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What can the Bruins do when they're winning everywhere but the scoreboard?

The Bruins continue to dominate the Leafs territorially but have dropped two straight games regardless. Will luck even out for Boston in Game 7?

“There is no panic in this room,” David Krejci said after Boston won Game 4 to take a 3-1 series lead.

After dropping two straight games to the Toronto Maple Leafs, including Game 6 Monday night at the Air Canada Centre: still no panic from the Bruins, sure. But no swagger, either. If one word summarized the post-game mood in their room, it was drowsy bewilderment. Over their past two games, they’d outshot the Leafs 78-51. In 5-on-5 play, they’d generated 126 shot attempts to Toronto’s 70. Boston held a 62-33 edge in scoring chances. All that amounted to consecutive losses, forcing a Game 7 at the TD Garden Wednesday.

So what do you do when you when you seem to have such an extreme territorial edge but aren’t getting the results to match it?

“You can’t think about it,” said center Patrice Bergeron after Game 6’s 3-1 defeat. “Right now, that’s the position we’re in. We’ve got to be better. We’ve got to find a way. We’ve got to put some more traffic, find a way to get those goals."

Bergeron may have a point. The Bruins continued leaning on the Leafs in Game 6, hemming them in their own zone, and Bergeron’s powerhouse line with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak dominated again as coach Bruce Cassidy double shifted them. Marchand and Bergeron eclipsed 22 minutes. But the Bruins could only solve Leafs starter Frederik Andersen once, possibly because, for all that buzzing the net, they didn’t generate enough high-quality looks. Boston had six high-danger chances 5-on-5 versus nine for the Leafs. Over the past two games, the ratio of high-danger chances is 17-16 for Boston. That’s not a margin the Bruins want considering the Leafs, for all their faults, are finishers. Because of their high skill level, they do a lot with a little. They boasted the league’s third-best shooting percentage 5-on-5 in the regular season.

No team in the league can match Boston’s big line, but Toronto has better scoring depth and touch across all four lines. Coach Mike Babcock’s juggling spread Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, Nazem Kadri and William Nylander across a minimum of three different lines at various points in Game 6, with Nylander bouncing from trio to trio as he heated up. “All of a sudden, Toronto has four balanced lines,” Cassidy told reporters after Game 6. And “all of a sudden” doesn’t reek of confidence. It suggests a bit of head scratching at an opponent that didn’t remain static in its personnel deployment after falling behind 3-1 in this series.

Goaltending has also become a bigger story as the series progresses. Tuukka Rask was particularly outstanding in the Game 6’s third period as Boston tried to mount a comeback, but Frederik Andersen outduelled him for a second straight game. He posted an .880 save percentage in Games 1 to 4 but has stopped 74 of 78 shots for a .949 SP in Toronto’s Game 5 and 6 victories. Rask got pulled in Game 5 after four goals on 13 shots. He was absolutely not the reason for the Bruins’ Game 6 defeat – he made some legit 10-bell stops – but Cassidy couldn’t help but leak some disappointment into his post-game presser.

“You see the other guy making save after save, and they come down and don’t spend a lot of time in your end, and they score – it’s always discouraging," Cassidy said, though he added he felt Rask played well and kept Boston alive in the third period.

If Andersen continues to stand on his head, the Bruins will need Rask to come up with those big saves indeed, even if he’s cold after sustained stretches of Boston’s forwards pressuring the Leafs in the offensive zone. On the other hand, if Andersen falters even just a little bit, Game 7 could get ugly for the Leafs in a hurry. They’re still getting badly outchanced, and even if they’ve done a better job limiting shot quality over the past couple games, you can only allow so many before goals start flying in. The Bruins’ best chance, then, is to keep doing what they’re doing – except find a way to finish all those attacks with actual goals. Theoretically, the odds still favor the superior possession team playing at home, especially given the Bruins still boast multiple veterans from the 2011 Stanley Cup team and 2013 team that lost in the final. The big-game experience can't hurt.

If Boston loses Game 7, it will likely be because Andersen pulls off another miracle and the Leafs execute some well-timed counterstrikes in limited opportunities with their skill. There won’t be much the Bruins can do if the puck luck continues working against them.

"That's the way it is,” said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. “It's all about one game. One game and you have to be ready."



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