The Bruins have not scored a first period goal this series. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins have not scored a first period goal this series. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins finished the regular season with the 72 first period goals. That figured ranked as the sixth-most in the NHL, too. That tune has changed in the postseason, however, and has worked against the Bruins for a 3-1 series deficit heading into a must-win Game 5.

Through the first four games of their round one series with the Senators, the Bruins have yet to score a first period goal. Zero. Of the 16 playoff teams, only the Blackhawks have experienced a similar fate, and they were eliminated in four games behind last night’s series-sweeping 4-1 defeat at the hands of Pekka Rinne and the Predators.

The Bruins were better in the first period of the last game, too, but were unable to find the back of the net on 12 opening frame shots.

“The positives are we had very good chances early on. We were flat in the first period the other night (Game 3), we wanted to address that,” Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy said after Wednesday’s Game 4 loss, the club’s third loss in a row and what ended as a 22-shot night for the B’s. “We’ve had pretty good first periods here getting leads and getting teams on their heels and tilting the ice our way. It started that way. It just didn’t finish.

“Give [Craig Anderson] credit. But, you’ve got to stick with it.”

That’s the thing for the Bruins, too. The Senators, especially at home, are more than content to sit back and let this game come to them. They’ve held the Bruins to less than 30 shots in all four games of this series, and Anderson has rarely been tested for high-quality chances against on anything close to a consistent basis. All four of these games have been one-goal decisions, and they’ve favored the Sens in three straight games, so why would they change their approach? It’s worked.

So, if there’s a time for the B’s best wingers, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, to show up, it’s in the first period of this game.

Marchand, who has one goal in four games this series, came to play with his best period of the series in the opening 20 of Game 4, with two breakaways and a one-timer that went just wide of a direct connection, has scored 10 goals and 26 points (the 21-most points in the NHL) in ‘close’ games during the regular season. He’s also saved some of his best goals this year for when the Black and Gold were up against the wall. Pastrnak, meanwhile, has fired just two shots on goal this series, and could be a true gamebreaker in the sense that the Sens do not have many defenders that can match the speed of the 20-year-old winger. That can show, too, if the Sens rely on deploying Erik Karlsson against the club’s third line, which they have done quite a bit this series.

Elsewhere in the lineup, Ryan Spooner will be a somewhat healthy scratch for Sean Kuraly. The 24-year-old Kuraly skated in the first two games of this series, and had five hits and a blocked shot in 16:21 of total time on ice.

Tuukka Rask gets the call in the B’s net. Rask did everything but get the win in his last start, with stops on 26-of-27 shots in a 1-0 loss, and comes into action with a .913 save percentage for the series. Anderson will be in the Ottawa crease. He stopped all 22 shots against in Wednesday’s 1-0 victory, and has surrendered just eight goals on 96 shots against this series.

The Bruins have never come back from a 3-1 series deficit, but have found a way to force a Game 7 in their last two 3-1 holes.

Here are the expected lines and pairings for the Bruins…

Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Backes

Drew Stafford – David Krejci – David Pastrnak

Dominic Moore – Riley Nash – Noel Acciari

Tim Schaller – Sean Kuraly – Frank Vatrano

Zdeno Chara – Charlie McAvoy

Joe Morrow – Kevan Miller

John-Michael Liles – Colin Miller

Tuukka Rask

 

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

The Bruins have never overcome a 3-1 series deficit. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)The Bruins are once again teetering towards the cliff that would spell their demise.



Game 5 in Ottawa will be played without one of the club’s key power-play contributors and 78-game presence during the regular season, as Bruins center Ryan Spooner will miss tonight’s must-win contest.

Ryan Spooner will miss Game 5 tonight. (Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports)

Ryan Spooner will miss Game 5 tonight. (Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports)

Game 5 in Ottawa will be played without one of the club’s key power-play contributors and 78-game presence during the regular season, as Bruins center Ryan Spooner will miss tonight’s must-win contest.

Replaced on a de facto fourth line by Sean Kuraly, who played in Games 1 and 2, for Friday’s morning skate, Spooner’s return to the press box was confirmed by Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy following the morning skate at Canadian Tire Center.

“Ryan’s not 100 percent, and we liked Sean’s game up here,” Cassidy said. “He’s good on getting on pucks, and forecheck has been a big part of how we’re able to create some of our offense, and he gives us that.

“I don’t know what’s going on mentally, but physically yes, [Spooner is] not 100 percent, which listen, there’s guys throughout the series that end up like that, but I don’t want to expand anymore than that. We liked the way Sean’s played, as much as anything.”

In spite of his five-on-five struggles this series, Spooner has been productive at less than 100 percent, with two assists (both secondary assists scored on power-play goals), which means that this ailment has to be something significant, no?

“No, he could play, we’re just making a decision,” admitted Cassidy. “It’s more about what Sean brings right now than Ryan.”

That means that this is more about providing an extra jump in the forechecking and defensive game, which you will get with Kuraly in over Spooner, especially after a Game 4 defensive zone gaffe from his entire line that led to the game’s only goal.

But Spooner’s loss will affect a Boston power play that’s accounted for two of the B’s eight goals through four games. In his place, the Bruins are expected to go with the full load-up plan that will put David Krejci in his spot on the first unit.

“Clearly Ryan does some very good things for us, I’m not going to address everything,” Cassidy said. “But we just made a decision that Sean is a center as well that can also play the wing that will bring us some good qualities as well.”

Kuraly has five hits, a blocked shot, and has won two of five faceoffs in 16:21 of total time on ice in this series.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson

What's left of the Bruins' defense has gotten the job done in this series. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)After 86 games between the regular season and playoffs, the Bruins are what they are.



The Bruins fell into a 3-1 series hole with a 1-0 loss in Game 4 at TD Garden. We got reaction from Patrice Bergeron, David Backes, Brad Marchand and more. Watch below. (Video courtesy Josh Dolan.)

Blog Author: 
WEEI
Bruce Cassidy's team has made a habit of taking penalties at bad times. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Bruce Cassidy’s team has made a habit of taking penalties at bad times. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

For the third game in a row, an untimely penalty was costly for the Bruins.

A too-many-men penalty with 4:10 remaining in the third period forced the Bruins to have to kill time while trailing 1-0, and they then struggled to set their offense in the final two minutes. The Bruins had a 13-minute stretch without a shot on goal, and finished with just 22 overall and never could get into a rhythm late.

“It was a little harder to create some [chances],” said Patrice Bergeron. “Once they got that goal they were closing us a little bit more and we have got to find ways to put pucks in deep and go back to what we’ve been doing earlier in that game.”

That call at the end of the game comes on the heels of a Riley Nash penalty in overtime during Game 3 and a Zdeno Chara delay of game call in Game 2 that led directly to Senators goals that won those contests.

In Game 4, the Bruins penalty kill was a perfect 3-for-3, but that doesn’t hide the fact that untimely penalties have been problematic.

Every game in the series has been decided by one goal, all the more reason for discipline to be at the forefront.

“Usually games are very tight,” Chara said. “Some of the games could have went our way but they didn’t and we can’t be blaming that or be frustrated, we need to keep our heads up and get ready for the next one.”

Especially on a shortened roster, where two defensemen in Charlie McAvoy and Joe Morrow saw little-to-no time all season, those man-down situations wear out the defense.

“I thought what we’ve asked our defensemen to do, I think they’ve done a pretty good job for guys that got thrown into the situation,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “But, part of what we talk about for our guys is to own your moments. You’re getting an opportunity, and one that you probably wanted more of during the year. So, you’re asking a lot. But, by the same token, that’s what’s in front of them.”

The first penalty of the contest was on Kevan Miller in the opening frame, and with he and Chara the only remaining blueliners who were regular penalty killers all season, that proves even more costly.

On the other end, the Bruins also haven’t been able to get calls their way.

“Our power play through the course of the year has generated offense,” said Cassidy. “We haven’t drawn enough penalties too. So, we’ve got to look at ourselves there and say, how can we get on the power play and get inside more often, force them to pull you down a little bit.”

The Bruins have a chance to extend the series to a Game 6 on Garden ice if they can win on Friday in Ottawa, but with an offense that has struggled to put the puck in the net, continuing to give away opportunities could burn them.

Blog Author: 
Marisa Ingemi

Brad Marchand continues to be snake-bitten, and no one else is really stepping up.</p>
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Battered long before the start of their first round series with the Senators, the Bruins are an injured mess. And their health situation may have gotten even worse following Game 4’s 1-0 loss.

Frank Vatrano left TD Garden wearing a walking boot. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Bruins winger Frank Vatrano left TD Garden wearing a walking boot. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

 

Battered long before the start of their first round series with the Senators, the Bruins are an injured mess. And their health situation may have gotten even worse following Game 4’s 1-0 loss.

Following a somber locker room media session led by many of the club’s leaders, Bruins winger Frank Vatrano made his way out of the arena wearing a suit, but also sported a walking boot.

It’s hard to see exactly what could have bothered Vatrano, who finished Game 4 with one shot on goal, three hits, and a minus-1 rating in 9:59 of time on ice on a line with Ryan Spooner and Drew Stafford.

The potential loss of Vatrano, who scored 10 goals and 18 points in 44 games for the B’s this season, would simply add another hobbling body to an injury squad headlined by the club’s top four defense corps in Brandon Carlo (upper-body), Torey Krug (lower-body), and Adam McQuaid (upper-body).

The Bruins will not have practice on Thursday morning, so the earliest update will come from Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy’s media availability, which will be held at 11 a.m. at Warrior Ice Arena.

The 23-year-old Vatrano has one goal, six shots, and 12 hits in four games this season.

Blog Author: 
Ty Anderson