With the Bruins looking to take a stranglehold in the series against Carolina expect a push back from the Canes. This series has taken quite a few turns with the departure of Tuukka Rask and the now-injured Andrei Svechnikov on top of the unprecedented nature of the entire tournament.
What team imposes their will early will go a long way in determining the outcome of this series. With there being enough storylines to fill an ocean, let us look ahead to game 4, shall we?
The Bruins, first and foremost, must play their game. The one that has slowly begun to emerge over the last couple of contests. On paper, they are the better and more experienced unit but that means a little less in this year’s playoff. Being the best team during the regular season has little to no bearing on how the Bruins SHOULD perform this postseason.
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The first period is crucial for the Bruins. Especially given the fact that David Pastrnak will miss his third-straight game with an injury. A hot-start could be all the momentum the Bruins need to take a stranglehold of the series without their best player. Now, the win is certainly more important for Carolina but the Bruins can not allow this team to hang around. In addition, the quicker the series ends, the longer Pastrnak can rest.
In order to end the series sooner rather than later, the Bruins need to address the issues that have plagued them. For one, the play in their own zone has been less than ideal since game one. In reality, it has been that way since the exhibition game against the Flyers. Several mishaps have led to goals in a series that scoring comes at a premium. Self-inflicted wounds will even the playing field against any team. In addition, although improved in Game 3, inconsistent offensive zone play has been a staple of the Bruins play this Summer.
With that said, the Bruins’ best player from the start of the NHL’s return to play has been David Krejci. With the absence of Pasta on the top line, the need for Krejci to lead that second unit was paramount, and, to this point, he has more than delivered. In addition to his personal performance, budding chemistry with Ondrej Kase has given the second line with Jake DeBrusk’s new life at just the right time. Now, if only they could put the puck in the net…
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Fortunately for the Bruins, the depth of the team has had an impact early in the series. Boston will eventually need more from the aforementioned, DeBrusk, among others. Guys like Joakim Nordstrom and Charlie Coyle have elevated their play and “carried the load” sort-of-speak but eventually, the stars will have to be the stars.
Ultimately, the success or failures of this team will depend heavily on the play of goalie, Jaroslav Halak. In his first game since replacing Rask, Halak impressed, save for a puck handling gaffe that led to the Hurricanes’ only goal.
Admittedly, the mindset of a goalie is one I don’t fully understand. The position is full of high stress and angst. You’re either the hero or the GOAT. And no, not the GOAT in the way we use to describe Tom Brady. In fact, it is the exact opposite.
Replacing Rask will not be easy. Despite what some fans want you to believe. However, the Bruins could be in far worse shape than Halak as a backup. Arguably, Halak is the best backup in the league and carried a similar workload as Rask during the regular season. Many of the same fans who jumped on Rask clamored for Halak to be in net. Well, they will now get their wish. He was impressive in Game 3. However, the question will always be, can he do that for another 20+ games?
Puck drop is soon and the wait is almost over. How can the Bruins secure the win tonight? The answer has always been, play a full 60 minutes. Cliche? Yes. But it is the truth.