Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Most Awful-Wonderful Game Ever

These Bruins are killing me. Seriously. We watched anxiously when they got behind by two goals in the third period of game 5. They played hard at the end but it was too little too late. In game six it was the same story. The Leafs got up by two goals and the Bruins struggled to catch up. They did manage to score a goal to bring them within one at the end of the game, but once again it was too little too late.

So when the Leafs were up by two goals in the third period of game 7, it felt like, "here we go again." When the Leafs scored to lead by three, it looked very dire. But what really got me was how the Bruins were playing at that point, fumbling with the puck, turning it over, and generally skating around like they didn't know what they were doing. As with much of their play this season it was physically painful to watch. In fact, it was so painful to watch that I did something I have not done since the end of the 2006-2007 season after the Bruins had failed to make the playoffs. I am loathe to admit this, but I was so upset at the way they were playing that I paused the DVR and found something else to do for a while. When I came back I fast forwarded through the game, just wanting it to be over quickly. But then I saw the score change. The fumbling bumbling Bruins had somehow scored! I ran it back a bit and watched Horty pull the Bs within two. Still probably too little to late, but at least they had got their act together. We all know what happened next. Lucic scored, then Bergeron tied it up, and Bergeron won it in overtime. How likely is it to come back from being down three goals in a game 7? Nobody had done it before in NHL history.

For me, the pivotal point in the game came when I saw Jagr limp off the ice. It was only then the Bruins truly got going. Throughout the series Jagr looked to me like an anchor, dragging the whole line he's on down with him. He's slow on the back check, unable or unwilling to make a good pass to set up a goal, and he's not capable of the physical play in front of the net that is required at this time of year. The only thing he brings to the team is his ability to protect the puck along the boards. I'd be happy to see him sit. Let Daugavins take his place on the ice.

So the Bruins did get their act together enough to beat Toronto. At times that series looked like a contest to see who could turn the puck over the most. In the end the Bruins found the offense necessary to come from behind and win big. Fine, but the next series will be against a real opponent. Despite outstanding goaltending from Rask, the Bruins defensive play gave up 2.5 goals per game. The forwards are still not consistently back checking and the defense gives the other team too much room when they cross the blue line. The Rangers have only given up 1.7 goals per game. Offense isn't going to win a series against the Rangers and it can't win a cup. The Bruins are going to need to figure out how to play defense again, and quickly.

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