It didn’t take long for Monday’s strong start to turn into a sinking feeling for the Bruins.
Dodging certified 2021-22 Bruins killer Frederik Andersen in their Game 1 showdown with the Hurricanes, the Bruins hammered nine of the game’s first 10 shots on Carolina’s Antti Raanta in the veteran’s first career playoff start. It was as good a road start as the Bruins could have hoped for. But as the strong start came and went without a goal on the board for the Bruins, you couldn’t help but wonder if it was going to go down as a wasted opportunity for the B’s.
A 2:10 stretch late in the second period confirmed that it was exactly that, as the Hurricanes turned a 0-0 duel between Raanta and the Bruins’ Linus Ullmark into a 2-0 lead in the blink of an eye, and rode it all the way to a 5-1 victory in Raleigh.
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Matched up against a team that simply doesn’t give up a ton, the Bruins landed 36 shots on Raanta. The Canes allowed at least 36 shots in a game just 10 times during the regular season (or just 12 percent of the time). The Hurricanes also allowed the Bruins to land 30 five-on-five shots on goal. They let a team hit the 30-shot at five-on-five just 11 times in 2021-22.
By nearly every measure, the Bruins did exactly what they were supposed to against the Hurricanes.
Well, everything except find the back of the net.
“Their goalie made saves and there’s some pucks around the front of the net that we just couldn’t locate or take the right path to, but they were there,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said after the loss. “He’s paid to play, too, and he did a good job. He held them in the game early on, and it is a team that if you have a lead on, it’s an easier game for us.
“They play better when they have [the lead]. They’re made for that. They check well. Opens them up a little bit if they’re behind, so could it have made an impact in the game if we finish? Sure.”
We’ve hit the point of the year where I’m officially ready to say Tomas Nosek’s sticks are cursed and he needs to burn them immediately. It’s hard to imagine Nosek getting a better look than he did Monday night, and still Nosek remains on the hunt for his first goal since New Year’s Day. The Bruins had two separate instances of goal-line interventions from the Hurricanes, and Taylor Hall practically dented the post on a shot that would’ve tied things up at 2-2 early in the third period.
“I thought we controlled play the first period [and] the first real 35 minutes of the game and we weren’t able to jump out to a lead,” Hall said after the loss. “You see the crowd gets into it, they get playing and they get feeling good about it.
“That’s the way it goes.”
And while the Bruins couldn’t buy a break at one end, the Hurricanes made net-front traffic look downright easy at the other. That’s going to be the formulate in this series, too, as the those third-period snipes from Carolina’s Teuvo Teravainen and Vinny Trocheck will probably stand out as outliers by the end of this series based on how these teams play defensively.
For the Bruins, that means stealing Carolina’s hard hats and the finish that’s on the end of their blades.
“If you look at the first goal, we had the puck in the o-zone. We separated and tried to make a play into the slot, which… they’re like us that way. There’s not very many plays that are going into the slot uncontested,” Cassidy noted. “We got Hall’s goal late because we won the original battle below the goal line and we got them out from the slot. I think you gotta choose when to put pucks in there and when to funnel and get those second chances.
“We need some more action like that.”
And don’t they know it.
“They probably feel pretty good about their game going into Game 2, but it’s a long series,” Hall said. “I think it’s pretty easy to pinpoint what we need to do better in Game 2. We’re a pretty good team at making adjustments.”
Here are some other thoughts and notes from a Game 1 loss to the Hurricanes…