By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
After a third-period collapse cost them Game 1 by a 5-2 final, the Hurricanes tried to bring the jam to the Bruins off the jump in Game 2. No player put the hurt on the Black and Gold worse than Micheal Ferland, who made all of TD Garden grimace when he absolutely plastered Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk right into the Geico sign in front of the Boston bench.
It was the kind of start you think would have a bruising impact on the Bruins.
Instead, it was Grzelcyk that opened the scoring just 13 minutes after the Ferland hit, and opened the floodgates on Petr Mrazek and the Hurricanes in a 6-2 Game 2 final at TD Garden.
“I think it lifts our bench when you get drilled pretty good,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy admitted after the victory, led by two strikes from Grzelcyk. “I’m not surprised. He’s a tough kid, and in this playoff season – any playoff season – you’re going to take some hits, take a number, get back out there and play the game. Keep discipline and at some point, if you get a chance to be physical against them, you take advantage of it, and that’s the way it works.”
The Grzelcyk goal was a ridiculously leaky goal from Mrazek, one that seemingly deflated Carolina’s physical start, and Jake DeBrusk made it 2-0 with a power-play goal just 3:10 later to give the Bruins a 2-0 edge through 20 minutes of play.
“We got a little frustrated,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour admitted after the loss. “After the second one went in, I think, but yeah we weren’t very good after the first period. The last five minutes of the first and through the rest of the game, we got off our game. Give them credit, they, there is a reason we got off our game, they’re learning us.”
And now we’re left to ask a series-deciding question of sorts: What can the ‘Canes pull out of their back of tricks next to try and derail the Bruins and get themselves back in this series?
When we look at Carolina’s roster, it’s difficult to find legitimate offensive threats behind Sebastian Aho. The Bruins by all means made his line disappear with a heavy dose of The Bergeron Line and Torey Krug-Brandon Carlo defensive pairing, as the Teravainen-Aho-Svechnikov line was outshot 6-0 in just 4:42 of five-on-five hockey on Sunday afternoon.
And now we’ve learned that not even Micheal Ferland practically beheading Grzelcyk makes a difference.
“They’re going to play physical and we are too,” said Charlie McAvoy. “I think it’s really about just weathering [their physicality], and trying to make simple plays, just advancing pucks and keeping them out of danger areas.”
Here are some other thoughts and notes from a 6-2 final at TDG…
It’s hard to find many Bruins who aren’t pulling their weight right now
Consider this: With Connor Clifton on the board, the Bruins now have 19 different goal scorers this spring. 19! It’s a record number for the Bruins, and truly speaks to the depth of this team, along with the Midas touch Cassidy has right now.
There’s also the fact that it hasn’t forced Cassidy to double-shift Bergeron’s line to the degree he did during last year’s second-round bowout to the Lightning due to the rest of the roster’s sudden allergic reaction to goal-scoring.
“I think this year because we’ve scored a lot more up and down the line it’s just a little easier to roll lines and look for your matchup but roll lines and not have to over-extend skill guys,” Cassidy offered. “I think any team that advances generally gets some level of that where everybody’s contributing, where someone steps up in a different night.
“You’re not relying on one area, and we’ve definitely got that. I mean, the Charlie Coyle line right now creates a big problem I think for the other team. You’ve got Bergy’s line right out of the gate. You’ve got [David] Krejci, who’s a known playoff scorer now with DeBrusk. Now you’ve got a third line to deal with, so usually getting your d-pairs out there it’s a lot of work to play against, you know, if you want to play your top pair against two of those three lines.
“So, it’s a big ask, and I think that’s a difficult ask as well, so it’s benefited us a lot.”
Connor Clifton is one hell of a weapon
I loved the way Bruins defenseman Torey Krug described playing with Connor Clifton.
“We call it Cliffy Hockey because he just goes out there and plays like no one else and he just thrives off instincts,” said Krug.
It’s those instincts that have made Clifton a viable weapon on the Black and Gold’s third pairing this spring, and one that allowed the Bruins to grab a 3-0 lead early in the second period of Sunday’s victory.
“The offensive part of it, he sees a chance, he grabs the puck and he goes and he’s not scared to hold onto it,” Krug continued. “He’s been a great addition to this defensive group and obviously something we can hopefully capture and move forward and continue to provide offense from that guy.”
“Did we see [the offensive instincts] in him originally? That’s all we saw in him when we first saw him at Development Camp,” Cassidy said. “I thought he was a winger more than a defenseman.”
TD Garden was totally in Dougie Hamilton’s head
I’m honestly not sure Dougie Hamilton wants to come back to TD Garden for a Game 5. It’s been that bad for him off the jump this series. The ex-Bruin took a pair of penalties that accelerated Carolina’s third-frame collapse in Game 1, and was just plain atrocious in Game 2, with more than a few unforced errors and a post-goal cross-check to Danton Heinen that truly highlighted the first-year Hurricane defender’s frustrations with his own game and his team’s struggles through 120 minutes.
It all led to more “Doug-ie” jeers from a bloodthirsty Garden crowd that loves nothing more than reminder the 25-year-old what he decided he didn’t want to be part of when he forced a trade out of Boston back in 2015.
Justin Williams needs to be smarter
Brad Marchand may have hooked Justin Williams up high. He definitely appears to come close, whether or not Williams’ grasp on Marchand’s stick keeps it there or not. That part is up for debate, and your answer largely comes back to your favorite team and/or your feelings on Marchand as a general nuisance of sorts. But there’s one part of this that is just straight-up non-debatable: Williams needs to be smarter for his team.
Everybody — even Hamilton The Pig — knows that Marchand is going to do Marchand things to get under the skin of his opponents. He did this yesterday when he opted for a more difficult route to get back in the play by clubbing the Hurricanes’ Andrei Svechnikov in the back of the head as the two were tangled up. Svechnikov did nothing, because he knew that that would be exactly what No. 63 wanted. So Williams’ reaction, which saw the Carolina captain grab Marchand by the chinstrap and pull (all while Marchand simply smiled back at him), is the last thing the ‘Canes need right now.
Williams is the emotional driving force of the ‘Canes. Everybody on that team follows his lead. If he’s going to spontaneously combust because Marchand is annoying, this series is going to become a power-play demolition derby by the B’s.