Why the Bruins Lost
By Patrick Hoffman
I know that this is strange coming from someone who was a New Yorker for the better part of 26 years, but I have a soft spot for the Boston Bruins and other sports teams in Bean Town.
I went to Stonehill College in Easton, MA from 2002-2006. During that time, I went to several Bruins and Boston Red Sox games, went to the Sox's 2004 Championship parade, and immersed myself in their sports culture. It was actually quite awesome.
This is why I felt badly for Bruins' fans when their Bruins were beat in five games by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The B's were a team that surprised everyone this season by being not only one of the best teams in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference, but in the entire NHL.
Unfortunately, the club did not bring their best when it mattered most. Sure, they beat a good Toronto Maple Leafs tam in the first round, but it took seven games to do so.
There are several reasons why the B's will no longer be playing at the most important time of the year. For starters, their netminder, Tuuka Rask, was not very good.
Before you say that I am a Rask hater, please know that I am the exact opposite. I believe that Rask is an elite goaltender who has stolen many a game for this franchise as their starting netminder.
With that said, however, he just as not been elite when it comes to the postseason. He finished these playoffs with a 2.88 goals against average and a .903 save percentage, certainly numbers that won't help a team get to where they need to be come June.
In this postseason, Rask allowed several softies. There were times when he was out of position, guessing on shots, or his angle was off and when that happens, pucks tend to find the back of the net.
It should be noted that Rask really did not get much help this year when he needed the team in front of him to be at their best. As of this writing (May 6), the Bruins have allowed the most goals in the postseason with 37 allowed in 12 games.
If you're counting at home, that's not very good. The team's defense was sluggish, missed assignments in their own zone, did not clear rebounds from the front of the net and as a whole, did not do enough to help out their goaltender.
Another problem for the Bruins was Brad Marchand's antics in both rounds. He had a "licking problem" and while it was harmless and amusing, it was not the right way to go about being a pest to the other hockey club.
What Marchand should have done was play like he did in the regular season. He forechecked hard, finished his checks, and towed the line in getting under the other team's skin.
Lastly, the officiating in this series was extremely inconsistent. Calls were missed, penalties were given out when they should not have been, and some players did a good job of selling things to get the officials to call a penalty.
When you look at the playoffs as a whole, the Bruins did not do what they needed to win a Cup. Rask was inconsistent, the team's defense as a whole was awful, and Marchand got away from doing what he did all regular season long to bother the opponent and instead became a sideshow.
While you can easily blame the officiating for some of the things that occurred in this series, this team did it to themselves and that is why there season is over.
Previously, Patrick has covered the NHL for Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, About.com, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.