Things are starting to heat up for the Boston Bruins in their First Round Stanley Cup Playoff series with the Carolina Hurricanes. In this edition of Bruins Weekly, we will look back at the week that was with two Bruins’ wins at the TD Garden to even the series, coach Bruce Cassidy’s adjustments, and more.
Cassidy’s Adjustments Pay Off
Following the Bruins’ Game 2 loss to fall into a two-game deficit heading back to Boston, Cassidy knew that he needed to make some adjustments if his team was going to get back in the series. Cassidy pushed the button on some changes and while dealing with the adversity of losing another defenseman, his moves were able to get his team back in the series.
One of the adjustments was turning to Jeremy Swayman in goal. First and foremost, Linus Ullmark was not the problem in the first two games, despite giving up 10 goals. His teammates in front of him offered very little in the way of help. Clearing attempts were not good enough which the Hurricanes turned into goals and defenseman Matt Grzelcyk made a bad decision at the offensive blue line in Game 1 in the third period which led to a 2-on-1 the other way and a backbreaking goal that gave the hosts a two-goal lead midway the period in a game that Black and Gold seemed to have all the momentum.
Switching to Swayman was the right move just in terms of providing a spark, similar to when there is a goalie change in the middle of a game. Another move and maybe the biggest move was putting together the top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak. It led to the trio playing as they have in the past, scoring and producing at key times. They combined to record 16 points in the two games in Boston. The Bruins will need more of that in Carolina if they are going to secure a road win to have a chance to win the series.
Another lineup change was inserting Chris Wagner on the fourth line with Curtis Lazar and Nick Foligno. Wagner replaced Trent Frederic, who has been a healthy scratch after struggling recently. Wagner, like Frederic, is not going to supply much, if any, offense, but he’s going to bring a physical style of play with energy.
Bruins Defense Continues to Step up
Hours before the puck dropped on Game 4, the Bruins learned that top defenseman Charlie McAvoy would miss the game after being placed in COVID-19 protocols. Already missing Hampus Lindholm, the defense depth was and is going to be severely tested over the rest of the series.
Josh Brown, acquired at the trade deadline from the Ottawa Senators, was inserted into the lineup and the Bruins rolled out Mike Reilly, Brandon Carlo, Grzelcyk, Connor Clifton, and Derek Forbort. Lost in the shuffle of Sunday’s Game 4 is the fact that the Black and Gold evened the series with a depleted defensive core. There was some thought that Lindholm could return for Game 5, but he did not travel with the team. McAvoy, according to Cassidy, is feeling better but remains in the league’s protocols.
Bruins Show Resiliency in Games 3 & 4
In both games played in Boston, it could have been very easy for the Bruins to pack things in, call it a series and start their summer against a team that has had their number all season long. Instead, they showed some resiliency in both games after giving up the first goal and battling back to even the series.
In Game 3, Vincent Trocheck gave Carolina a 1-0 first period lead, before the Bruins responded with a shorthanded goal from Charlie Coyle that could be considered the biggest goal of the series yet. Boston would score four out of the final five goals in the game for a 4-2 victory. In Game 4, Carolina again jumped out ahead on a Brett Pesce goal, only to have the Bruins respond with five of the final six goals of the game in a 5-2 win, spearheaded by a Bergeron goal late in the first period.
The Week Ahead
- Tuesday: at Carolina Hurricanes (Game 5), 7 p.m.
- Thursday: vs. Carolina Hurricanes (Game 6), 7 p.m.
- Saturday: at Carolina Hurricanes (Game 7, if necessary), TBA
Scott Roche covers the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers. A frequent user of the Oxford comma. Scott has been a sports writer for 25 years for different sites and daily newspapers. Writing started out as a hobby, but it has become a passion for Scott over the years.