(Photo Credit: Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images)
By: Leon Lifschuts | Follow Me On Twitter @LeonLifschuts
The Bruins had their first leads of the NHL restart and while they couldn’t hold onto them in regulation time they managed to claim it once and for all in the second overtime. In doing so, they secured their first win of the restart and 1-0 series lead against the Hurricanes. Facing a talented ‘Canes team, the Bs displayed the effort and execution that fans were clamoring for in the round-robin. Let’s breakdown how the Bruins of Boston won this game.
While the Bruins had leads on 3 occasions in regulation, the first 4 periods ended in a tie game. Check out the awesome recap from colleague Mike Cratty with all the key moments.
The obvious story of this game is the overtime winner by Patrice Bergeron who sent the puck past Petr Mrazek on the far side after Brad Marchand kicked it outside while driving through the slot. There were many other positive items to focus on including great play by the middle-6 forwards leading to goal scoring from lines 1, 2, and 3.
But for the moment, the powerplay continues to struggle and did not come to life in the same manner as the rest of the team. Coach Bruce Cassidy shifted Charlie Coyle to the top unit in hopes of getting things going but neither unit got much going en route to an 0 for 4 performance. Powerplays run cold from time to time but more concerning than the lack of goals is the lack of opportunities being generated. In 4 attempts, the Bs only had 7 shot attempts and only 3 on the net. They only produced 0.3 expected goals and gave up a real goal after a David Pastrnak giveaway led to a Brock McGinn breakaway. Entries, retrievals, and puck movement were all circumspect. Thankfully in this game, it didn’t matter. But this seems like a key area the Bruins will need to figure out in order to sustain game 1’s success, a challenge given the lack of practice time their schedule affords in the coming days.
The Bruins in many ways controlled this game. They managed the puck well and with rare exceptions weathered Carolina’s pressure-filled play and avoided costly mistakes or long stretches in their own zone. They were also able to generate good opportunities in the counter-attack and especially the Krejci and Coyle lines were able to spend a number of shifts spinning around the offensive zone. Carolina did have some spurts of momentum notably the latter parts of the first and following the Bruins 3rd goal before equalizing that number.
Heat Map Taken from naturalstattrick.com
Carolina did throw the puck from everywhere but did not generate their usual volume of shots and more importantly, had fewer quality chances. At 5v5 this leads to the Bruins carrying the higher expected goals rate as illustrated above, a difference that would be more pronounced if not for the Bruins’ struggle on the powerplay.
Game Cards Taken from Hockeystatcards.com
(ed. note – several of the time on ice (TOI) numbers are incorrect)
This was a strong game for a number of Bruins players. Patrice Bergeron and Davi Pastrnak returned to the top of the table, spots they occupied most of the season. While they did not dominate when matched against the ‘Canes top line they did carry a slight advantage and of course, managed not only the game’s first tally but also the definitive final one.
Krejci’s line was the standout line today, dominating their opponents. All 3 led the team in individual expected goals. While Krejci managed to score a pretty one both Debrusk and Kase had numerous glorious chances that were stifled by posts and missed nets. If the line can continue to generate that level of opportunities, the goals will come.
Matt Grzelcyk should also be lauded for a strong game as he became more comfortable in his outlets and getting up in the play as the game went along. Recognizing this, Cassidy threw him some extra shifts sporadically with the top 4.
The Bruins 4th line grade out poorly, not at all an anomaly as their season-long numbers suggest. However, it should be noted why Cassidy values the trio consistently putting them out on the penalty kill and for late period D-zone faceoffs. A notable 3rd-period shift when the Bs were on their heels should also be lauded. Wagner in particular had some good jump in this one.
A number of candidates emerged in a game that stretched more than 4 periods. The game-winning goal came on a great regroup play to spring the top line on the rush. David Krejci’s goal was a great show of patience and skill after a sequence that involved all 5 players and started in the defensive zone. For today’s breakdown, we will focus on goals 1 and 2 for the Bruins. While not identical, both were created off of the same offensive zone face-off play.
Let’s start with goal 1.
On the NESN broadcast, Andy Brickley did a great job of illustrating how the play happened but we will recount here for anyone who missed it and to highlight key points for the next goal.
- Bergeron very subtly wins the draw enough for Marchand to be able to make a play.
- Marchand comes from the inside out to win the puck off the draw just above the dot and continues driving with it to the outside.
- Pastrnak completes the wheel driving from the outside inwards just below the dot and to the far post.
- Marchand threads a beautiful pass across.
- Pastrnak has found just a little separation from his check and gets his stick loose. That is more than enough for Pastrnak to make it look easy.
Now onto goal 2. Let’s note the similarities and differences.
- Coyle wins the faceoff in the same fashion as Bergeron, leaving it just behind his feet.
- Bjork, like Marchand, comes from the inside to scoop the puck and drive wide.
- Ritchie has attempted to drive across the crease but the Hurricanes are prepared this time. The defender ‘picks’ Ritchie and prevents the route.
- In the goal 1 sequence, Bergeron was tied up by the opposing center. Not Coyle who gets loose and drives the net.
- Without the passing option, Bjork throws the puck on net, all three Bruins’ forwards are around the goalmouth.
- Bjork and Ritchie engaged in the ensuing, somewhat controversial scramble and poke the puck loose.
- Coyle, who has driven past the net in his initial route, loops back just above the net front. The route he takes allows him to continue alluding his check and as such is able to put home an easy goal.
I am personally not one who puts much stock in faceoffs. However, the Bruins offensive zone faceoff play led to 2 huge goals today and contributed to an important series-opening victory.
Moment of the Night
Jack Edwards, while riffing on the location of the game in Toronto and the plight of the arena’s usual tenant had the following to say.