This first breakdown to hurt Boston comes near the end of first period; this is the third out of three Bruins penalties in the period. Chara got caught trying to literally pick Neal's brain, and clipped him in the face.
|The guiltiest of looks
The resulting 4 on 3 penalty kill didn't go so well. Nashville starts the play low on the right circle with one man down low, two on the wings, and one up high. The bruins don't adjust accordingly, and stay in the traditional triangle with two men down low. The problem with that is it leaves a 3 on 2 down low, and Eriksson isn't low enough to cover the cross-ice pass.
Eriksson should be down three feet lower here, covering the lane to Josi while also being the first man to step out to Weber had the puck gone there. McQuaid would have then bodied up on Neal in front, and Miller then would be responsible for Ribeiro.
Let's play hypothetical here for a second; if the Bruins were in the position described above, Ribeiro's best passing option would be to go short to Weber. Weber has a cannon, we all know this; but it's a straight-on shot from a long distance, something every goalie should save ten times out of ten. So say Weber doesn't shoot; Eriksson, positioned in the passing lane to Josi, would step out to Weber, leaving Josi as the open man. The same time Eriksson steps out to Weber, McQuaid would take a step off of Neal towards Josi, and Miller would come in from Ribeiro, staying in the passing lane. This type of rotation cuts off the cross-ice pass and keeps the play to the outer limits; again, all shots from there are much easier to save.
It's nice to dream, isn't it? Yea, I dream about being a millionaire playboy too. Well you better stop now, because dreams are meant to be crushed.
Now back to brutal reality; the cross-ice pass is exactly what Ribeiro sees, and that's where he puts it, hitting Josi at the top of the left circle; this shifts the defensive attention to the opposite side of the ice, which takes time. Now Josi,being the smarty pants that he is, immediately gives it back to Ribeiro before the Bruins defense can adjust yet again.
See McQuaid trying to both cover Josi and Neal? I smell something bad coming up, and it's not last night's chili.
Since Eriksson at the top didn't come down to cover Josi, the passing lane remained wide open, and it's now a 3 on 2. Ribeiro again quickly passesback to Josi, with Eriksson still in la-la land covering nobody.
|The mysterious red line disappeared immediately after this play
McQuaid wisely tries to cover the closest man to the net, but Eriksson doesn't do the same, and gets caught flat on his feet.
Since Ribeiro is so low in the zone, it forces Jonas Gustavsson
to hug his left post and play deep in the net.
Gustavsson does his best to get a good push to the far post, but since he starts out so deep, he isn't able to challenge the shot enough and gets beat over the shoulder with a terrific shot.
This play could have been stymied had the Bruins been setup in the correct original positioning; instead, it results in an easy goal for Roman Josi
. It wouldn't be the last time I yelled his name in vain.
At least we didn't have to go through a minute and a half-plus of awful man-down defense for Nashville to score; it only took ten seconds. Let's illustrate the number of things wrong with this next photo.
1) Krejci gets beat by Josi over the blue line. Not great, but, fixable.
2) Chara, Krejci's cover man, is such a poor skater at this point he has to make a long, sweeping turn in order to catch up to Josi. Hmm. Well, there's still more defenders back there, right?
3) Eriksson gets caught puck watching, and his man sneaks by him creating a passing option for Josi. Uh oh.
4) This results in McQuaid, hands on knees, getting caught in no-man's land. Does he clean up Krejci & Chara's mistakes and meet Josi at the net? Or does he cover Eriksson's ass and shut down the passing lane?
McQuad stays home to cover up the passing lane. OK, fair enough choice; I'd expect all 6'9", 256 lbs. of Zdeno Chara to be able to move his feet JUST A LITTLE BIT and cut off Josi's rush to the net. Like I said earlier; dreams are meant to be crushed, and this year, you can take all typically reasonable expectations and throw them down the shitter.
Chara doesn't feed enough coal into the 1700's steam-engine that now powers his legs, and gets beat badly, instead choosing to use his length to try and stop Josi. It doesn't work.
Josi sends visions of Bobby Orr running through our heads and sneaks the puck past Gustavsson.
About 5 minutes later, the Bruins were at it again. An interference against Marchand leads to another 5 on 4. This time it's not Josi sprinting through the defense; it's Filip Forsberg
, one of the better young power forwards in the game. Yaay! But why, why was he able to go undeterred? Let's see!
What's this? All defenders essentially in one layer? Eriksson is just turning his hips in the above frame while #9, Forsberg is at full speed. If this were correctly set up, Miller would have been at least 5 feet further back to chase down any dump-ins and provide that second layer of defense needed here. Give the Predators credit for smartly attacking this god-awful defensive formation.
Forsberg receives a beautiful pass on his stick with a clear lane; if I were Gustavsson, I'd be requesting a new pair of underwear after this rush. Forsberg had everyone beat easily. Luckily, he couldn't handle the puck and doesn't get a shot off.
There will be more bad days like this to come. The Bruins as we once knew them are no longer; gone are the days of consistent 2-1 wins supported by brilliant, suffocating defensive play. The defensemen we have will be beaten and scored upon, and it's time to accept it.
But the team is still winning, despite the downturn in play. The above sceanrios are correctable, and Claude Julien is still a good coach (no matter what the internet commenters say). If Claude is able to eliminate these mistakes and keep the offense humming along (tied for 5th in goals for while 5 on 5!), then this team could make a little noise come playoff time.