Looking Ahead: This is What Boston Needs in Game 7

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[Providence, RI] - After dropping Game 5 in Boston, the Bruins flew back to Toronto and dropped Game 6 due to many reasons. The Bruins were up 3-1 in the series, but will now play a winner-takes-all match in Boston on Wednesday night to determine who moves on to the second-round. If any of you are reading, you might be wondering 'What went wrong?' or 'How did this happen?' Well, there are many reasons and possible answers to these questions, which I will address below. Keep reading to see my thoughts on Game 5 & 6, along with my input on what the Bruins will need to win in Game 7. 

  • The defense has to be better from top-to-bottom. Both Matt Grzelcyk & Adam McQuaid were proven to be ineffective as they played under 12:00 TOI during Game 6. When it comes to Charlie McAvoy, his decision-making and defensive-awareness has failed him in the last two-games. Am I overreacting? Some would say "Yes, you are, so please just quit the internet and do us all the favor." In an attempt to support those claims, I assume the statistic pointing out that McAvoy logged a team-high 24:35 TOI during Game 6 would be brought into the debate. However, we've all seen that McAvoy is capable of much more and needs to be the dynamic, game-changing defender he's shown us before. 
  • The top-line of Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak needs to simplify their game and play with more conviction— own the attacking-zone. Too many times we saw Pastrnak & Marchand get too cute in Game 6. Instead of getting the shot off, they were looking to make the extra-move, curl-and-drag or toe-drag rather than shoot. Same goes for Bergeron, who I felt was looking for the extra-pass too much. On the bright-side, Bergeron was in the bumper-position frequently and contributed some quality, high-danger shots that were saved by Andersen or went wide. Bergeron also won 79 percent of his face-offs, and while it's unrealistic to ask him to replicate that performance in Game 7, the Bruins will need him to dominate face-offs again if they want to win. The same goes for Riley Nash, who won 64 percent of his face-offs, and David Krejci, who won 56 percent of his during Game 6. 
  • David Krejci needs to play with more urgency and make sure his passes are going to get through. When he is puck-carrying, he also needs to be more aware of his surroundings and the defensive-structure that the Leafs are establishing in the neutral-zone. In my opinion, Rick Nash was excellent in Game 6, but he needs to convert one of his several scoring-chances into a goal soon. Jake DeBrusk was electric as usual and did just about everything right. I think the Bruins should be looking at every opportunity to give DeBrusk more TOI in Game 7.
  • Tommy Wingels played well and did what was asked of him. He also helped screen Andersen & the defense on the lone-goal of the game. However, Cassidy has a tough decision to make for Game 7. Does he bring Danton Heinen back into the lineup? Does he keep Tommy Wingels in the lineup? Or does he look to Ryan Donato for the spark this team needs? Although Donato isn’t strong enough defensively to keep up with this grueling-style of play, he isn’t afraid to shoot and is quite frankly an assassin in the offensive-zone. There are cases here for each player and it will be a tough-call, one I’m glad I don’t have to make.
  • Despite just about every goal being scored by someone in-all-alone during Game 5, Tuukka Rask wasn’t great. I absolutely don’t fault him for that loss, but he wasn’t great. Game 6 was a different story. Many fans are on his case about the Marner goal, but that backhander was deceptive & hard. Rask came up huge in the third-period with some magic sprinkled on his shoulder to stop the shot resulting from a nasty, Auston Matthews cross-ice pass. He came up huge once again at the end of the third-period when Matthews founds himself in-all-alone on the partial-breakaway— Rask extended himself on the ice and made the save. Rask can’t be expected to make clutch-save after clutch-save all game, but he needs to be on his game. The defense needs to do their part as they’ve failed to do so in Game 5 & 6. 
  • The power-play. Where do I even begin. In Game 5, the Bruins went 1-for-6 on the PP and failed to convert the 5-on-3 PP into a goal. This just can’t happen if you’re trying to win games in the playoffs. In Game 6, it wasn’t any different— just that the PP-opportunities were more scarce. The Bruins went 0-for-2 on the man-advantage in Game 6, so they picked up exactly where they left off in Game 5. Looking ahead to Game 7, the Bruins need to bring different strategies to the power-play if an opportunity presents itself. Too often, the Bruins seem to be trying to run ‘overload’ on the man-advantage, resulting in too many passes and not enough quality-shots that reach the net. They work the puck down-low, then fight to get it back to the point— rinse, wash & repeat. I’m not a coach by any means, but something has to give. Do they try a textbook, umbrella-style PP so they can have more traffic and generate more shots? That is up to Cassidy & Co. to figure out. Regardless of their game-plan, something has to be switched up.


Bruins Network PSA - Things are going to get better

[Providence, RI] - The Boston Bruins were handed a disheartening defeat at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs last night despite outshooting them by a large margin. When losses like this happen to a young, injury-riddled team, it seems as though some fans always let their emotions get the best of them. My message to them?

Guys and girls, relax — temper the emotions a little bit.

Last night, along with some of the other loses this season, was an ugly game with no capitalization and horrendous power-play attempts. It wasn't exactly fun to watch, to say the least. 

However, while everyone seems to want to watch this team compete for a Cup right now, they just aren’t ready. It isn’t something you want rushed, by any means. Why sell valuable assets and young prospects to achieve a first, or second round win? Just stay the course, let the young players continue to develop and learn, then start to seriously contend in the next two years.

This current Bruins roster is missing McQuiad, Krejci, Backes & Spooner. That accumulation of injuries would be enough to decimate most teams across the entire NHL. Yet, they continue to stay afloat as they manage to get valuable points. That is a big-leap in the right direction for this Bruins team as compared to previous season. Despite losing all of their overtime games thus far on the season, they manage to get there one way or another. Earning a single point amidst this injury-riddled & inexperienced roster is very important. 

As far as the subject of trading and professional scouting goes, the only trades Sweeney should be looking at are the ones that benefit the present & future. A young, impact-player who can be slotted into the top-6 F or top-4 D. You can’t seriously want this team to start selling off pieces in the farm for that glorious Stanley Cup run you can’t achieve, can you?

Amongst the various complaints about the roster, I see the sarcastic Rask hate, and the serious Rask hate on twitter and online-discussion boards. If you watched Rask against Toronto and blame him for that loss you really need to go back and watch the Toronto games — very slowly, in a dark room while you think about your problems and blind anger towards a player. Take that dialogue and narrative to Felger & Mazz in the afternoon. Ask may not be playing his best hockey, but he is giving this team chance to win. He can't be expected to hold the opposition to one-goal in every starting appearance he has. The team as a whole needs to better, even him. To dismiss Rask as top-goalie in the NHL because the team isn't playing well is just silly. 

It’s a team effort. All of the forwards whom needed to score last night against Toronto, couldn’t score.

There are players in Providence who should probably get a look, and most-likely will. Cehlarik when healthy (as of today, he is back in the lineup for the P-Bruins) will be up in Boston soon after. I think JFK might provide a spark, but again, why rush a player like him into an injury-riddled lineup that isn’t playing well? Let him develop, don’t throw him into the fire. Albeit JFK is in a different boat than Cehlarik, as the latter is most definitely NHL-ready. However, let’s see what this team looks like when it’s fully healthy and not decimated first. Sweeney won’t be making deals or trades until he can assess what he has in front of him. You should be glad he’s sticking to his plan.

There is no need for panic, and there is certainly no need for most of the negativity that has encouraged major parts of the fanbase. This is the youth movement everyone wanted. With that youth comes learning curves and growing pains, but things are going to get better. 

Bottom-line in this PSA? There’s a great deal of passion in the Bruins fan-base, however, those emotions and expectations need to be tempered in order for many of you to evaluate & properly analyze.

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