Kuraly Plays Key Role in Bruins’ Success

(Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

By: Carrie Salls | Check me out on Twitter @nittgrl73

Sean Kuraly did not score in the Bruins’ 4-0 Eastern Conference Championship-clinching game on Thursday. In fact, he recorded just one shot.

Although the fourth-line center did lead all Boston centers in the game with 18:16 of time on ice, only four fewer seconds than top TOI forward Brad Marchand, one of Kuraly’s biggest contributions to Thursday night’s win may have actually come from his play in the first few games of the series against the Carolina Hurricanes, namely game three.

According to a Tweet from Brian Messenger of NBC 10 Boston, Bruins Coach Bruce Cassidy and his coaching staff used the play of Kuraly and the other fourth liners as a teaching tool for the team’s first line, frequently dubbed “The Perfection Line.”

The results of that coaching move were evident, as the first line returned to dominant form in the series clincher.

It’s not particularly surprising that Cassidy turned to the game tapes highlighting Kuraly and his linemates to provide some inspiration to first-line stars Patrice Bergeron, Marchand and David Pastrnak. The coach has long sung the praises of the ability of 26-year-old Dublin, Ohio, native Kuraly’s speed and his ability to get the puck out of the defensive zone and maintain possession.

Cassidy has also turned to Kuraly’s line on numerous occasions to start games, relying on the line’s high-energy, physical nature.

Throughout what is to date the Bruins’ most successful campaign since 2013, Kuraly’s teammates have recognized his skill and importance to the team, as well.

Of course, Kuraly is no stranger to the playoffs and big-game success. Most Bruins fans got their first real look at just what the former Miami University captain can do in high-stakes games when he burst onto the scene to score the game-tying goal and game-winner in the second overtime period of the first-round playoff game against the Ottawa Senators in April 2017.

Kuraly’s playoff success continued with four points in the 2017-2018 postseason, which ended when the Bruins lost in the division finals round to the Tampa Bay Lightning. So far in the team’s 2018-2019 playoff run, Kuraly has amassed five points, including two goals and three assists, despite the fact that he missed the first four games of the Toronto series while recovering from a broken hand suffered blocking a shot late in the regular season.

Some of number 52’s big-game magic was evident during the regular season this year too, highlighted by the game-winning goal scored against the Buffalo Sabres in the final game in 2018, the eventual game-winner scored in the Winter Classic on Jan. 1 at Notre Dame Stadium against the Chicago Blackhawks and a memorable three-point night against the Maple Leafs in Toronto on Jan. 12.

After coming back from the hand injury, it didn’t take long for Kuraly’s big-game presence to be felt in Game 7 against the Leafs, as he scored a crucial goal that gave the Bruins a 3-1 lead and seemed to turn the tide of momentum solidly in Boston’s favor.

In just his second full season as a Boston Bruin and still in the first year of a three-year contract signed in July 2018, Kuraly’s teammates and coaches, and Bruins fans, certainly have reason to be excited about Sean Kuraly’s non-stop energy and big-game prowess.

Bruins Senior Core Vital to Playoff Success

( Photo Credit: John Tlumacki / msn.com )

By: Chris Greene  |  Follow me on Twitter @cgreenesports

The Boston Bruins could secure their place in the Eastern Conference Finals tonight with a win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. The resurgence of the B’s first line has underpinned the importance of their senior core.

After tweaking the lineup for most of the playoffs, head coach, Bruce Cassidy, restored one of the most formidable lines in hockey for game five against Columbus, and it worked. Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak combined for a total of six points, three goals and three assists in the 4-3 win. Up until game five, the Blue Jackets had done a great job of neutralizing all three players.

Marchand and Bergeron led the Bruins forwards in ice time in game five, and the latter was hugely effective in the face-off circle, when he wasn’t tossed out anyway. Hockey is a team sport, but it is no secret that Boston depends on these two, especially against tough opposition like Columbus. Many suspect Bergeron has been playing with an injury like he has in the past, but he is still contributing to this team. We probably won’t find out if he is hurt until the B’s season ends, but injured or not, Bergy will be crucial for the rest of the playoffs.

The Stanley Cup playoffs are notoriously physical, David Backes has certainly bought the heat since returning to the lineup. The veteran forward has seen his role significantly reduced this season, but that hasn’t affected his effort. He has made a number of hits in the Columbus series and his physical style has been a real help to the Bruins. The former St. Louis Blues captain brings a lot of experience to the team, he is always vocal and that will be a boost for the younger players. He might not start every game, but Backes will play an important part if the B’s advance to the next round.

At 42 years of age, Zdeno Chara continues to defy time as a top pairing NHL defenseman. He has spent the third-most time on the ice of all the Bruins this postseason, and most of that time has been against the oppositions best lines. Chara is also an integral part of the B’s penalty kill. It’s common knowledge that he’s lost his speed, but he makes up for it with his reach and ability to read the game, which is often overlooked by his critics. Big Z has been the Bruins captain since 2006 and his leadership is second to none. He is an important part of a relatively young defensive group including Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo and Matt Grzelcyk.

They say there are no easy games in the NHL, that’s especially true in the playoffs. When things haven’t gone well for the Bruins one man has bailed them out time and time again, Tuukka Rask. The Finnish goaltender continues to polarize the Bruins fan base, but he has been one of the teams best players during the postseason. The Bruins have come up against two great goalies in Frederik Andersen and Sergei Bobrovsky, but the Maple Leafs and Blue Jackets will feel that they also met their match in Rask. NBC’s coverage has many critics, but hearing Doc Emrick shout “Saved by Rask” is extremely satisfying.

The Bruins need to win one more game against Columbus to advance into the Eastern Conference Finals. The Blue Jackets will not make it easy for them, but whatever happens moving forward, Boston’s senior core will be vital to their success.

No Better Time Than “Now” For Bruins

Image result for bruins columbus win(Photo Credit: The Boston Globe)

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @00EvanMichael

The Black N’ Gold should heed the lyrical advice of Tina Turner’s Goldeneye:

“But now my time has come and time, time is not on your side!”

Not perhaps for Zdeno Chara, 42, who is using EVERYTHING left in the tank to compete for the Cup in what could be his penultimate NHL season.

Not perhaps for the Davids — Krecji, 33, and Backes, 35, who know their mid-30’s are the period in a professional hockey player’s career where talents & abilities begin to fade and the skates don’t move as quickly as they used to, despite their impressive leadership qualities.

And perhaps not for, I hate to write it, Patrice Bergeron, 33, who continues to play through what many are speculating has to be a painful injury ala the way he has played in multiple previous injury-plagued playoff campaigns (one can only imagine the consistent & constant toll that takes on the no-longer-in-your-20’s body).

Yet, for all the worry & concern leading up to game four of the Columbus series — a game that many experts/bloggers/pundits/broadcasters/etc. were saying was a “must win” for the Bruins including this guy — all of the above players raised their games to match the already raised stakes. And did they ever lay it all out on the ice to get that “must win” — a rough & tumble 4-1 affair that saw Tuukka Rask play his most inspired netminding while not minding the fact that he was often left out to dry… especially on the B’s PP.

The series, as we all know, is now tied 2-2 and heading back to Boston where the barn will no doubt be burnin’ (proverbially speaking) after the B’s, and their social media supporters, stirred up plenty of puck-citement.

And needing now only 2-out-of-3 wins to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals (with two of those games potentially coming on home ice), to match up against either the “Jerks” from Hartford, North Carolina or the Tavares-less Islanders from Brooklyn is it?, the Bruins find themselves in an enviable playoff position. After all, no one expected this series to be happening (Tampa’s bolt from the 1st round was indeed an eye-bulging surprise) nor the Caps & Pens to no longer be competing. The same can be said for the match-ups out West. Truly, there is no better opportunity for the B’s to gas up the engines and make a serious drive to the Stanley Cup Finals.

As most who follow the game recognize, the road to hoisting Lord Stanley’s coveted cup is the longest, bumpiest and at times most dangerous in all of professional sports. The B’s have overcame a mountain of impediments this season — injuries & aging among the most aggravating. Yet, here they are… poised for a run at a championship despite all of the above. And with a path to “the Cup” more passable (and attainable) than any recent playoff setup.

There’s another golden Goldeneye nugget that will behoove the Black N’ Gold:

“…how it feels to get so close and be denied.”

All of those valuable veterans who are fighting for each other (and perhaps even Father Time as well) know this feeling. And outside of the momentous Cup run that was 2011, they know it all too well. So, why not make the most of what’s in front of them? Why not realize there may be no better time than NOW to bring yet another championship back to Boston?

Image result for bruins win(Photo Credit: NBC Sports)

Well, with age there also comes wisdom. And the B’s would certainly be wise to take advantage of where they are and where they want to go before this season ends.

What The Bruins Need To Do To Get Back In This Series

Columbus Blue Jackets' Matt Duchene, top right, scores a goal against Boston Bruins' Tuukka Rask, of Finland, during the second period of Game 3 of an NHL hockey second-round playoff series Tuesday, April 30, 2019, in Nationwide Arena.

(JAY LAPRETE / AP)

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @lucaspearson_

The Bruins have done a lot of what needs to be done to win a series. They’ve gotten really good goaltending from Tuukka Rask, they’ve gotten a lot of really important depth goals out of their bottom six, and overall, they’ve played pretty damn good defense. But clearly, they aren’t playing perfect hockey as they’re down 2-1 in the series. Here are a few important things the Bruins will need to do to come back in this series against Columbus.

Figure Out Bobrovsky

Captain obvious here but the Bruins need to find a way to get a couple past the Blue Jackets’ goalie. Sergei Bobrovsky has been incredible this entire playoff run, but his playoff struggles of the past can’t be forgotten. Even with his outstanding numbers this season (.937 save percentage and a 1.88 GAA) he has a measly .902 save % and a 3.08 GAA. If the Bruins can put up four or five on him in a game, then the nerves may start to kick in, and Bobrovsky could start to falter.

 

Boston Bruins forward David Pastrnak, right, of the Czech Republic, controls the puck against Columbus Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno during an NHL hockey game in Columbus, Ohio, Tuesday, April 2, 2019. The Bruins won 6-2. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)

(AP Photo/Paul Vernon)

Fix the Powerplay

To say it has been bad would be an understatement. The Bruins are just 1/10 on the PP this series, and it seems that every time they get on the man advantage, it just kills their momentum. The first powerplay unit HAS to change. I think Marcus Johansson is incredible at gaining the zone which is very important to a powerplay, but he just isn’t the right guy to be in front of the net. I would rather see him on the second unit either in the bumper position (where Bergeron plays) or on the right side half-wall (where Marchand plays).

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It seems Jake Debrusk will move back up to the number one unit and take Johansson’s place, but I think a guy like David Backes, who looks to be entering the lineup next game, would be the best fit there. While age has been getting the better of him as of late, he still has a nose for the net and sees the puck really well. He’s got very good hand-eye coordination and could really be a nuisance for Bobrovsky and the Columbus defense to handle in front of the net.

 

Adam Glanzman / Getty Images

Have the First Line do… Something

Yikes. The trio of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak have one point this entire series, and that one point was a goal off of Pastrnak’s skate. The worst of the bunch has been the goal scorer Pastrnak. Maybe he’s playing through an injury, but everything, his skating, his shooting, his decision making, all of it has been off. Coach Cassidy tried to jump-start the struggling Pastrnak by putting him on the third line with the best two Bruins this series, Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson, and it just ruined what the two had going before Game Three. Towards the tail-end of Game Three, the Czechman was reunited with his former linemates and had a few solid shifts to end off the game. Hopefully, that is a sign of things to come.

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Brad Marchand should try to stick to scoring goals and not his old devilish ways, or we might not see Marchy too much more this series. Patrice Bergeron hasn’t been bad. He’s had a lot of quality scoring chances and has done a good job neutralizing the Blue Jacket’s top line, but just like the rest of his linemates, he just looks off. Bruce Cassidy will stick with his guns and keep the “perfection” line together going into Game Four, hopefully, this major slump can only last so long

Stop Giving the Puck Away

Plain and simple, way too many costly turnovers.

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Bruins “Pucked” by Puck Luck & More

Image result for bruins blue jackets game 3(Photo Credit: NBC Sports)

By: Evan Michael | Follow me on Twitter @00EvanMichael

The score was 2-1. The series is now 2-1. But the Bruins’ chances of erasing that deficit to the stingy (and sting-y) Columbus Blue Jackets are more like 100-1. Maybe even higher barring some miracle of health, happenstance or holy intervention for the “top line” of Patrice “we all know he’s injured” Bergeron; Brad “shoot the fricken puck” Marchand; and David “just bench him already” Pastrnak.

I think Lynne from Methuen hit the nail on the [exploding] head with the above tweet: the beaten Bruins are truly beating themselves so far in this series, which–if they don’t turn things around immediately in game four ala the Toronto matchup–will amount to nothing more than cannon fodder for a fanbase already sick of cannons, fodder & forwards who refuse to score.

One thing they can do, right along with their intrepid dinged-up D-men is ding pucks off posts at a rate more consistent & expected than a Bruce Cassidy lineup shuffle. To say the Bruins missed the mark on most of their scoring opportunities would be akin to Hans telling a young Gordon Bombay that clinking one off the iron is only “an inch” away from missing the net altogether. Which, to be honest, has also happened at an alarming rate both in this game and the previous two at TD Garden.

Oh, did I mention the B’s also took turns ringing the crossbar as well? All of this, of course, being sandwiched between Sergei Bobrovsky serving the Black N’ Gold a nice helping of glove, blocker, stick, pad & mask. I mean… I know the guy’s good, but is he really THIS good? Or are Boston’s best squeezing their collective sticks so hard they’re making it look a lot worse than it really is?

I think it’s a combination of both. Especially when you consider for the FIRST time in NHL history the B’s actually got a bit of proverbial puck luck when “the call on the ice” was overturned and Jake DeBrusk was rightfully credited with Boston’s lone goal of the game at the end of the second period — a goal that should have energized the bungled Bruins and led to a third period comeback of memorable praise & momentum-shifting glory.

Alas, it all was for naught. And so too will this entire series, second season & playoff run be unless the Bruins actually show up and play like we all know this team is capable of. After all, aren’t the playoffs all about playing through injuries, manning up or having “the next man up,” and most poignant & prominent of all — making your own puck luck?

Maybe that’s what the B’s should start doing. Or else, they’re all pucked.

Bruins Hope Rest Will Re-Awaken Top Dogs

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( Photo Credit: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images )

By: Cameron McCusker | Follow Me On Twitter: @CSthinks

The Boston Bruins are in absolutely no position to panic or feel worried about the state of their team, and as such, neither are the fans. The unexpected truth of the series is objectively more encouraging than worrisome, and this truth is that the Bruins have outplayed the Columbus Blue Jackets, despite Boston’s best players being somewhat invisible through two games.

Ideally, the Black and Gold’s entire roster should be firing on all cylinders at this point in the spring. However, to find themselves in an even series with a second-round opponent despite getting subpar play from almost every single one of their leaders (aside from Tuukka Rask, who has been stellar), is a testament to just how good this Bruins team is and will be when they can put together a full effort.

Picking Up Slack/Depth

There are several things to smile about (from a Bruins’ perspective) when examining the facts of how the B’s have gotten to this point in the series. The first and foremost of which is the aforementioned notion that they have objectively been successful despite being without the “A-games” of their best players. Not only does this allow the mind to wander when imagining how much more effective Boston will be when things start to click, but it affords observers an opportunity to appreciate the depth that the Bruins are employing on the ice.

As depth—particularly at the forward positions—had been a prominent issue identified by management (and many a Bruins fan), it is enthralling to see that when deadline acquisitions and bottom-six forwards are playing to their capabilities, they are able to carry the load when their leaders are sluggish.

With this being said, anticipating a resurgence among the Bruins leading scorers—Bergeron, Marchand, Pastrnak, DeBrusk—might indeed be a justified line of thinking. While most players are prone to periods of quiet play and ineffectiveness from time to time, very seldom have Bruins fans come to see the play of their leaders falter so simultaneously. As troublesome as the decline in their effectiveness has been, to expect it to continue for much longer would truly be hoping for a longshot, especially given the pedigrees of the respective Bruins’ leaders.

 

If the series has been even with the Bruins top-six forwards playing some of their worst hockey, then it would be well within reason to expect the Bruins to take control of the series with just a small improvement in the efforts of their top-scorers.

Defensively

The Bruins’ efforts defensively have somewhat mirrored the play of their forwards, though in perhaps a less salient manner. Simply, they have been unable to put together a game in which all members of their D-core are playing to their capabilities.

Aside from Brandon Carlo. He has been flat out impressive.

Game 2 saw a decent performance from most members of the Bruin’s defensive units, yet individually there are, in most cases, things to point to that highlight inconsistency. Defensively, Carlo, Clifton, and Krug played relatively mistake-free hockey.

Krug, however, “quarterbacked” a first powerplay unit that was at best underwhelming. In moments where the prowess of the powerplay (Prowerplay?! I’m so sorry…) was needed most—specifically a three-minute advantage following the surrendering of an absolute giveaway of a goal—they failed to piece together any sustained pressure or scoring opportunities. As such, an energized and motivated Columbus team seized the momentum of the man-advantage.

Zdeno Chara’s failed clear on a second-period penalty kill was costly, and (like the laughable Charlie Coyle turnover that would come later in that same period) provided Columbus with both a goal and a surge of energy they would ride throughout the rest of the game.   Charlie McAvoy’s play featured significant lapses in judgment in some of the most important moments of the game, specifically in the overtime periods. The most notable of these blunders were an ill-advised pinch which led to a high-percentage scoring chance by Jackets captain Nick Foligno, and another play in which McAvoy got WALKED (dangled, breezed, torched, take your pick) by Foligno on his way to another grade-A scoring chance. Fortunately for McAvoy, in both instances Tuukka was equal to the task*, robbing Foligno of both would-be game-winners.   *Big credit to me for not rhyming “Rask” with “task” there.

 

Albeit concerning, these faults in the performances of key members of the Bruins point to an evident truth: with some tightening of the screws, and a commitment to playing the style of hockey that made them successful all year, the Bruins should be right back in the driver’s seat of this series.

With the AUX cord. In complete control.

Rest

Columbus came into the series with much more than a week of rest. The Bruin’s entered the series with barely over one day of rest. The Bruins have outperformed a well-rested and relatively healthy Columbus team despite Boston’s tired and beaten up roster, whose best players have yet to shine in the postseason. While many might point to the idea that perhaps Columbus had “too much rest,” the effects of being out of competitive situations for so long likely wouldn’t last longer than a period or two. Quite simply, the Bruins have outplayed Columbus without once having more than a day in between games to recharge…until now.

 

The Jackets are about to get a rested Bruins team in Columbus, something they haven’t seen since Game 80 of the regular season. The Bruins won that one 6-2, by the way.

 

I’m not sure if the Columbus players or fans wear boots. But if they do, then now might be a good time to start shaking in them.

Something’s Gotta Give: Pastrnak Bumped To Third Line

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photo credit: USA Today sports

By: Mandi Mahoney | Check me out on twitter @phoneymahoney

Bruce Cassidy needs to get his team going in order to prevent having their backs against the wall as they did for two games straight in the first round versus the Toronto Maple Leafs. Yesterday, the Bruins tweeted their practice lines, and to the surprise (and even dismay) of many, right wing David Pastrnak was playing on the third line alongside trade deadline acquisitions Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson. Pastrnak’s playoff stats may not quite show it, but anyone who has watched even a period of Boston Bruins hockey this postseason can tell as plain as day that Pastrnak is seriously struggling to play at the level we are all used to seeing from him.

Since the beginning of the playoffs, Pastrnak has been turning the puck over constantly, taking weak shots, and totally missing the mark when passing. Even worse, he has passed the puck instead of taking shots on many scoring opportunities While this has been a problem through the Bruins’ top six, Pastrnak has looked to be struggling more than most.  In fact, his travails have led many people to assume he is concealing some sort of upper body injury, as his skating appears to be fine. This gluten-free Pasta is not getting it done, and the Bruins’ coaching staff must address the issues with his game.

Pastrnak has notched three goals and assisted on four for a total of seven points in nine playoff games. That’s a respectable number, but it’s not what the team or its fans have come to expect from Pasta. Typically, when the Bruins need a big goal, Head Coach Bruins Cassidy can put his top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and Pastrnak on the ice and have a reasonably good chance to get the goal he needs out of them. The problem this postseason is that all three of them are struggling, and it’s been brutal to watch.

With Pastrnak skating on the third line instead of the first, two-way wing Danton Heinen will be skating in his place with Bergeron and Marchand. Some fans are wondering what playing on the third line will do for a guy who is having trouble finding his game, and the answer typically is that it will get him back to basics and help him simplify his game. If a scorer is having trouble putting the biscuit in the basket, then he needs to at least be playing strongly otherwise, and at the moment, Pastrnak is not. Playing with Coyle and Johansson will likely give Pastrnak a chance to do so.

This should not be looked at as a punishment in any way — coaches need to move players around the lineup when things aren’t working — and the top line isn’t working right now, so here we are. If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got, right? As a fan base, we cannot complain about a coach’s unwillingness to change his lineup or move players from line to line (this was a gripe often heard about former Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien), and then complain about where those players end up at the same time. That’s a total double standard, so let’s give this a chance.

Another thing to consider here is that if Pastrnak plays on the third line and things aren’t clicking, Cassidy can always move him back to skate alongside one of the centers he’s used to, whether that center be Patrice Bergeron, or David Krejci. This is not permanent, nor is it a punishment. Cassidy has to make changes to his lines, or he’s cutting off his nose to spite his face. He cannot worry about players’ and fans’ feelings during a playoff run. Furthermore, Pastrnak will still be playing on the power play (and scored during a power play drill in practice), so the Bruins are still going to rely on him offensively. Third line duty will hopefully help him get his groove back, though.

Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson will likely benefit from having such a speedy, skilled wing on their line, as well. With Coyle’s defensively responsible grinding game, and Johansson’s silky-soft hands, putting the three together could turn out to be a match made in heaven. It will also make the lineup deeper and give the Bruins a more balanced attack, especially since that leaves energetic rookie Karson Kuhlman playing right wing on the second line, with Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci, who are not producing to their standards lately, either.

If the Bruins come out of the tunnel flying like they didn’t during game one, and Pastrnak can settle his nerves a bit and get back to basics, the Bruins can absolutely win game three against the Blue Jackets in hostile territory… even if there’s a cannon involved. Of course, if the Bruins don’t want to hear the cannon, they could always shut Columbus out. Hopefully these line changes help the offense get moving again tonight.

Bruins Post-Game Recap: ECSF Game 2: Columbus at Boston: 4/27/19

charlie-coyle-bruins-blue-jacketsPhoto Courtesy Of Sports Illustrated

By: Garrett Haydon | Follow Me On Twitter @thesportsguy97

Pre-Game Notes

Arena: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts

Home: Boston Bruins (5-3)

Away: Columbus Blue Jackets (4-1)

Boston’s Lineup

Forwards

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

DeBrusk-Krejci-Heinen

Johansson-Coyle-Wagner

Nordstrom-Kuraly-Acciari

Defense

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Grzelcyk-Clifton

Goalies

Rask

Halak

Columbus’s Lineup

Forwards

Panarin-Dubois-Atkinson

Foligno-Duchene-Anderson

Texier-Wennberg-Bjorkstrand

Dubinsky-Jenner-Nash

Defense

Werenski-Jones

Kukan-Savard

Harrington-Clendening

Goalies

Bobrovsky

Korpisalo

First Period

Both teams got off to an energetic start especially the Bruins who threw their weight around with a few big hits. Neither team was able to get much of an attacking rhythm in the early going as not many shots were attempted. The Bruins would go to the power play with 13:31 left in the period as Josh Anderson went off for interference in front of the Boston net. Matt Grzelcyk found the back of the net over a minute into the man advantage to give the Bruins the lead.

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The Blue Jackets responded with a good shift which nearly resulted in them tying the game but the B’s defense remained strong. The game began to get a bit more physical especially after a battle in the corner in the Columbus end. The Bruins started to find an offensive rhythm with a few chances in the attacking zone but the score remained the same.

Columbus continued to have trouble generating scoring chances which resulted in them scrambling their forward lines to find some offense late in the period. A scrum behind the Boston goal after the period ended continued the physical tone the period had.

Score: 1-0 Bruins

Second Period

The Blue Jackets picked up a power play at the end of the period as Brad Marchand served his first penalty of the postseason. Artemi Panarin blasted home the tying goal on the man advantage just over a minute into the middle period.

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The Bruins answered right back with a goal less than a minute after the Panarin goal as Charlie Coyle banked a puck in off of David Pastrnak past Sergei Bobrovsky as the B’s regained the lead.

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The Blue Jackets responded once again with a solid shift in the Boston end following the go ahead goal. The B’s would go shorthanded again as Zdeno Chara was called for tripping Cam Atkinson with under 14 minutes left in the period. The Bruins caught a break while shorthanded as Anderson was guilty of a high stick on Sean Kuraly which resulted in a four on four. Panarin made it two goals on the night after a bad turnover in the defensive zone and the Blue Jackets tied the game once again.

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The Blue Jackets killed off the ensuing power play despite the Bruins moving the puck very effectively. The second period had a much more frenzied pace as both teams skated very well but the Bruins continued to have trouble with turnovers especially in the defensive zone.

Score: Tied 2-2

Third Period

The Bruins got some solid scoring chances in the opening moments of the final period but were unable to solve Bobrovsky for a third time. The B’s seemed to be the aggressor in early going of the third, generating sone pressure in the offensive zone. Shots were hard to come by and the Bruins continued to pass up scoring opportunities to make an extra pass. The B’s started to struggle in the defensive zone as Columbus brought some pressure toward the midway point of the period.

Atkinson went to the box with 9:12 to go for tripping as the B’s looked to get the lead back. Boston failed to get any momentum on the man advantage as they couldn’t even manage a shot on goal. A long run of continuous play yielded a few scoring chances for both teams but neither could find the back of the net going into the final moments of regulation. Tuukka Rask made a gigantic save on Nick Foligno in the final minute to preserve the tie going into overtime.

End of Regulation: Tied 2-2

Overtime

Rask robbed Foligno yet again in the opening minutes of overtime with a ridiculous glove save off of a two on one rush. The Bruins held much of the possession in the early going of the extra period but couldn’t find any great scoring chances. A crazy bounce nearly went past Bobrovsky for the winning goal but he made the glove save on the bounce just over six minutes gone in the overtime. A couple of huge saves by Bobrovsky on Patrice Bergeron kept the game tied.

Charlie McAvoy took a high sticking penalty about halfway through the overtime period as Columbus looked to tie the series with a goal on the man advantage. The Bruins killed off the penalty as the Blue Jackets failed to get any legitimate chances in the offensive zone. Bergeron again has a great chance late in the session but Bobrovsky made another huge stop.

First Overtime: Tied 2-2

Second Overtime

Rask made another big save after a bad turnover in the defensive zone just seconds into the second overtime off the stick of Boone Jenner. Bergeron was whistled for tripping in the opening minutes of the second overtime session as the Blue Jackets got another chance on the man advantage. Matt Duchene ended it with a rebound goal in front on the man advantage as Columbus evened the series.

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Final Score: 3-2 Blue Jackets

Three Stars Of The Game

First Star: Bobrovsky. The game’s best player made the biggest saves in Game 2 and was the main reason why the Blue Jackets evened the series.

Second Star: Panarin. The Russian winger was outstanding and tallied three points in the victory for Columbus.

Third Star: Rask. The Bruins goaltender kept them in the game with a couple big saves in the overtime sessions but ultimately came up a bit short.

7 Factors That Will Decide Game 7 Between the Bruins and Maple Leafs

Illustration for article titled Tuukka Rask Ruined The Maple Leafs' Best And Maybe Last Chance

(Claus Andersen-Getty Images)

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @lucaspearson_

Goaltending

I mean, of course this was going to be on the list. We’ve seen really strong, and really weak goaltending from both Tuukka Rask and Frederik Anderson over the past two series. Outside of a softy or two from both guys, the two have been really solid throughout the first six games of this series. Rask has a .921 save percentage with a 2.54 GAA and Anderson has a .925 SV% and a 2.70 GAA. With the potency of both offenses and some questionable defense by both teams, I can’t see this being a 1-0 game. There will be goals, it’s just a matter of who can make the saves when it matters.

Can the Offensive Stars Produce?

The superstars on both sides have been very on and off all series. Austin Matthews has lead the way for Toronto, scoring five goals in the six games (but in all honesty, hasn’t really dominated at any point). The Bruins top defensive pair of Charlie Mcavoy and Zdeno Chara have done an excellent job shutting down the John Tavares and Mitch Marner line, but with all of that talent, how long can that last?

The trio of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak have been very streaky throughout the series for the Bruins. We all know how dangerous they can be when they’re on their game (they all absolutely torched the Leafs last series) but something has been off with them this series and for the Bruins sake, that better change.

Leafs vs Bruins

(THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)

Special Teams

We’ve seen how important special teams have been in this series and throughout the entire playoffs. The Nashville Predators just fell to the Dallas Stars, largely in part to their horrendous powerplay (going 0-15 in the series). Boston and Toronto both have very good powerplays, with Toronto converting on 21.4% of their PP chances and the Bruins scoring on a staggering 43.8% of their chances. There’s no question the game will be a chippy one and I’d assume the referees arms will stay down for most of the game, but when a penalty is called, converting on that opportunity will be huge.

Forechecking

In Game 7 last year, the Bruins hard-nosed forechecking was a big reason why they were able to come back and take the lead late. In the games the Bruins have lost this series, they haven’t been able to maintain consistent pressure in the Leafs zone. The Maple Leafs defense is very susceptible to making mistakes with the puck when pressured so that needs to be the Bruins #1 priority throughout this game.

Forechecking obviously isn’t just a component of the Bruins game, it’s just as important for the Leafs to keep the pressure on the Bs. Putting pressure on smaller guys like Torey Krug and Matt Grzelcyk will be huge for the Maple Leafs, they’re easier to out-muscle compared to the rest of the d-core and getting them to cough up the puck will lead to big-time chances for Toronto. Isolating Zdeno Chara is also just as key, as he certainly doesn’t have the legs to keep up with Toronto’s speedy forwards.

Depth Scoring

Depth scoring is a key component of every single game and it’s just magnified in the playoffs. Guys like Charlie Coyle and Andreas Johnsson (who both have had very strong series) have key roles with their respective clubs. If the big names aren’t able to step up, look for these middle-six guys to pick up the slack.

(Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

Maintaining a Lead

Scoring the first goal is massive, but keeping that lead is even more important. The team that has been ahead going into the third period has won every game this series and with every player fighting for their playoff lives, there’s sure to be a lot of pressure on both sides of the bench. Looking at the history between these two teams, the Maple Leafs have held the lead going in to the 3rd period in the past two game 7s, but have lost both after outstanding comebacks by the Bruins. If the Maple Leafs or the Bruins want to get to the next round, maintaining a lead will be the reason they get there.

Matchups

Despite having a combined -10 rating in the series, Nikita Zaitzev and Jake Muzzin have done a pretty good job at keeping the Bruins top line in check. Unlike last series, the Bruins top line hasn’t been nearly as good. They haven’t been able to maintain possession of the puck quite as much and their cycling game, which leads to the majority of their chances, is nothing like it has been all season long. If Toronto wants to keep this line at bay, trying to keep this matchup will be their best bet.

As I said before, Mcavoy and Chara have done an excellent job holding Tavares and Marner to minimal offense in this series. With last change and home ice advantage, coach Bruce Cassidy will have to be on his game to keep the matchups in he wants throughout his lineup.

Regardless of the outcome, this should be a great game as it always is. I’ve had Bruins in seven from the start and I’m sticking with that pick. Go Bs.

Seven Key Bruins Who Need To Perform In Game Seven

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photo credit: Matthew J. Lee / Boston Globe staff

By: Mandi Mahoney | Check me out on twitter @phoneymahoney

For the third time in seven seasons, the Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs will be facing off in a seven game playoff series. The Bruins made a legendary comeback to win in 2013, and won again in 2018. Should the following players keep their heads in the game and perform to their capabilities, there is no reason the Bruins can’t advance to the second round again.

Tuukka Rask

Always a controversial topic among Bruins fans, Rask has had a whirlwind season. Things started off ugly with a blowout loss to the Washington Capitals, then there was a short leave of absence, followed by some streaky play. All in all, the Finnish goaltender has been solid, but not world class, this season, putting up a 2.48 goals against average, and a save percentage of .912. He was very good in game 5, but the rest of the team wasn’t, so the Leafs were able to take the series lead. His performance on Easter Sunday was masterful, and the Bruins went on to force game 7 by nothing a 4-2 win.

The Bruins will need another great performance out of Rask, as nothing takes the wind out of their sails like a bad goal can. Obviously the team defense has allowed Rask to be tested far more than he should be, but the Finnish netminder is going to have to overcome his skaters’ shortcomings if the Bruins are going to advance to the Conference Semifinals. It’s certainly not encouraging when the team is giving up breakaways to a star studded roster of forwards on the regular, but these goals need to be prevented nonetheless. However frustrating it may be, Rask has got to keep his head in the game, as he has for the last two games.

Torey Krug

Torey Krug is another player some Bruins fans love to hate. Sometimes their annoyance is understandable, especially during the last six games, as the puck has jumped over his stick at the blueline multiple times this series, causing a breakaway for the Leafs, or at the very least, squandering an offensive opportunity for the Bruins. Krug, however, is a double-edged sword: the Bruins employ a high-risk, high-reward strategy during the power play, and Krug is a vital piece when they’re on the man advantage. The Bruins also have trouble breaking out of their own zone cleanly when he’s not on the ice, so while he may leave something to be desired defensively, he is indispensable to this Bruins team.

If the Black and Gold want to be successful in game 7, Torey Krug will have to keep his nerves in check, and will have to try and avoid the blue line mishaps that have been his calling card lately. At the very least, he’s going to have to do what he does best: make up for his defensive gaffes by scoring or setting up goals. His offensive talent is fantastic, and he’s going to have to bring it tonight for the Bruins to get the win.

Brandon Carlo

As Torey Krug’s defensive partner, Brandon Carlo will naturally be responsible for a lot defensively. No good offensive defenseman can do what he does without a good shutdown partner, and Carlo is exactly that. Brandon Carlo has played very well in this, his maiden playoff voyage, and he’s going to need to be aggressive and keep his head in the game tonight. Toronto’s top two forward lines are no joke, and they’ve been jumping on breakaway chances repeatedly during this series. Carlo is going to have to do his best to keep the door to the crease closed tonight.

David Krejci

Having led the NHL in postseason scoring twice before, the Bruins’ second line center is known to have a lycanthropic streak, where he turns into am absolute beast once the postseason begins. Krejci Beast Mode is here again in 2019, and it needs to make its presence known in game 7. At this point, Krejci has scored 2 goals and assisted on two more in six playoff games. Four points doesn’t sound like much, but Krejci brings more than points to the table. He’s been playing the body all series, hitting anyone and everyone he can. The Czech center can also play well without the puck, so the Bruins are able to rely upon him a bit defensively, as well.

Ideally, Krejci will be centering Jake DeBrusk and David Pastrnak tonight. The combination of Pastrnak’s speed and shot combined with DeBrusk’s straight-line speed and love for crashing the net match perfectly with Krejci’s bizarre ability to slow the game down and allow his teammates to get to where they need to be before making the magic happen. If Krejci continues to play like a man possessed and he’s skating with DeBrusk and Pastrnak, good things will happen for the Bruins’ offense. Like they say, as David Krejci goes, so go the Bruins.

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photo credit: Maddie Meyer / Getty Images

Jake DeBrusk

Jake DeBrusk is all heart, and is exactly the kind of player you want on your roster for games like this. He emits this “young Mark Recchi” aura, and it is wonderful. His going head-to-head with Nazem Kadri and causing him to be suspended for most of the series was entertaining, and actually pretty important. DeBrusk has only scored one goal and assisted on another in the six games he’s played in this series, though, and that will have to change if they’re going to make a run of this.

Playing alongside the Czech Davids is both a gift and a responsibility. DeBrusk has earned his ice time for sure, but he’s going to have to produce if he wants to keep it. DeBrusk will need to do what he’s best at – winning puck battles and crashing the net. If he continues to move his feet and fight for his ice like he did against Kadri, the goals will come.

David Pastrnak

In the first six games of this series, David Pastrnak has scored two goals, and has notched four assists. He hasn’t looked like his usual self through much of it, though — he’s tried to get cute and make the extra pass instead of shooting a few too many times this series — Pastrnak will need to get away from that and play his usual game. Pasta cannot let Toronto’s defense out-muscle him and force him to the boards. He will need to fight for the middle of the ice and put as much on net as possible. Krejci will undoubtedly be feeding him passes for one-timer opportunities, and DeBrusk will be in the crease to hit any rebounds home. If Pastrnak is able to put up with Toronto’s physical game and get as many pucks on net as possible, it should pay off.

Patrice Bergeron

Bergeron is the heart and soul of this Bruins team. He is far and away Boston’s best player. Bergeron is a gamer and will likely have a big game 7, as he typically does, and the Bruins need it, badly. Bergeron is their go-to when it comes to must-win faceoffs, and his line is typically the one Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy turns to when a big goal is needed. It is rare that Bergeron has consecutive bad or no-show games, but he has looked a little bit off this series.

Bergeron being engaged, healthy, and allowed to take important faceoffs (instead of being kicked out, as NHL linesmen seem to love doing to Bergy) are paramount to this Bruins’ team success. If Bergeron can play his game and not be neutralized by the Leafs, the Bruins will have a much better chance at a successful game 7. He and Brad Marchand, like David Pastrnak, need to put pucks on net rather than making the extra pass. Andersen needs to see as much traffic and as many shots and possible if the Bruins want to win tonight. Pray to the Hockey Gods that Bergeron comes up big tonight.