What Went Wrong for the Bruins?
Photo Credit: Sporting News
The Boston Bruins took major strides in the 2017-2018 season, but their very promising campaign fell just short of the Eastern Conference Final.
After a promising start to their series against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Boston Bruins were ultimately eliminated by their Atlantic Division foes. The Bruins routed Tampa Bay in Game 1, but after that nothing seemed to go quite right for the black and gold, but what exactly went wrong?
Here are the five main reason that the Boston Bruins were eliminated by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Lack of even strength production outside the first line
The Bruins’ top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak dominated all year long, but when they slumped during the regular season, the rest of the team picked up the slack. This was not the case during the playoffs.
In both of their 2018 playoff series, the Bruins were able to win games when the first line took over, but when that wasn’t the case, they racked up a lot of losses.
The Lightning did a good job of slowing down the Bruins top line and no one else was able to pick up the slack. It takes effective scoring depth to make a run at the cup, but the Bruins didn’t have it when it mattered most.
The Bruins also weren’t able to do much in the 5-on-5 department. Between games two through five, the team only managed one even-strength goal.
Too many injuries to the blue line
Boston saw major improvements on the defensive end this season, but they still don’t have high quality depth.
This made things rather difficult when Brandon Carlo was lost for the year just before the playoffs got under way. Fans had a habit of criticizing Carlo this season because his play wasn’t as stellar as his 2016-2017 campaign, however, the 21-year-old defenseman still had a solid year with a +10 rating.
Losing Carlo forced the likes of Torey Krug, Matt Grzelcyk, and Adam McQuaid to play much better and accumulate more minutes. While this trio didn’t play bad by any means, they weren’t enough to hold down the fort.
It was pretty much a nail in the coffin for the Bruins when Torey Krug went down in Game 4—the already thin Bruins blue line simply ran out of players.
It’s a shame to see the Bruins lose so many defensive players during the playoffs in back to back seasons, but the Stanley Cup Playoffs are very unforgiving sometimes.
Lack of physicality against the Lightning
The Bruins are a very physical team and pride themselves on their ability to hit hard and hit well, but they were outhit against the Lightning.
This caught the Bruins off guard given the Lightning’s reputation of being a speed and finess oriented team.
As mentioned above, however, Boston is a very tough team physically and will like to use this failure as motivation heading in to next season.
Tuukka Rask was too inconsistent
While a 2.88 goals allowed average and .903 save percentage aren’t bad, Rask couldn’t deliver in several big moments.
Rask had several great stretches and periods throughout the team’s 12 playoff games, but as seen in Game 7 against the Maple Leafs, he once again succumbed to the pressure in some big moments.
The Lightning are pretty darn good
This may seem like a simple cop out answer, but the Lightning deserve some credit for what they were able to do.
They were the number one overall seed in the east for a reason—the likes of Nikita Kucherov and Vezina hopeful Andrei Vasilevskiy aren’t an easy team to beat four times in seven games.
The Bruins had issues in this series as outlined above, and while issues can be corrected and weathered throughout the season, too many against a team this good will doom you.