Boston vs Tampa Bay Game Four Breakdown

(Photo Credit: Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)

By: Leon Lifschutz | Follow Me On Twitter @LeonLifschutz

It took a little longer than expected for the Bruins and Lightning to play game four. Despite a better effort, the end result was still a loss for the black and gold. Boston now finds themselves down three games to one in the series against a Lightning team who seem to be putting it all together at the right time.

The Recap

Despite out shooting Tampa Bay in the first period, the Bruins found themselves down 1-0 after the first of two goals by Ondrej Palat. The Bruins came out hard in the second but were deflated by a muffed glove save from Jaroslav Halak on Palat’s second marker. Things would get worse with the Lightning scoring a powerplay goal at the tail end of a Nick Ritchie’s major penalty for boarding. Going into the third period down 3-0 the Bruins did manage a Jake Debrusk powerplay goal but wouldn’t be able to get any more pucks past Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Check out the full RECAP from my colleague Mike Cratty.

The Story Line

Tonight’s key story line is mistakes. The Bruins put forth perhaps their most Bruin-like game in this one. They controlled play at 5v5 and kept events low. Their top line had good offensive zone time and won their matchups. Their powerplay netted a goal. Typically those are the key ingredients in a Boston victory and what drove them to the President’s Trophy.

However, their were some key breakdowns. The first goal came after a giveaway and poor defensive zone coverage on the ensuing backcheck. Halak misplayed a shot from the top of the circles waving, and missing, it with his glove hand. Ritchie continued ostracizing himself to Bruins fans with an undisciplined penalty that led to a goal against on the ensuing penalty kill. Hockey is a sport with limited scoring, about five goals, in an average game. They are scored because of amazing plays, bounces, or key mistakes. In this game, the Bruins mistakes cost them and put them in a potentially insurmountable hole.

The Stats

Corsi (shot attempts), Scoring Chances, and Expected Goals

5v5CFCACF%SCFSCASCF%xGFxGAxGF%
P115865.22%1614.29%0.20.6423.97%
P2151060.00%8561.54%0.960.2479.92%
P391537.50%5935.71%0.160.4526.65%
Game393354.17%142041.18%1.321.3349.90%
Data courtesy of NaturalStatTrick

This game featured a number of penalties which is important to note as both teams managed plenty of chances on the powerplay, and a goal apiece. To emphasize this point, the expected goals accounting for all situations was 3.09 for the Bruins to 2.07 for the Lightning. At 5v5, Boston made a point to get pucks to the net though at times their chances weren’t as quality as needed. The second period wad especially strong as the Bruins seemed to understand the importance of pushing back, down in the game and the series. The Lightning locked things down in the third keeping the Bruins at bay at even strength and weathering their powerplay and extra skater opportunities.

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Tampa Bay generated most of their shots right down the middle of the zone. Given the powerplay opportunities, and excluding a few sloppy plays in the first that led to odd-man rushes, the Bruins defense did an alright job of limiting the volume of chances. After seriously struggling in the first period to get shots and chances from dangerous areas, the Bruins did a much better job in the second and third periods. When they did generate high quality opportunities Andrei Vasilevskiy was perfect as the last line of defense.

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With all due respect to Matt Grzelcyk you’d prefer he not be atop this table. The top line, especially David Pastrnak, looked good through stretches of the game generating some good chances. They were strong in their match ups together posting 75% Corsi For and 69% expected goals for in about 9 minutes of 5v5 play. They also generated chances on the powerplay. Unfortunately they were held off the score sheet. Often for the Bruins, as the top line goes, so usually does the game.

In round one the David Krejci and Charlie Coyle lines were impactful. In this series they have been pretty quiet. Jake Debrusk did get on the board on the powerplay off of a pass from Coyle. At even strength, though neither line was bad, they were relatively quiet. The Krejci line limited their opponents to next to nothing and did have a couple opportunities in the third but wasn’t able to provide the necessary secondary scoring. The Karson Kuhlman experiment didn’t improve the results for Coyle and company. The fourth line had a good game overall but had a very rough sequence lead to the first, and game winning goal, for the Lightning.

On defense Brandon Carlo had one of his best games of the playoffs. He was more confident on his first pass and got up in the play on several occasions. His partner, Torey Krug, did not fare as well. His low game score was reflective of being on the ice for both even strength goals against. Even with all his powerplay time, he seems to be on the wrong side of the ledger throughout these playoffs. “Cliffy Hockey” was unfortunately not in force today with his most memorable moment an overzealous cross-checking penalty. Charlie McAvoy gave an earnest effort and tried to make things happen, especially in the second half of the game, after an up and down first part.

Halak made some big saves in this game. Unfortunately what will be remembered is his flub on Palat’s second goal. It was a bad goal at an extremely inopportune moment.

The Video Breakdown

Today we will look at the Lightning’s first goal of the game. It should highlight a couple key areas where the Bruins have been uncharacteristically poor. Let’s take a look and discuss.

The sequence here actually starts out really well. The Bruins do a great job in the neutral zone taking away time and space, something we discussed as essential in our tactical keys to game 4. However, they were sloppy on their counterattack. An errant pass from Chris Wagner gets intercepted by the omnipresent Brayden Point. The Bruins defensemen actually recover okay and turn this play into a 2v2, which is defended pretty well.

That is where things get messy. McAvoy slides past the net thinking the situation was more urgent and takes himself out of the play. Before we get to the crucial miscommunication, let’s just take a moment and marvel at the stick-handling clinic Point gave to Krug, literally a drill out of summer hockey school. Now that that’s out the way, The Bruins’ forwards backcheck hard. Unfortunately they don’t really pick anybody up. This is a prime case of working harder not smarter, and below is a great illustration of that.

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Their lack of coverage of Palat coming in late is a microcosm of several miscues of this kind, dating back to the round robin play. It cost the Bruins’ seeding and now may cost them their season.

Moment of the Night

It’s worth noting that while we are all excited about hockey resuming, there was a reason for the two day pause. Here are NHL players sharing the reason in their own words. Agree or disagree, it’s worth a listen.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 191 that we recorded below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

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