Bruins Must Fix Offensive Struggles Against Hurricanes in Game 2

Shortly after the horn sounded to end Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs between the Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes Monday night, there were questions as to whether or not Jeremy Swayman starts Game 2 in net Wednesday night. That would be one of the adjustments that the Bruins were going to look at to even their best-of-seven series with the Metropolitan Division winning Hurricanes.

Truth be told, goaltending was not the problem for the Bruins in Game 1, it was what was out in front of Ullmark, mainly in the offensive end. Too many chances went by the board for coach Bruce Cassidy’s crew, mainly in the opening period. It s something the Black and Gold need to fix before and in Game 2.

Carolina Took Advantage of Screens

One thing you always hear in hockey and especially in the playoffs, is to get bodies and pucks to the net. Both teams did that in Game 1, but only Carolina took advantage of it.

Related: Bruins’ 3 Keys to Upsetting the Hurricanes in Round 1

In a scoreless game late in the second period, the Hurricanes scored two goals in the final 3:32 of the period. Seth Jarvis tipped a Jacob Slavin shot from the point through a screen and by Ullmark, before Nino Niederreiter’s wrist shot from the point beat Ullmark through a screen to double the lead with 1:22 left in the period. Getting bodies and pucks to the net.

In the third period, after Taylor Hall got Boston on the board to cut the deficit to 2-1, Teuvo Teravainen took advantage of a bad pinch by Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk and scored on a 2-on-1 to regain the two-goal Hurricanes lead. Vincent Trocheck added a fourth goal by banking the puck off of the back of Ullmark. Of all four goals given up by the Bruins’ first-year goalie, only the third one is the one he would like back.

“The 2-on-1 is a great play by them. They executed it,” said Cassidy. “You don’t want to be in that position. So, it’s a great shot. The last goal wouldn’t have mattered…short side. He’s going to tell you it’s not a great goal to give up. By then it’s 4 to 1, so we’re not going to put anything on Ullmark. “Whatever goalie is in there for us, you’ve got to fight to find pucks..I thought was the same at the other end. Early on, Raanta was fighting to find them. There were some rebounds there. We just didn’t capitalize.

Bruce Cassidy, head coach of the Boston Bruins
Bruce Cassidy, head coach of the Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

“It could have gone the other way if some of those have eyes early on, but they didn’t, so give them credit. That’s how they play. We’ll have to do a better job in lanes and Linus will have to work harder to find it as well.”

Bruins Need to Finish More to Make It a Series

I know I’m not breaking any news here, but if the Bruins are going to make this a series and not have the same results that saw them outscored 16-1 by Carolina in the three regular-season games, they need to finish around the net. It was not for a lack of effort in Game 1 as they outshot the Hurricanes, 36-21, but how many times have we seen them outshoot an opponent only to come up on the losing end?

In the first period, the Bruins came out flying, and held a 12-4 advantage in shots early in the game, only to come away empty-handed. They tested Hurricanes’ goalie Antti Raanta early and often, but the veteran was up to the task. A couple of pucks slipped through him on his initial save, but he was helped out by his defense clearing the puck away, with the most dangerous play coming when the puck was cleared off the goal line before Jake DeBrusk could get his stick on it.

Antti Raanta Carolina Hurricanes
Antti Raanta, Carolina Hurricanes (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

“Goalie made saves and there were some pucks around the front of the net we just couldn’t locate or take the right path, but they were there. He’s paid to play, too. And he did a good job,” Cassidy said. “It’s an easier game for us if we get the lead. They play better when they have it. They’re made for that. They check well and it opens them up a little bit if they’re behind. So, it could have had an impact in the game for sure if we finished. We didn’t. It wasn’t from lack of effort. We were ready to play. We just couldn’t put anything in the net early on.”

Raanta made 35 saves and how many would be considered “high-danger”? That’s debatable, but there were times when he left rebounds and the Bruins were not able to pounce on loose pucks. Carolina did a good job defensively clearing pucks and not allowing second and third opportunities, something the Bruins lived off of at times this season. 

After Hall cut the deficit to 2-1 early in the third period, he nearly tied the game before Teravainen’s goal regained the two-goal lead. Hall came into the Carolina zone with speed, got to the middle of the ice, and his wrist shot beat Raanta clean, but his shot hit the post and bounced away harmlessly. 

Taylor Hall, Boston Bruins
Taylor Hall, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

It was not only Hall who had a chance to break through on the scoreboard. In the second period, Tomas Nosek redirected a shot just wide, had a point-blank shot turned away by Raanta, and set up Nick Foligno for a chance, only to be denied by the Carolina goalie. The second line of Hall, David Pastrnak, and Erik Haula combined for 11 shots on the net. The first line of DeBrusk, Patrice Bergeron, and Brad Marchand combined for nine shots on the net, only to come away empty-handed. Boston’s third line of Charlie Coyle, Craig Smith, and Trent Frederic combined for eight shots, only to be shut out also.

Bruins Face Almost Must-Win Game 2

Between the regular season and Game 1, the Bruins are 0-4 and have been outscored 21-2 by Carolina. Not a great recipe for success. Boston had the better of the play in the first period, especially early in the game, and came away empty-handed. If they were able to score on one, two, or even three of those chances, things might have turned out different. There seemed to be a letdown after the first two Hurricanes’ goals at the end of the second, then after the third goal regained the two-goal advantage in the third period.

Right now the Bruins are fighting it offensively against Carolina. Their power play is not helping and playing against the top penalty-killing unit in the regular season, it seems that the Black and Gold are up against it even when their up a man. They have to find a way to finish early, get a lead to play ahead and that could give them confidence. If not, this could be a shorter series that a lot of people expected before it began. Having to win four out of five games is not a position the Bruins want to be in given how the first four games in 2021-22 have gone against confident Hurricanes.

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