Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Senators send the Bruins home after a hard-fought battle

When I picked the Bruins to win in round 1 against the Senators, I failed to consider how many injuries they had at the time, and that is what ultimately broke them. It wasn't the coaching, as interim coach Bruce Cassidy did a fine job (18-8-1) after taking over from the longtime Bruins coach, Claude Julien, who was fired in February. It wasn't goaltending, either. Tukka Rask finished with a .920 Sv% in the playoffs - not too shabby. Sure, there were some bad penalties, but ultimately the Bruins were missing some key players.

Most notably, forward David Krejci missed the first two games in the series with an upper body injury. Krejci returned to the ice for games 3 and 4, only to get taken down by a knee hit from Senators defenseman Chris Wideman near the end of the first period in game 5. Adding insult to injury, reports say that chirping, directed at Krejci, was heard from the Ottowa bench as Krejci was helped off the ice. Interestingly enough, this might have been just what the Bruins needed to rally, and they ended up winning game 5 in double overtime.

Of course, Krejci sat out game 6 with a lower body injury, and that's the way the cookie crumbles. The Bruins lost in overtime - the 4th OT of the series. It was a valiant effort, though. Tukka Rask had 26 saves. Drew Stafford and Patrice Bergeron each scored a goal.

The Senators move on to face the New York Rangers in round 2.

The Good:

At just 19 years, Charlie McAvoy made his NHL debut with the Bruins in game 1, and made quite an impression with 3 assists and 5 shots in six games. He was called up to fill in for the Bruin's critically depleted defense, and joins the ranks of outstanding young American-born players like Auston Mathews and Zach Werenski who are making a profound impact this season. He is one to watch next season.

The Bad:

Injuries. So many injuries. There was starting second-line center Krejci, and on defense: Kruge, Carlo, and McQuaid - all in their starting six. Drawing bad penalties didn't help them either, considering that their best penalty killers (Carlo and McQuaid) were on that injury list.

The Ugly:

So this one was controversial. In game 3, the Bruins came back from a 3-0 deficit to force an OT, and then the Senators Bobby Ryan scored on a power play due to this call. It looks like both players should have received matching penalties, but in this case, they only tapped Bruins Riley Nash for roughing.

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