Things are not going well in Round 2 for the Boston Bruins, it’s true.
A week or so ago when Brad Marchand scored from an impossible angle to win Game 3 for Boston in OT, things were going great.
But ever since then, it’s been almost comical the misfortune the Bruins have faced: bad bounces, bad calls, injuries, wide open nets missed, etc, etc, etc.
But enough about the bad stuff!
Let’s look at why Bruins fans should still be cautiously optimistic about Boston’s chances, starting with the obvious fact that this series is still not over.
As bad as it seems right now, a victory tonight would send this series back to Boston for a winner-take-all Game 7, and you’d have to like the Bruins’ chances in a situation like that.
Here are some other bright spots to keep in mind going into Game 6 in New York:
- The Bruins have won 2+ games in a row seven times this year, including one stretch of five-straight wins in these playoffs.
- The Bruins have not lost three games in a row all season.
- The Bruins have won three out of their first five road games this postseason.
- Since 2010, the Bruins are 16-8 at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum- and have a chance to be the last visiting team to play an NHL game in this arena.
- The Bruins are dominating this series in shots, scoring chances, and puck possession (especially at 5v5).
- The Islanders are shooting the lights out in this series, and it’s not sustainable. Shooting percentages for the Islanders stars: Barzal 20%, Palmieri 33%, Bailey 25%, Pageau 15.4%, Cizikas 28.6%.
- In a similar vein, you have to think the shooting percentages for guys like Patrice Bergeron (4.8%) and Taylor Hall (6.7%) have to go up if this series continues.
- Game 5 was only the second time all season the Bruins gave up three PP goals in a game; this should not happen again.
- Much of the Bruins’ troubles in Game 5 were self-inflicted, including not being able to clear the puck on the penalty kill (and putting themselves on the penalty kill so often to begin with). They can be better.
- Semyon Varlamov’s .936 SV% is much higher than his career .916 SV%. You would expect this number to regress at some point.
- Game 5 was one of Tuukka Rask’s worst statistical performances in his playoff career. Rask, if healthy, should be able to rebound.
- David Pastrnak (5 goals and 3 assists) and Brad Marchand (3 goals and 4 assists) are on fire.
- Many of the Bruins on this team have experience winning in elimination games on the road (during 2019’s playoff run, for example).
While these reasons for optimism are fine (and there are probably many more that are not included), the problem, of course, is that they’re all in the past, and the Bruins need to focus of the present.
Still, we could all use some positive vibes, right?
What Boston really needs to come back in this series is for the team to play up to it’s full potential for 60 minutes. That means playing every shift like it’s the most important of the season.
The good thing for the Bruins is that this is entirely possible. We’ve seen them dominate long stretches in this series. The Bruins have done a great job limiting Islander shots, puck possession, and scoring chances at most times, all while generating quality opportunities for themselves.
The problem, it seems, is that in every game, the Bruins have had a few lapses in judgment that the Islanders have turned into costly mistakes by capitalizing on them.
Clean those up going forward, and perhaps the Bruins can turn this series around.
Given the way this series has played out, it’s easy to believe that fate is against the Bruins, or perhaps the hockey gods hate this team, but neither are true.
Every night, there are limitless possibilities to how a game will play out: a fortunate bounce here or there can be the difference between winning or losing, or a ref’s call or non-call can have serious implications.
In spite of the luck, on most occasions, the better team usually wins a hockey game.
The problem for Boston, though, is that what should be the better team is currently out of chances.
How’s your level of optimism going into Game 6?