Two steps forward, one step back. That’s how the Stanley Cup Finals have gone for the Boston Bruins. They won Game 1 with a four-unanswered-goal comeback, taking it 4-2. They dominated Game 3 scoring four power play goals and winning 7-2. Unfortunately, Game 4 played similarly to Game 2. The Bruins couldn’t maintain the puck in the offensive zone, couldn’t keep it out of their own, and committed far too many turnovers. They lost Game 2 in overtime 3-2, then lost Game 4 by a score of 4-2. Both losses also came with injuries to the Bruins defense. In Game 2 Matt Grzelcyk was hit by Oskar Sundqvist and hasn’t played since due to a concussion. In Game 4 Zdeno Chara deflected the puck into his face and it’s reported that he has a broken jaw.
Tied at 2, the series is now a best-of-three. Game 5 is in Boston, as well as Game 7 if necessary. The Bruins will look to utilize the home crowd and light up the scoreboard early. They’ll need to establish and maintain offensive zone time and shoot at the net every chance they get. In both losses the Bruins had significantly fewer shots on goal than the Blues. Tuukka Rask has been amazing throughout the playoffs, but he’s going to need more offensive help to win the Stanley Cup.
Utilizing the Power Play
The Bruins haven’t been as productive during 5-on-5 play lately, so the key will be drawing penalties. They’ve been lethal on the power play and that can jump-start the full-strength offense. The Blues have been physical with several borderline (and a few egregious) hits, so getting a few calls should be inevitable. If the Bruins can capitalize on those chances and get something going, maintain puck possession, and cut down on turnovers, they’ll have a great chance of winning.
The defensive situation is a big question. Matt Grzelcyk was at practice on Wednesday, which is good news. But he was wearing the red, “no-contact”, jersey. So whether or not he plays in Game 5 remains to be seen. Chara is another question mark. There still hasn’t been any official word on him or his availability, but he wasn’t at practice on Wednesday. He’s consistently led the Bruins in ice time, so if he can’t play that leaves the Bruins with a large defensive hole. The current speculation is that Coach Bruce Cassidy will dress seven defensemen, instead of the usual five, to fill that void.
The Bruins had to win Game 3, and to do so they would have to play their best game of the season. They did. This time even more is on the line and they’ll have to play just as tough. They can’t allow the Blues to win Game 5 in Boston and go back to St. Louis to potentially win it all. Game 5 is an absolute must-win for the Bruins, and they’ll need all four lines showing up in force to do so. The series, the season, and the Stanley Cup is on the line.