Bruins

Talking Points from the Bruins' 5-1 win in over the Blues in Game 6

Talking Points from the Bruins' 5-1 win in over the Blues in Game 6

Here are Joe Haggerty's Talking Points from the Bruins' 5-1 win over the Blues in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final to force a Game 7 in TD Garden. 

GOLD STAR: Tuukka Rask has been excellent in the postseason, but he elevated to a different level at the biggest possible moment in Game 6. Rask was massive in the first couple of periods making 19 saves while St. Louis had a lot of time pounding the Bruins in the defensive zone, and he threw in a behind-the-back save after Charlie McAvoy had deflected a puck that looked like it was headed for the back of the net. Then Rask held strong in the third period while Jordan Binnington crumbled and allowed three goals in the third period on 11 shots to let the Bruins run away with the game headed back to Boston for a Game 7. All Rask needs to do is go out and have another epic performance in Game 7 on home ice, and the B’s netminder will have his crowning Conn Smythe and Stanley Cup moment after so many questions about his big game ability over the years.

BLACK EYE: Jordan Binnington has been just okay for most of the Stanley Cup Final series, and he finally caved in during the third period of Game 6. Or as John Tortorella famously said in the second round of the playoffs, the Bruins “dented” Binnington in a parade of goals that was led by a soft, bouncing knuckle puck off the stick of Brandon Carlo that somehow went past the Blues netminder. In all he gave up three goals on 11 shots in the third period and four goals allowed on 31 shots through the entire game while not being up to the challenge of matching Tuukka Rask. It looked like Binnington finally started playing like a rookie in a big moment in the Stanley Cup Final, and that’s an interesting trend headed into Game 7 on Wednesday night.

TURNING POINT: For the Bruins it was all about getting the early goal and playing the role of front-runner against the Blues. Boston got the 5-on-3 power play after a boarding penalty on Brayden Schenn and a puck over the glass from Ryan O’Reilly and they didn’t waste any time going right after the Blues penalty kill. Once Marchand scored on his blistering one-timer under the bar, the Bruins had the good start, had the lead and really were able to dictate terms to St. Louis much more than they’ve done at times during this series. The Bruins only outshot the Blues by a 12-9 margin in that opening period, but the first goal and the play of Tuukka Rask were major difference-makers.

HONORABLE MENTION: Brandon Carlo doesn’t get mentioned in this space very often, but he earned it after a strong effort in Game 6 to help keep things alive for Boston. Carlo played 20:32 of ice time and was a team-best plus-3 in the win, and scored a huge insurance goal in the third period when he bounced a knuckling wrist shot from the point that somehow skipped past Jordan Binnington for a massive insurance goal. Carlo finished with a shot on net, one hit and the goal, but also played extremely strong defense in his own zone with his partner Torey Krug. Carlo now has two goals in the playoffs for the Bruins after only managing just two during the entire regular season for the Black and Gold.

BY THE NUMBERS: .973 – the save percentage for Tuukka Rask in elimination games during these Stanley Cup playoffs to go along with the perfect 5-0 record and two shutouts. That screams out big-game-goalie.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “I saw it go off the post and off his back, and split-second reflex I just swatted at it. [Tuukka Rask] our best player and he has been all through the playoffs. We know that when he plays like that to the best of his ability, when we do our jobs and help him then he’s going to be there.” –Charlie McAvoy talking about the pivotal behind-the-back assist that he gave Rask during a big second-period play.

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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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