By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Bruins were lucky they even made it to the 83rd minute of a double-overtime Game 2 loss to the Blue Jackets.
Think about it: Both of the Jackets’ regulation goals came off just straight-up terrible turnovers. The first was on an attempted d-zone clear by Zdeno Chara that didn’t get more than 10 inches off the ground, and the second was a result of Charlie Coyle’s second d-zone giveaway in as many games, but with this somehow being more egregious than his Game 1 gaffe.
The Bruins also peed the bed when given a chance to answer for Coyle’s turnover with 2:46 of power-play time in the second period, and did nothing with a soft penalty drawn on Cam Atkinson midway through the third period.
“I think where they could’ve done better tonight as a group, but they’re part of that group, is the power play,” Bruce Cassidy said of his top talents. “Clearly, that’s the place to get going offensively, and we didn’t execute well enough. We got a goal off of it, but really, not nearly to the level those guys have executed all year. Columbus has good sticks. You have to respect that.
“We’re forcing plays and not executing the plays we should.”
Boston also tried about a dozen drop passes that went anywhere but where they wanted them to go.
But wait, there’s more: Had it not been for a crucial glove-side stop from Tuukka Rask on Nick Foligno with 16.8 seconds left in regulation, Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy would have made it three breakdowns, three goals for the Blue Jackets.
And when Matt Duchene and the Jackets finally did win it in double-overtime, it was with Patrice Bergeron in the box after a trip on Seth Jones. A trip Bergeron lamented as something that “can’t happen” in his postgame meeting with the media.
“The goals that we gave up, I think it’s a fair assessment,” Bergeron said when asked about this being a ‘self-inflicted’ loss. “Two penalties, the other one is again something that we can take care of the puck a little better maybe.
“In a way it is, in a playoff series it’s always about looking forward to making sure that we rectify those things but a lot of it is about playing smarter.”
Here are some other thoughts and notes from a 3-2 double-overtime loss at TD Garden…
Cassidy: “Pastrnak is too indecisive right now”
Futile attempts to diagnose what’s wrong with David Pastrnak have become all the rage this postseason.
Through nine playoff games, Pastrnak’s stat line now reads three goals and four assists. The raw numbers seem passable, all things considered. But it’s clear that Pastrnak is not even close to playing at the level he set for himself last postseason and through a regular season run that likely would have seen him crack the 50-goal plateau had it not been for a thumb injury.
“I still think he’s indecisive, whether to shoot or pass,” Cassidy said after the loss when asked about Pastrnak’s struggles. “You see it on the power play, when it looks like he should shoot he makes a play, and when the opportunity to make a play is there it’s forced. So he just has to kind of fight his way through it. We’ve tried to play him with both [Patrice Bergeron] and [David Krejci] — give him centers he’s comfortable with — and move him away for a little bit with [Charlie] Coyle, but there’s only so much you can do with the personnel in terms of shifting him around.”
It’s worth mentioning that Pastrnak — well, his skate, anyway — did get on the board for the Bruins in this one. It’s an example of what can happen if and when Pastrnak drives to the net (it increases the snakebitten’s luck at the very least), and something Cassidy hopes his team’s top right-side threat can build on as the series shifts to Columbus for Games 3 and 4.
“I think at some point it’s just a matter of keep playing your way out of it, and hopefully tonight is a start,” offered Cassidy. “He did get on the scoresheet, and from there hopefully it gets going.”
You can’t win if you don’t shoot the puck
Speaking of indecisiveness, it’s hard to imagine the Bruins surviving this round if they don’t stop looking for the perfect extra pass. Listen, when it happens, it’s wonderful and may even crack the SportsCenter Top 10 plays depending on whether or not Steph Curry hit a shot from the Golden Gate Bridge that night. But when it doesn’t work — and when your extra passes end up going anywhere besides the stick you hoped it would hit — it often leads to what you saw from the Bruins for the majority of Saturday’s contest, which saw them held to just 13 shots after two periods of action.
Now, you understand what the Bruins want to do here. They’re going up against a tremendous Columbus defense corps (light years better than Toronto’s, even with their injuries), and Sergei Bobrovsky is infinitely better than Frederik Andersen. Simply flinging it on net probably isn’t going to fool a defense this talented and a goaltender this skilled.
But at least there’s something tangible to such a philosophy versus a routinely fruitless one-and-done approach that’s come with these extra passes.
Jake DeBrusk was Boston’s greatest offender on this front in Game 2, as he forced a turnover and found himself all alone between the circles against Bobrovsky. In the third period of a tied game, no less.
But rather than fire it on goal and trust the shot that earned him 27 goals in the regular season, DeBrusk opted to drop a pass back to Pastrnak (covered by three Blue Jacket skaters). The pass went nowhere, and the Bruins lost possession.
The Bruins did not get a better look than that one for the remainder of regulation, and we all know what happened in the end.
Zdeno Chara returns favor for David Krejci, crushes Riley Nash
Bruins captain Zdeno Chara didn’t waste any time trying to get retribution for the hammer Riley Nash dropped on Bruins center David Krejci in Game 1 of this series. Hell, the period had hardly started when the 6-foot-9 Chara tagged his former teammate with a hit that knocked Nash on his behind, and even sent him back to the dressing room for a little bit.
Riley Nash gets crushed by Zdeno Chara pic.twitter.com/88O6wiRxGv— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) April 28, 2019
It was not the first time the Bruins targeted the Blue Jackets in a game that saw each time put up some heavy hit totals, with 91 hits between the teams, and with stretches of each team looking to level the opponent rather than gain control of the puck.
“I do think we’re almost overextending ourselves in trying to get the big hit instead of just playing,” Jackets head coach John Tortorella admitted after the win. “We certainly discussed that as far as, we’re going to play the way we need to play but to overextend, guys were falling down, I mean they’re excited to play, I’m not taking their enthusiasm away, we just need to curb it a little bit at certain times but they figured it out as the game went on.”
Krejci, meanwhile, suited up and skated through whatever’s bothering him as a result of the Nash hit, and finished with one assist in over 21 minutes of time on ice. It was clear that the Bruins did what they could to limit Krejci’s efforts at the faceoff dot, though, as No. 46 finished with just 12 faceoffs in total by the night’s end.