A game-winning squeaker through the forever-polarizing Tuukka Rask will get the masses in their usual uproar.
But for Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy, the frustration that comes with his team’s Game 1 overtime loss to the Capitals will instead be directed at a Boston offense that simply didn’t pull their weight against backup goalie Craig Anderson.
“I don’t think we attacked them well enough,” Cassidy said after the defeat. “I just thought our offensive game was just not where it needed to be tonight. That’s how I felt. I thought our power play wasn’t crisp. It bled into our five-on-five. At the end of the day, just not enough on the offensive side of things, I think we weren’t hard enough to play against in that regard.”
It was especially frustrating to see how the Bruins handled the switch from the injured Vitek Vanecek to Anderson, too, as the Bruins landed just 22 shots on Anderson in over 55 minutes of relief, and scored on just one shot (Nick Ritchie’s deflection). On Washington’s taxi squad for almost the entire season, this was just Anderson’s fifth appearance of the 2021 season, and his first postseason action since Game 7 of the 2017 Eastern Conference Finals. And the B’s simply didn’t test him enough.
Nor did they test Vanecek enough, for that matter, as he faced just four shots on goal before an injury took him out of action.
“We didn’t generate nearly enough, no matter who was in net ” Cassidy offered. “We had two odd-man rushes right out of the gate. I think [Brad] Marchand and [David] Pastrnak both passed ’em when we had good good looks, good chances to score goal. Usually when that happens, it tells me we’re overpassing and we’re not maybe as dialed in as we need to be.
“I thought all night was was a little bit like that. Even with the low to highs, our D were kind of writing shots through when they had a chance to pound pucks and then a couple of them got through for tips. But in general, just the mentality of shooting and shooting hard and going to the net, I thought we lacked some of that tonight in terms of overpassing and it’s been an issue for us this year at times. So this isn’t new. We’ll work to correct it and talk about playing off the original shot and our O-zone spacing as well, and hopefully that opens up some some offense for us.”
The Bruins also finished this contest with a season-high 21 missed shots. It was actually their most missed shots in any single game since missing 21 shots in a Dec. 29, 2018 meeting with the Sabres, and it was captain Patrice Bergeron who led the way in misses, with a game-high five, while Marchand finished with just one shot on goal.
And with Boston’s goals coming from Jake DeBrusk and Nick Ritchie, this was actually just the second time that the B’s top six — with Bergeron between Marchand and Pastrnak, and David Krejci centering Taylor Hall and Craig Smith — has been held without a goal in a game since being assembled on Apr. 13. (A 1-0 loss in Pittsburgh on Apr. 25 was the only other time a game has started and ended without a goal from a member of this top six.)
“I honestly thought our our top guys didn’t seem to have it [and] couldn’t find ice, couldn’t escape pressure in the power play and and find the open guy,” said Cassidy. “I just think a lot of those guys that have been doing a lot of scoring for us just weren’t able to get to their game or get the puck to cooperate or support each other well enough to generate enough offense.
“It was not really typical of what we’ve seen lately from that group. So hopefully Game 2, they’re a a little sharper.”
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.