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Bruins’ secondary scoring MUST kick in in order to survive Game 7

One line cannot save your postseason. Everyone else needs to start pitching in, or the B’s are going home.

Toronto Maple Leafs v Boston Bruins - Game One Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images


Here we are. Day of Game 7. A Game 7 the Bruins forced on themselves and the Leafs enforced by playing some of their best hockey right in the here and now. Call it what you want, get mad at whoever you’d like for it. All that stands between Round 2 and Elimination is 60 minutes of hockey starting at 7:30 EST.

Boston’s first line must lead the charge, as expected, but there needs to be more. Rask needs to be better, but there’s few times in a year when a .930 SV%, which is the SV% he ended last night’s game with, can be the result of play and the team with it loses. That is “I am making sure this does not get worse”-tier goaltending. That is keeping you in it goaltending by the numbers. The Bruins could’ve gotten back into that game quite easily with that kind of support.

But they didn’t.

What has made the last few games of this series more than letdowns, they’ve been hair-pulling frustrations because the team that stomped the Leafs out in Game 2 has suddenly dried up as Toronto has ensured to start blocking practically every shot Pastrnak, Marchand, and Bergeron take, and not allowing them even an inch of space on the ice. So in these times where Boston needs someone other than those three to carry the torch, Boston has been getting woefully mixed returns from it’s middle six. Leading to long sequences of neutral zone struggle and meager zone time.

Jake DeBrusk might as well be the lone exception in this regard, as he’s worked himself half to death trying to get on the scoreboard every time he hits the ice during his shifts. He has a respectable statline of 5 points in 6 games that gave fans hope, with two goals and an assist in the last three games, but it appears that his linemates, respected (or at least tolerated) veterans like David Krejci and Rick Nash have gone on spells of disappearing into the faceless mass of players on-ice; existing to push the puck around and maybe into the attacking zone, but not connecting on passes that should be simple, or giving up obnoxious turnovers on plays that shouldn’t work that effectively kill any momentum the Bruins have been cooking up.

Rick Nash was brought in to finally be the winger to David Krejci’s right who he could dish to in order to get scoring chances going the other way. He should not be getting demoted in Game 6. nor should he have the same amount of points as a defense-first fourth liner in Noel Acciari or Stay-At-Home defenders like Kevan Miller.

In fairness, he did up his game with more chances and better work ethic in Game 6, but the reality is that he’s not converting. He needs to be better. Plain and simple.

To say nothing of the third line, which has been an abject disaster for a multitude of reasons; the least of which is Riley Nash seeming to be playing at something like 60% of what he’s capable of thanks to some injury I’m sure we’re going to be horrified hearing about. The biggest reason for it’s failing outside that which I could see over the past few games is that it’s rotating cast of players barely seem to have any chemistry together, and that’s including players like Danton Heinen and David Backes who have been playing on the same line for most of the year and have otherwise found themselves painfully underwhelming.

There’s just no cohesion to what’s going on for that combo that didn’t involve Riley Nash making a responsible play and getting it up ice, and as a result you got a lot of what you saw on Monday; A third line that played together in this easily defendable clump of players who were having trouble connecting on passes and struggling to create chances even within their respective roles, to the point that Danton Heinen got scratched in place of a player that quite simply did not measure up as a suitable replacement and whatever message Bruce was trying to send was punctuated by an aggravating loss. Backes had a goal in Game 1 and Game 5. He is being paid 6 million on average to be a leader and to be gritty and to be a scoring threat in front of the net. He has so far managed to successfully shake off a defender and keep his stick on the ice long enough to bang home a rebound or pot a goal from right out in front twice in 88.76 minutes of hockey. In that same period of time, he has managed the most amount of penalty minutes out of any forward. He. Has. To. Be. Better.

As for the fourth line?...It’s a fourth line. Try as they might, and they do try real dang hard every shift, they’re going to get you zone time, just not quality chances. And that’s what this particular fourth line has been fantastic at all year. Getting the puck in deep, maybe getting a faceoff. They need goals at this juncture, not faceoffs.

So...What should they do?

  • If Danton Heinen got the message, make sure he’s in the lineup.
  • Make a hard decision on whether or not Ryan Donato replaces a fourth liner like Acciari for extra scoring bite, however little.
  • If Rick Nash got the same message Danton Heinen got, ensure that simple, smart hockey gets him sprung for opportunities in front of Andersen.
  • Make sure Jake DeBrusk is well supported by his fellow linemates.
  • Make good and goddamn sure that everyone on the 3rd line knows what they’re doing, what their role is, and if anyone seems unclear or the “clumping” problem crops up again, swap a player.

And finally...make peace with whatever decisions they make. It’s pretty much zero hour here, many of these players need to start scoring.

Definitely no time like the present to make an impression.