By Leon Lifschutz | Follow me on Twitter @LeonLifschutz
What a roller coaster of emotion for Bruins fans. A quiet 1st period was followed by a 2-0 deficit at the end of the 2nd. Angst was in the air amongst the fandom. But the angst turned to euphoria after an utterly dominant display of hockey spurred the beloved Bruins to a 3-1 series lead. Let’s breakdown how it all happened!
The Bruins conceded a Justin Williams point shot in the 1st and a Jordan Martinook shot off the rush in the 2nd to head into the 3rd period down 2 goals to 0. Boston decided enough was enough and put on an impressive display of hockey in the final frame. They outshot Carolina 16-2 and scored 4 unanswered goals. The Canes would manage one late to draw them back to within 1 but the Bruins would hang on to preserve the 4-3 comeback win.
The Third Period – There were a number of potential storylines in this one if the Bruins don’t have that 3rd period. The 1RW spot was proving problematic. Halak let two in over the left pad, goals that were criticized on the broadcast, and deemed “stoppable” by his head coach. James Reimer had the answer to the Bruins’ chances, notably on the powerplay.
Corsi (shot attempts), Scoring Chances, and Expected Goals
Data courtesy of naturalstattrick.com
Both teams played a more cautious opening half to this game. Neither team seemed interested in having a track meet and subsequently locked down the neutral zone and limited the end to end action. Offensive opportunities were minimal. Things changed a bit in the latter half of the 2nd though it would be hard to call it the damn breaking on the defensive structure. The third period was a different story. With the 2 goal lead, Carolina sat back, and with the 2 goal deficit, the Bruins pushed hard. The Bruins dominated in every category and by a wide margin en route to their huge comeback.
Final Heatmap, 8-17-20 vs. CAR pic.twitter.com/0y8ATkPu1m— BruinsBreakdown (@LeonLifschutz) August 18, 2020
The Bruins looked stronger by the heatmap even before their onslaught in the third largely due to some strong puck movement on the powerplay where a number of touch pass plays to Bergeron in the bumper spot generated dangerous chances. The Bruins were able to get to the middle of the ice for shots especially in the 3rd. 3 of the 4 goals were scored directly in front of the net. While Connor Clifton’s laser wasn’t from the middle it came from the dot after the hard work of Joakim Nordstrom and the 4th line down low.
Bruins Game Scores for 8-17-20 vs CAR pic.twitter.com/2OyE3RfbuS
— BruinsBreakdown (@LeonLifschutz) August 18, 2020
There were some beautiful goals from the Bruins tonight. Torey Krug’s geometrically perfect bank pass itself is worth marveling at all by itself let alone Brad Marchand coolly finishing the play. Likewise, the eventual game-winner by Debrusk after some heads up puck movement from Krejci and Kase deserves extra viewings.
However, for today’s video breakdown we are going to look at The Bruins’ second goal. While the Bs 4th line often doesn’t look great on paper there is a reason Cassidy continues to go to it in key situations. They manage the puck in the neutral zone, get pucks deep in the zone, bring physicality, and can provide some offense from time to time. The video also helps make the case for Connor Clifton’s continued inclusion in the lineup.
Clifton scoops the puck off the faceoff and uses his mobility to take open space on the far side. He then chooses to “manage the puck” crossing the red line and getting the puck in deep.
Wagner is F1. F1s job is to get in and disrupt the breakout. He does a great job making contact and separating the ‘Canes defender.
Nordstrom is F2. He is playing in “soft” support reading the situation. He can engage the puck carrier or retreat depending on the play. With Wagner creating a turnover, Nordstrom steps in to recover the puck.
Nordstrom initially skates into traffic but escapes behind the net to the weak side. In the process, he shields the puck with his body and additionally uses the net to create separation from his check. This allows him to make an easy pass to Clifton.
Clifton reads the play well. He identifies that Nordstrom needs an option given his two linemates are engaged in net-front battles. He also identifies all 5 ‘Canes defenders below the hash marks giving him room to move in.
Clifton gets his body in a shooting position before the puck arrives corking his stick and squaring his feet. In doing so he is able to step into the shot before the diving ‘Canes forward closes on him. And a good shot it was!
Moment of the Night
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) August 18, 2020