The Boston Bruins came as close as a team can come to winning Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final without actually doing so.
When you take a game deep into the third overtime, you are almost there. The Bruins had a boatload of chances in the overtime periods, but Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford continually frustrated shooters like Tyler Seguin, Nathan Horton, Zdeno Chara and Kaspars Daugavins.
Crawford's performance allowed the Blackhawks to come away with the epic 4-3 victory.
Despite the pain of losing after playing the equivalent of a hockey doubleheader, all is not lost for the Bruins. They can get back on the winning side by putting the following items on their Game 2 to-do list:
1. Score early goals. This is basic hockey strategy and it works most of the time. It did not work in Game 1 when Milan Lucic scored the first two goals of the game and the Bruins still lost in overtime.
But it's important to score first at the United Center. When the Blackhawks have the lead, it can be the most intimidating and loudest building in the league. Giving those fans a chance to turn up the decibel level by giving up an early one or two goals would almost certainly lead to defeat.
By far the loudest barn Bruins have played in this postseason. ACC, MSG, CONSOL were libraries. This place is nutbars. #Blackhawks— DJ Bean (@DJ_Bean) June 13, 2013
2. Keep the forecheck going. The Bruins depend on their strength and power when the puck is deep in the offensive zone. They don't usually make a lot of fancy passes, although Krejci and Patrice Bergeron are certainly capable. Boston takes the puck away from their opponents by pounding them in the corner and getting a strong forecheck going.
That strategy worked in the first three rounds of the playoffs, but it was not on display very often in the first game.
3. Don't take your foot off the accelerator. This may be a function of the previous step, but the team seemed to relax after Lucic scored at the 51-second mark of the second period. It looked like the Bruins might have their way with the Blackhawks in their home building, but they put it in cruise control at that moment.
Chicago outshot the Bruins 30-13 throughout the rest of regulation time. That would not have happened if the Bruins had kept pressing hard.
4. Bury your chances. This is a problem that rears its head occasionally for the Bruins. It certainly did in Game 1 when they could have ended the game at several points in the overtime sessions.
Nathan Horton had a chance to end it, but he could not control a rebound in the first overtime. Snake-bitten Tyler Seguin pounced on Rich Peverley's rebound, but Crawford smothered the shot.
Seguin also had a breakaway, but he could not make his backhand-forehand shootout move because the puck was not quite flat. Zdeno Chara hit the post late in the second overtime and then Kaspars Daugavins fumbled away perhaps the best chance when he was right in front of Crawford.
5. Realize the Blackhawks are a great team. The Blackhawks are not the Pittsburgh Penguins. They are not going to lose their minds if they have a bad period or give up a couple of goals.
The Blackhawks have a very high competition level and the Bruins are not going to benefit from an emotional outburst like the one Sidney Crosby had in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final. The sooner the Bruins realize this, the better chance they will have of grinding the Blackhawks and winning a game on the road.
6. Stop pointing the finger, Tuukka Rask. After the Game 1 loss, Tuukka Rask dutifully met with the media and answered questions. In doing so, he pointed to Dave Bolland's goal in the third period that cut the Bruins' lead to 3-2. He said the goal was the result of a "terrible" turnover, via the Big Bad Blog of WEEI 93.7.
While he didn't mention any names, rookie defenseman Torey Krug made the errant pass up the middle that Andrew Shaw intercepted, carried into the Bruins' zone and passed to Bolland.
Rask has to stop pointing his finger in public at his teammates.