What did we expect going into the Boston Bruins's series against the Toronto Maple Leafs? We expected a tightly checked, hard fought series. Thus far, we sure have received a tightly checked, hard fought series. So what more could you ask for as the series is currently tied at two games apiece headed back to Boston? Obviously as a Bruins fan, you would ask for two more wins, but that is most definitely not a “gimme.” So, what do the Bruins have to do better in order to insure a date with the Columbus Blue Jackets in the second round?
How many times, especially in losses, have we seen the Bruins give up goals on defensive zone turnovers, or goals within seconds of a Toronto power play? This series could easily be 3–1 in favor of Boston if the Bruins could just clean up their defensive issues. In game three, all three of Toronto’s goals came off of defensive turnovers. If the Bruins can clean this up, they will be a lot tougher to beat.
Once again, the spotlight is on Tuukka Rask in the playoffs. It is fair to say that Rask’s stats look fairly good thus far, holding a .921 save percentage which is way up from his .903 save percentage from last year. However, he is still allowing greasy goals that an elite goalie should save. Even though Frederik Andersen has worse stats than Rask as he is holding a .917 save percentage, I honestly believe Andersen has been the better goalie as he has stood on his head for the majority of the series. As Bruins fans, we would love Rask to be a smidge better, but he has been far from Boston’s biggest problem in this series.
Top Players Need to Play Like Top Players
The Bruins had the second best record in the Eastern Conference for a reason; they have good players that performed excellently in the regular season. Now it needs to carry over more into the playoffs. The Bruins have only won games this series when Patrice Bergeron, Pastrnak and Brad Marchand have all put up at least one point. Once again, it seems like the Bruins go as far as these three guys go.
It seems the “perfection line” of Bergeron, Marchand, and Pastrnak may get some time apart in an effort to create some balanced scoring. It looks as if Danton Heinen will get more opportunities to play alongside Bergeron and Marchand, while Pastrnak will likely get an opportunity to play with David Krejci’s or Charlie Coyle’s line. This probably will not be permanent, but if the Bruins can get some consistent scoring up and down their lineup, expect this to be the plan going forward.
This series is far from over and the Bruins have played far from their best hockey, which I suppose is a good thing if they can clean up their mistakes. If Boston can play their game and get a few saves from Rask they will have a chance to win every night. All the Bruins have to do in the rest of the series is win at home and play a full 60 minutes; if they do that then they should be able to advance.