The Boston Bruins struggled in their last outing in Montreal losing the game 4-2. The Canadiens’ win put the series at 2-1 in favor of the Habs and the Bruins need to start playing a quicker, smarter game if they’re going to make it through the second round. Here’s 3 things that the Bruins need to change if they want to get past the Canadiens.
1) Defense, defense, defense
It kind of goes without saying, but a team without defensive talent will not make it far in the playoffs. In the last game, this was one key area in which the Bruins had major struggles. From Andrej Meszaros being out-skated by Dale Weise who scored on a clean breakaway to Dougie Hamilton leaving Tuukka Rask out to dry, the defense in the last game was abominably bad.
I don’t buy that it’s because Dennis Seidenberg is out with an injury either. The Bruins have long touted their depth as one of their strong points and if that is truly one of their strengths, then missing Seidenberg shouldn’t be a factor in these games. Don’t get me wrong, Seidenberg is a highly talented defenseman, but he is only one player and if the Bruins depth cannot accommodate the loss of one player than they are in more dire straits than they should be. Their defensive woes are not for lack of talent either. Dougie Hamilton, though he struggled last game, is quickly growing into a dynamic, intelligent player under the tutelage and guidance of Zdeno Chara who is also a skilled player. Meszaros, though he also wasn’t without errors, managed to tip in the Bruins second and last goal of the night. The defense needs to simply show their talent and play the game they are capable of.
2) O Krejci, Where Art Thou?
One name that has been missing from the scoreboard is David Krejci. While in the past, Krejci has proven himself to be a contender when it comes to the playoffs, this post-season he’s all but disappeared. Jeff Pini reports:
Krejci was the Bruins’ leading scoring in the regular season, tallying 69 points, while leading the league with a plus-39 rating. He led the Bruins in points in both of their runs to the Stanley Cup final over the past three seasons, and is a key part of the Bruins’ offense. This postseason, Krejci has no goals and just three assists. Against Montreal, he has one assist and, more shockingly, a minus-2 rating in three games.
So, the missing Krejci can apparently be found in the minus column. For a player as talented and dynamic on the ice as he is, Krejci needs to get things going and start making smart, timely plays.
When you have a guy on your team who is capable of things like the above goal it’s really disappointing to outright lose games, especially in the Stanley Cup playoffs. That’s not to say that other players haven’t been missing from the score column as well. For example, noted pest and agitator Brad Marchand has been stunningly silent during these playoffs as well, racking up zero goals total in 8 games. While Marchand does have 5 assists to his name, he has also been significantly less of an annoying presence on the ice, especially in these past few games. This is part of his charm and part of his game and I can only hope that he makes a return to his regularly scheduled pesting soon.
3) Shut Down PK
PK Subban is slowly killing the Boston Bruins. He has absolutely dominated this series and is making really intelligent plays that are resulting in pucks in the back of the net. Even long time Subban nit-picker Don Cherry is singing his praises, or at least he had this to say on the matter when on the radio with WEEI-FM in Boston:
“Right now, the way he’s playing, there’s nobody in the league — nevermind Chara — playing as good as him right now,” Cherry told the hosts. “I mean, this guy is a phenom.”
Regardless of your views on him as far as being a “diver” or a “turtle” the fact remains that Subban is making a huge difference on the ice for the Canadiens and the Bruins are being left in his wake. There is no reason that a player as talented as Subban should be allowed to step out of the penalty box, grab the puck and put it in the back of the net. Whether this was Tuukka Rask’s fault for not slapping his stick on the ice when Subban left the penalty box or the players on the ice not noticing what was going on, things like this cannot happen if the Bruins want to make it past the Canadiens and into round 3.
Credit where it’s due, that was a pretty nifty move there by Subban.
The Bruins are capable of winning these games and making it all the way to the Stanley Cup. They have the pieces that they need to get them there, albeit without Seidenberg, and they have the talent. It’s up to them now to make the changes necessary to make it through this round and into the next.