The Boston Bruins season has ended with a 3-1 loss in Game 5 to the Tampa Bay Lightning. After a strong regular season, the Bruins found themselves struggling in the playoffs and along the way, it was clear that a shot at the Stanley Cup was still just out of reach.
Boston Bruins Eliminated from Playoffs
After sneaking past Toronto in the first round and winning Game 1 of the Tampa series, the Bruins lost the next four games. The consecutive losses resulted in the Bruins being the first team bounced from the second round. A few things from their playoff run need to be addressed moving into the off-season.
In just about every game of the postseason, the Bruins looked flat out lazy in their own zone. The defence was responsible for many goals that were simply gifted to their opponent through the inability to clear the zone. This type of play has proven that your team will get bounced early from the playoffs.
The spotlight was on Brad Marchand for a majority of the series as well as the postseason. He introduced fans of all teams to a new kind of hockey. The league had absolutely no idea what to do about him licking opponents since there was no established rule specifically against it. It was a strange act that left people feeling more uncomfortable than intimidated.
Marchand’s antics took over mainstream media, but if you’ve followed the NHL Playoffs closely, you’ve probably heard about the officiating being seemingly biased against the Bruins. Of course, it’s easy to blame the refs for a team’s inability to win, but there is a lot of evidence that leaves even some of the more professional individuals questioning why officials refuse to call on both sides.
#TVA Sportscaster and former #NHL coach Michel Bergeron very upset and not holding back, insisting at least 2 officials in this series need to be severely reprimanded to preserve the integrity of NHL Hockey. States that officials determined the entire series. #Bruins
— BRUINS∩иi†e (@BruinsUnite) May 6, 2018
Pretty sure this is illegal. pic.twitter.com/AjKdAJCJTW
— Mike Cole (@MikeColeNESN) May 6, 2018
The play occurred in the third period and, if called, would have given the Bruins a big chance to tie the game at 2-2. J.T. Miller clearly closes his hand on the puck then throws it toward the Boston zone. The play did not result in a penalty.
While the officiating was awful, referees cannot be held accountable for four straight losses.
Depth in Roster
Containing Boston’s top line of Marchand, David Pastrnak, and Patrice Bergeron was tough for Tampa. In each of Tampa Bay’s four wins, at least one member of the first line was directly responsible for all seven of Boston’s goals.
Where Tampa Bay found success was containing the rest of Boston’s team. By shutting down the next three lines, Tampa Bay limited the chance of the Bruins climbing back on the scoreboard. In the series against Toronto, the Bruins lines played well, but the depth of the Lightning roster was just too much for Boston to handle in the second round.
As the series progressed, Tuukka Rask played better. He played a solid Game 1, struggled in Games 2 and 3, then gave Boston a chance to lengthen the series in the final two games. But it was the players in front of him were unable to hold their weight in the end.
With more than just a few Boston fans expressing how it may be time for the Finnish goaltender to find a new home, we will wait to see what the Bruins front office does with him.
David Krejci: For years now, Krejci has played a lot of time looking like he’s bored of playing in the post-season. Occasionally he pots an empty-netter, or scores the team’s lone goal in a game, but Krejci has lost the fire and been invisible for a lot of the games he’s played in.
Rick Nash: Nash came over at the trade deadline and fans were excited. He’s a known goal scorer, but in the playoffs, he made some errors and was also relatively silent.
Ryan Donato: The 22-year-old played only three games this post-season, and while he did not score, he made some noise in the opportunities he was given. Surely, Donato will be a part of the big picture for the Bruins next year.
Charlie McAvoy: In his second post-season, McAvoy played in all 12 games. With one goal and four assists, he helped the team greatly. An overlooked piece of McAvoy’s game was that he was a solid partner for captain Zdeno Chara. As Chara used his body to push opponents around, McAvoy used his stick to get in the shooting lane of skaters he was defending, saving Rask from having to make a stop.
David Pastrnak: The Bruins have found a young and talented star on their roster. They have lacked a flashy personality that fans can look up to and love. From his wardrobe to his play, there is something to admire about Pastrnak. Pastrnak finished the playoffs with 20 points in 12 games.
The last time Boston saw this was in Tyler Seguin, who was traded shortly after his success started to show. But it seems the new Bruins team is more welcoming of this role than they were in the past.
What’s Next for Boston
The Bruins will have a shorter off-season than most but still came up short of the ultimate goal. The management will have to make some changes before the year, but for now, Bruins fans can take a break from the agony of watching their team get outplayed by a Cup-contending Bolts team.
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