The Bruins are dead. Done. Gonzo. Caput. Eliminated by the Tampa Bay Lightning in just five games. After watching game one, the only Boston win, and then game two, which the Lightning won in OT, I thought this would be a back and fourth series with the winner ultimately being the Lightning. I was halfway right. The winner of the series was the Lightning but it was anything but back and forth between the Bruins and Lightning. Boston won game one and Tampa Bay won the next four.
The Bruins were able to take the series lead in game one after winning 3-2. That was the only win the Bruins would muster in this series. The Bruins couldn’t get nearly enough production from secondary scoring. A tale as old as time, teams with no depth that depend entirely upon a “perfection line” for scoring rarely win playoff series. Well the “perfection line” was anything but perfect. Sure they played well, but the Bruins as a team only mustered 5 goals at 5v5. That is atrocious. You could have put the greatest goalie in the world in net for the Bruins and it wouldn’t have mattered. Only scoring one goal per game at even strength is a bold strategy to try and win games. I guess it did work for one game, but not the other four in this series.
The Bruins did get one series win this playoffs, but eventually the Presidents Cup Curse reared it’s ugly head. The curse seemed to start in the Round Robin considering they couldn’t get a single win against the top playoff squads. The curse hit again when their starting goaltender opted out of the bubble hours before game three against the Canes back in round one, Tuukka Rask would no longer play. Rask had every right to opt out of the season, I said that when he originally did it and I stand by that even more after learning his daughter was in the hospital. It really didn’t matter that Rask opted out. Any goalie could have been in net and I doubt the Bruins could have won that series. The Bruins would have needed an actual brick wall in front of the net to win with how little they could score themselves, especially at even strength.
The two leading scorers for the Bruins were the Rat King himself Brad Marchand and David Krejci, both had 12 points. Five of Marchand’s 12 came from the power play and 7 of Krejci’s 12 came on the power play. Even the top guys were heavily dependent on the power play for scoring. Yes scoring on the power play is important, but scoring at even strength is vital to a teams success. If a team wants to get all but five of their goals on the power play than good for them, but they had better find a way to draw enough penalties so that the game is played for the majority of the time at 5v4. Seems unrealistic, even for a Bruins team that seems to get a bunch of penalties in their favor. Even the Bruins can’t get 30 minutes of power play time. Would just be easier to score goals at 5v5, but what do I know.
Without even strength scoring teams clearly can’t win. You could say “but the Bruins won the most games this year and beat the Canes in the playoffs so they can still win games,” and to that I say, but did they win the Stanley Cup? The Bruins dependency on a “perfection line” worked in the regular season, but it shot the team in the foot come playoffs. Having the top three guys do everything doesn’t work, it didn’t work for the Avalanche in last years playoffs, and it didn’t work for the Bruins in this years playoffs.
It’s likely the big talking point of this series will be “well it would have gone differently had Rask been playing.” Which is ridiculous because Bruins fans have notoriously shit on Rask for being piss poor in the playoffs. Which just isn’t entirely true. A .926% save percentage over his career in the playoffs is pretty good, and a 2.20 goals allowed average would give almost any team a chance to win. If Bruins fans want to complain about anything it should be the lack of production at even strength. That was the ultimate demise of the Boston Bruins 2019-2020 playoff run.
The Bruins run comes to an end. It very well could be the last game Bruins Captain Zdeno Chara plays as well. The Russian giant is 43, if you believe Putin. Pretty convinced the ages of some of these Russian guys are fibbed just a bit. Svechnikov plays like he’s 25 not 20. Anyways, Chara isn’t getting any younger, the same can be said for the core group of the Bruins. As of now no word on what Chara will do, sources close to him say he wants to decide over the offseason. I know the guy is getting up there in age but I think he’s got just enough gas left in the tank to go on one more Stanley Cup run with the Bruins, or another team, next year.
The President’s Cup Curse claims it’s latest victim, last year it was the Lightning and this year the Bruins. Considering only four teams have ever won the Presidents Cup and the Stanley Cup in the same year I hope my team always gets second place in the regular season. Better odds at winning the Stanley Cup that way.