By: Nathan Anderson | Follow me on Twitter @ndrsn27
As we gear up for the start of another Bruins’ Stanley Cup run, I found myself caught up in the hype, playing a lot of NHL 21 on my PlayStation. As a writer here at BNG, I thought to myself “how could I use this for some content?” It was then that I decided that as long as the Bruins are making a run at Lord Stanley, I will follow them on their journey and simulate the game they are about to play before it happens on NHL 21. Hopefully, this is the start of a long series because that would mean that the B’s make a long run in the playoffs. Without further hesitation, I present the first game of the first round against the Capitals as predicted by EA Sports’ NHL 21.
In order to get the lines as close as I could to what they might be in real life, I looked at the Bruins’ most recent practice lines, according to their Twitter. This means that Trent Frederic was left out, as was Connor Clifton. In their place were Chris Wagner and Kevan Miller. Jeremy Swayman also rode the pine behind Tuukka Rask, but in favor of Jaroslav Halak.
In the past, Tuukka has had some struggles in Capital One Arena. Early in this simulation, it was no different. An early tripping penalty against Brad Marchand did not help the Bruins’ case, and less than 15 seconds into the power-play, Lars Eller gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead. He planted himself right in front of Rask and tapped home a feed that came out of the left corner from Tom Wilson. Washington would lock down their defensive zone for the rest of the period to take their lead into the second.
The Bruins came out ready to go in the second, and they found the equalizing goal relatively quickly. After a good zone entry, the Bruins second line got to work in the corners, cycling the puck before Craig Smith was able to find Taylor Hall. Hall walked out in front of the net and snapped a wrist shot into the far corner to tie the game. If the Bruins can get scoring like this from Hall in real life, it will go a long way to help their chances of making a deep run.
Unfortunately, penalty trouble again got the Bruins in trouble. It was not on the powerplay this time, but on a delayed penalty Tom Wilson was able to find some space in the slot and wired a wrist shot past Rask’s glove hand. For those counting, that would be one goal and one assist for Wilson so far in this simulated game. Hopefully, the most controversial player in the league does not show up like that in real life when these teams meet on Saturday.
If the Bruins are going to have success in this series, they need to keep Alexander Ovechkin quiet on the scoreboard. Unfortunately, the virtual Bruins were not able to do that. Just under two minutes into the third period, the “Great Eight” broke into the Bruins’ zone past the defense and capitalized on his breakaway. He relied on his lethal forehand to chip the puck over Rask’s shoulder and increase the Washington lead to 3-1.
The Bruins were finally able to kill off a penalty about five minutes later, and after stepping out of the penalty box Brandon Carlo went on the attack. The normally defensive-minded defenseman took the puck down the right side and was able to slide it back towards the slot before being crunched into the boards by former teammate Zdeno Chara. Sean Kuraly was the quickest to the loose puck, and he was able to tuck it inside the near post past the Capitals’ goaltender to cut the Washington lead in half.
Penalties once again got the better of the Bruins, however, and they found themselves down a man with about five and a half minutes left in the game. Evgeny Kuznetsov ripped a shot wide early in the powerplay before collecting the puck again at the top of the right faceoff circle just 15 seconds later. This time he did not miss, and the Capitals regained their two-goal lead.
The Bruins put together a late push to try and get a goal back late in the game, but it was not meant to be. Efforts by David Krejci and Craig Smith were stopped, and the Bruins dropped game one 4-2 in this simulation. Hopefully, we see a different result in real life, but it would be nice to see Taylor Hall get on the scoresheet!
Final Score: Bruins 2 – Capitals 4
Tune in Saturday, May 15 at 7:15 pm on NBC for Game 1 of the series against Washington! If you’re just tuning into the NHL season this year, where have you been? But more importantly, check out this series preview written by BNG writer Zach Carlone.