Boston vs Tampa Bay Game Two Breakdown

(Photo Credit: NHLI via Getty Images)

By: Leon Lifschutz | Follow Me On Twitter @LeonLifschutz

The Bruins and Lightning figured back to backs weren’t enough hockey and decided to go into overtime in game 2. Tampa Bay was the more desperate team throughout most of the game and were rewarded with the win, tying the series at 1-1. The game was a reminder of how talented an opponent the Lightning are and how hard Boston will need to work to survive the formidable challenge. Let’s get into the breakdown.

The Recap

The much maligned Nick Ritchie opened the scoring early in the 1st period literally stuffing the puck under the pad of Andrei Vasilevskiy during a goal mouth scramble. Tampa tied things up midway through the period after an impressive individual effort by Zach Bogosian sprung Blake Coleman all alone and he beat Jaroslav Halak between the wickets. A powerplay goal on a Brad Marchand redirect from the side of the net in the middle stages of the 2nd reclaimed the lead for the Bruins. Moments later, Tampa tied it back up on a Nikita Kucherov tip. In the 3rd, Tampa took the lead after Victor Hedman found a streaking Coleman who again beat Halak between the pads. Not to be outdone, Marchand also scored his second of the night, also in a similar fashion to his first, at the left hand side of Vasilevskiy. Tampa came out flying in the overtime and ended the game less than 5 minutes into the extra frame when Ondrej Palat pounced on a loose puck in front and knocked it home.

Check out the full RECAP from my colleague Mike Cratty.

The Storyline

While Boston hung on and fought back the Lightning’s onslaught was just too much on this particular night. Tampa was missing two key players tonight in Steven Stamkos and now Ryan McDonagh. Tampa is a deep team though and received contributions from every part of tonight’s lineup. The Bruins push back was great to see for Bs fans. They took advantage of opportunities, played it safe when needed, and battled. This was type of effort the fanbase expects of this outfit even on their less pretty nights. Tonight, they just couldn’t quite weather the storm that was the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Stats

5v5CFCACF%SCFSCASCF%xGFxGAxGF%
P192130.00%5645.45%0.510.838.87%
P2142041.18%7750.00%0.440.6839.02%
P3221953.66%10952.63%0.430.6340.59%
P421313.33%060.00%0.040.497.25%
Game477339.17%222844.00%1.422.635.20%
Data from NaturalStatTrick.com

If you watched the game and felt like the blue team had the puck a lot you would be correct. This is concerning for a Bruins team whose identity is predicated on limiting opponents offense. Tampa controlled the run of the play on a pretty consistent basis throughout this game with the exception of the 3rd period when the Bruins managed some good push back. Though the scoring chances were close overall, Tampa led in the high danger category 14-5. Tampa has the ability to enter the zone with possession or retrieve pucks on dump ins. From there, they tend to control the puck in the offensive zone and it shows in the numbers. We will also highlight those key tactics later on in the video breakdown.

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Tampa Bay’s dominance on offense again shows up, this time in visual form. The Lightning got to the house regularly. Sometimes it was in the form of rushes like those from Coleman, nice passing sequences, or getting traffic in front. All 4 goals came from inside the hashmarks.

The Bruins, despite less activity than usual, did manage some quality chances. They continue to get the majority of scoring from right on top of the blue painted crease. They did enough to get 3 into the opposing net tonight but will likely need more volume on offense in the games to come.

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The Bruins top line was a real bright spot in this contest, not an abnormal occurrence by any stretch. At 5v5 they got a heavy dose of the Cirelli line and did well overall. Likewise, in their shifts against Point and Kucherov. Pastrnak, in particular, was dangerous. Though he didn’t score, he ended the night tied with Bergeron for 4 individual scoring chances. Pasta was influential in both of Marchand’s goals.

The Coyle line was better in this game though they were victimized on Tampa’s second goal. Nick Ritchie managed a team high in individual expected goals showing he was getting chances in addition to the goal he potted. He would also pick up 3 hits showing the physicality Bruins leadership and fans hope to see from him. Seeing this type of performance consistently will go a long way for Coach Cassidy trusting Ritchie and the line as a whole.

This was not a banner night from the Bruins 4th line. The typically reliable trio got hemmed in their defensive zone shift after shift. They struggled to return the favor with cycle time in the offensive zone. They were victimized by an overzealous neutral zone forecheck on Tampa’s 3rd goal. They conceded the game winner at the tail end of a very long shift when they didn’t identify Palat crashing on the weak side. Kuraly though did make a tremendous play to get Marchand the puck cross crease for the Bruins 3rd goal.

The Video Breakdown

Tonight we have a treat, not 1 but 2 video breakdowns. Both highlight items that make the Lightning such a tough team to play against. First, let’s start with a clip that includes the Lightning’s disallowed goal early in the 1st period.

The clip starts well before the goal just to demonstrate a key difference between the Lightning’s top line and 3rd line. The Bruins defensemen had two very different challenges to deal with on the same shift. At the start of the clip, Brayden Point chooses to enter the zone with possession and attack Zdeno Chara. Chara plays solid 1v1 defense but Point has done enough to get deep into the zone. The Bruins do manage to clear the puck and a line change by Tampa yields a new strategy. The Gourde, Goodrow, Coleman line immediately dump the puck in deep and hound McAvoy and Chara. They do enough to disrupt the Bruins’ breakout and recover the puck. Following the puck recovery, low to high passing and net front presence would lead to a goal, though it would eventually be disallowed.

Let’s also take a look at the Lightning’s 2nd goal. The Bruins play a layered defensive zone system meaning you pass off players as the move around the zone and you always have help beside and behind you. Unfortunately on this play, the system breaks down and Tampa Bay scores.

Again in this clip we see a strong forecheck disrupt the Bruins breakout. Then Point gets to work. You’ll note 3 Bruins – Coyle, Clifton, and Grezlcyk trying to seal Point along the wall and prevent him from getting to the middle. All 3 will pass him off as he enters their space. It works….for a while. Once Point breaks free, the Bruins layers kick in much as help defense would in basketball, lacrosse, soccer, or even football. Bjork reacts and tries to close on Point. This leaves the whole right side of the zone for Shattenkirk to slide in and take the open shot. Ritchie is low filling in for a defender but isn’t able to get body position or tie up the stick of Kucherov who tips the puck past Halak. Great individual effort and talent can sometimes break down the best of structure as is the case on this play.

Moment of the Night

Jaroslav Halak reminds us that a good day, or winning game 3, all depends on a good night’s sleep. Thanks Jaro for the wellness message. Bruins nation hopes you don’t have to count too many sheep before getting some beauty sleep.

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Sleep tight everyone and see you again in a few hours!

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