By Mike Miccoli
In Game 2 on Saturday night, the story wasn’t that the Bruins couldn’t keep up the momentum, it was that the Maple Leafs played on a higher level, looking like a different team than Game 1. As for the Bruins? Well, they just weren’t good enough. Make no mistake about it though, the Bruins shouldn’t panic for Game 3 in Toronto.
Game 2 was strange for the Bruins in the sense that they didn’t play a bad game. I’d even argue that they weren’t outplayed for the majority of the game, either. They were beaten by a Toronto team that came out hungry and was able to capitalize on their chances. The Maple Leafs wanted to make a statement after their poor performance in Game 1 on Wednesday and they were able to do that by outhitting Boston 44-35 and taking advantage of loose pucks and rebounds that the Bruins’ defensemen left in front of the net.
You can blame it on the mismatched pairs of defensemen that started with Andrew Ference missing a game on the count of his one-game suspension after an elbow to the head of Mikhail Grabovski. Usual shut-down defenseman Dennis Seidenberg was a team-worst -3 and played one of his worst games of hockey all season. Paired with Johnny Boychuk, Seidenberg got caught up behind the play and flat-out beat by Matt Frattin who set up Joffrey Lupul’s second goal, as well as James van Riemsdyk who put the final nail in the Bruins’ Game 2 coffin.
But still, it’s not time to panic. The Bruins still had plenty of positives to takeaway from the game, including the performance of Tyler Seguin who was all over the ice with eight shots on goal and a total of four hits. They were still keeping the pressure on Toronto and connecting with passes in the offensive zone.
The problem was that the Bruins couldn’t capitalize. The line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Seguin had plenty of chances but just couldn’t get it past James Reimer, who made 39 saves in Game 2. Jaromir Jagr looked like he was playing by himself, instead of with linemates Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley, for the majority of the game. The new-look B’s defense was out-of-place all because of Ference sitting out a game, forcing Claude Julien to break up his top shutdown pair of Seidenberg and Zdeno Chara.
All of these problems are temporary and quite fixable. After the game on Saturday, the Bruins knew what they were doing wrong and how they have to fix the problems. The Bruins didn’t play a bad game, but the Leafs took advantage of every possible chance they got. The Bruins did not.
In the end, that’s all that matters. The Maple Leafs won the game and evened-up the series at one apiece. In front of a home crowd at the Air Canada Center on Monday night for Game 3, the Maple Leafs will try to do something they haven’t done since April 30, 2004: win a playoff game at home.
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Mike Miccoli covers the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers and has been a credentialed member of the media for all Bruins’ home games for the past five years. As a former player, coach and official, Miccoli has been around the game of hockey since the age of three. Along with his work on THW, Miccoli has also been published in the New England Hockey Journal, Improper Bostonian magazine and on BostInno.