Sometimes it seems like the Boston Bruins are just playing a very cruel game with the emotions of their devoted fans. Games like this 2-1 loss to the Washington Capitals, forcing this series to at least six games--with a potentially decisive game six to be played in Washington--are just a litany of missed opportunities, mistakes and invisible players, things to make their fans feel all sorts of bad emotions. Allow me to elaborate.
The Bruins tested Braden Holtby with 45 shots on goal, but went about it all wrong. I'm reminded of the 2-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild when I see how the Bruins took their shots in this game: one lone shooter, coming in from the point, shooting right at Holtby's chest. If he doesn't gather the shot up and freeze it right there, if he does give up a rebound, literally no other Bruins are ever there--or they're in the wrong place--to control the rebounds and take advantage of the situation presented to them. There was little net-front presence to block Holtby's view, so he was easily able to see all the shots. This guy is not as great as the media hype is making him out to be, though he is good and helping carry his team's water. They help him in return by sacrificing the body to block lots of shots: 26 in this game. But when the Bruins don't test him effectively, he certainly can look like a Vezina winner.
Top players who should be absolutely dominating this series are mere shadows of themselves. Remember back when David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin had more than 20 goals to their name? In this series so far, they each have no points. At all. I am willing to give Krejci a wider berth considering the glass incident after game one and a near-miss with a skate blade tonight that just barely kept him from being the 2012 version of Clint Malarchuk, but there is literally no excuse for the invisibility of those other three. I don't know what needs to be done to motivate them to do something because line changes certainly haven't worked. It's great that the third and fourth lines can score. It's not great that the first and second lines cannot. (On that note, though, at least Rich Peverley kept the Bruins from being shut out.)
It seems like the fire was gone from this team. After the physicality and conflict of game three, there was no roar in these bears, no passion or urgency even with the potential this game had. The Capitals even out-hit them 44 to 34. I feel like the referees probably told them to keep it down or suffer extreme consequences--but a team that can sometimes earn positive momentum from a good fight muzzled itself too far.
Do I even need to cover how bad the power play was on the one chance it was given in this game? Well, suffice it to say it was bad.
The Bruins now face another challenge: back-to-back games, with both of them possibly being matinees (the time for game six has not been announced as of this writing). Matinees and back-to-backs have been difficult for this team this season. Unless they shape up fast, these games could prove very difficult too--and one could be potentially season-ending. Let us see if they can start to do better on April 21 at 3 p.m. on NBC.
- Sports & Recreation
- Ice Hockey
- Boston Bruins
- Washington Capitals
- Braden Holtby