On Wednesday, the Bruins will have the chance to close out the series against Toronto and move on to the second round of the playoffs.
Just like they did last night.
And two nights before that.
But here we are, careening towards what was probably an inevitable Game 7 between these foes, and I can’t help but be a little worried. The Bruins were simply outmatched in Game 6, and seemed tight and out of sorts as the speedier Toronto forwards pushed the rush and blocked shot after shot from Boston. And as well as Tuukka played, he was outdueled by Frederik Anderson. No bounces went Boston’s way, the Toronto crowd was electric, and Bruce Cassidy futilely attempted to jumble lines that couldn’t get anything going.
Game 5 was a similar story, minus the strong performance from Rask. Two games, and two eggs laid.
But as bad as things have gotten for Boston, it’s nothing that winning can’t heal. A victory tomorrow and this whole mess is behind them.
A loss? Well, that might sting for a while. I’m trying my best not to go down that hypothetical road just yet.
Fortunately for Boston, Game 7 will be in the friendly confines of the TD Garden. The crowd will be a weapon for Boston as it was last night for Toronto. So right off the bat, I give the Bruins a slight edge in what is an otherwise very even matchup.
So what do the Bruins need to do to win Game 7 and schedule a date with Tampa Bay? You’ll hear a lot of people say guys like Rick Nash need to step up, that Tuukka needs to stand on his head, that Ryan Donato needs to play. And all of that is probably true, but to me, at this point, it comes down to two major things.
If you take the lead, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD KEEP IT
I CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH.
During the regular season against Toronto, every time Boston scored the first goal of the game, Toronto took an average of less than four minutes to tie it up. And Game 6 was no exception, as the Bruins choked in their own end and let the Maple Leafs tie the game 35 seconds after Jake DeBrusk gave the Bruins the lead. Toronto plays for the home-run pass by default, and they seem to double-down on that approach when they fall behind. If the Bruins can take the lead and stifle the coming onslaught from Toronto, they can slow the pace of the game and frustrate a team that doesn’t have another consistent way to score goals besides the run-and-gun style.
Bury your power play chances
Going 1 for your last 8 on the power play is just not going to cut it, especially against a team that you know is going to score goals. The Bruins will be at home, and I always have the sneaking suspicion that the home crowd coaxes at least one or two penalty calls in the home team’s favor. And the Bruins will need to take advantage. Whether it’s Bergeron, Nash, Marchand, I don’t care. Keep moving, quick passes, and shoot often. No more of this delayed shot slap-pass nonsense from the point. It’s gotten blocked all series and will continue to get blocked. If you have a shooting lane, rip it on net. Take the video below- the Bruins had good possession, kept their shape, fired shots when the lane was open, and Backes was in the perfect position to bury a lucky bounce. That’s how you do it.
This last piece is kind of a side note, and it’s about Cassidy and the lineup. I’m not sure about any of you other Bruins fans out there, but I would like to see Cassidy stick with the standard lineup for the B’s this season. No more Wingels. Put Heinen back on the third line with Riley Nash and David Backes. Put Rash next to Krecji, and roll the first line for more minutes than they ever have been out there before. Try to put Toronto on their heels, and pressure their defensemen (who are mediocre at best in handling the puck). I worry that if they worry about trying to contain Matthews and Marner, they will turtle offensively and get turned on their heels themselves.
Agree? Disagree? Game 7 predictions? Let’s hear it.
As for me? I think the Bruins grind out a 4-2 win.
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