looked like he’d cracked under the pressure in the third period of Game 6 when he allowed three goals in a 5-1 loss. Binnington was fighting the puck very early in Game 7, but gained confidence as the Bruins couldn’t fight their way to the front of the net for any of the rebounds that the Blues goaltender was giving up.

Then. Binnington made saves on Marchand and David Krejci on Boston's first-period power play and that was it for the Blues goalie. He stopped 32 of 33 shots, including a massive save on Joakim Nordstrom in the third period that directly preceded the third goal of the game for St. Louis. Once that two-goal swing happened it was all over for the Bruins and Binnington had outplayed Tuukka Rask in a Game 7 where it all mattered.

BY THE NUMBERS: 0 – The number of points from the Perfection Line (Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak) in a Game 7 where Boston’s best players needed to step up if the Bruins were hoping to win.  

QUOTE TO NOTE: “Devastated.” –A very quiet Charlie McAvoy asked to describe his emotions after being 60 minutes away from his lifelong goal and then falling short in the end.
 

NHL Power Rankings: Big shakeup in the Top 10 this week

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NBC Sports Boston Illustration

NHL Power Rankings: Big shakeup in the Top 10 this week

Sure, the NHL's Stanley Cup Playoffs are months away, but it's never too soon to look ahead, right?

The competition for playoff positioning in the Eastern Conference could be tight, as several teams have surged forward recently, including the Flyers, Panthers and Canadiens — all of which missed the playoffs a season ago.

The picture is also crowded out West, where not many teams have started to separate from the pack as of yet.

How are the Bruins stacking up after a four-game losing streak? And which teams are making leaps forward?

Click here for Joe Haggerty's NHL Power Rankings.>>>>>>

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David Pastrnak should be a lock in Bruins' shootout lineup going forward

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USA TODAY Sports

David Pastrnak should be a lock in Bruins' shootout lineup going forward

The shootout is a problem for the Boston Bruins, and already this season it has cost them three points. Now, that might not sound like a lot, but in a very competitive Atlantic Division that's shaping up to include five playoff-caliber teams, those points are quite valuable.

The Bruins blew a four-goal third-period lead Tuesday night and ultimately lost 5-4 in a shootout to the Florida Panthers at TD Garden. Charlie Coyle extended the shootout with a third-round goal, but it's Boston's only tally in 11 shootout attempts this season. Only three of the 26 teams that have taken part in at least one shootout have a worst shooting percentage than Boston. 

Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy's shootout lineup was a real head-scratcher. Here's a look at the skaters chosen:

Chris Wagner: No goal
Brad Marchand: No goal
Charlie Coyle: Goal
Charlie McAvoy: No goal

The lack of speed and creativity with the puck made Panthers goalie Sam Montembeault's job too easy. Take a look for yourself in the highlights below:

The most curious absence from the above list is David Pastrnak, who leads the league with 16 goals and is tied for second place in scoring with 31 points. Pastrnak is just 3-for-19 in shootouts for his career, but despite this lack of success, he absolutely should be one of the first two shooters in this format, especially when the opposing team has its backup goalie in net, as was the case Wednesday night. The most talented players should be on the ice with the game on the line, and Pastrnak is without question the B's most skilled offensive player. 

Cassidy explained after why Pastrnak wasn't involved in his team's latest shootout loss.

"(Bruins goalie coach) Bob (Essensa) has information on that," Cassidy told reporters. "One thing Bob suggested -- we were going to use Wagner. There was maybe more shooters than dekers against this goalie coming in, but Charlie (Coyle) scored in the shootout shooting. You know, we put Coyle in and recommended shooting. Pasta tends to like to deke, so that’s why we went away from him. He’s been a little bit cold lately in the shootout, so give some other guys an opportunity that we feel can finish. Charlie McAvoy definitely has but didn’t happen."

Pastrnak has shot in two of the three shootouts this season. Jake DeBrusk has taken part in only one. David Krejci didn't shoot in the one game he's played in that ended with a shootout. Patrice Bergeron has zero shootout attempts despite scoring 70 goals over his last 147 games. Bergeron's nine shootout goals are tied for the team lead with Marchand since the beginning of 2012-13. Even defenseman Zdeno Chara deserves a look in the shootout with his powerful slap shot.

Let's be clear: shootouts aren't a new problem for the Bruins.

They actually ranked as the third-best shootout team during the 2011-12 season with 19 goals on 38 attempts, but it's been all downhill since then. The Bruins are dead last in the league with a 20.7 shooting percentage (49-for-237) in shootouts over the last eight seasons, including the current campaign.

We can complain all day about the shootout and say it's a gimmick, and that might be true, but the fact remains it's a very important part of today's NHL. The Bruins' lack of success in the shootout won't hurt them in the Stanley Cup playoffs, but it could end up costing them the most desirable seed if the current trend isn't reversed soon. Consistently putting the most skilled offensive players on the ice would be a good way to remedy the situation.

Joe Haggerty: The root causes of this alarming Bruins skid>>>

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