2011 NHL Playoffs: What Must the Boston Bruins Do To Get Back in the Series?
The Boston Bruins have lost the first two games at home in their best of seven first round series with the Montreal Canadiens. They came into the playoffs as Northeast division champions finishing seven points ahead of the Montreal Canadiens. Their last game in the regular season versus Montreal saw them defeat the Canadiens 7-0 while chasing Carey Price from the nets after he gave up five goals on 33 shots. All that has proved meaningless in the first round of the playoffs.
The Bruins have given up the first two goals in each playoff game so far. They have been outscored in those two games 5-1 while outshooting Montreal 66-46. This series seems to be following the one Montreal put together last year with desperate defense, incredible goaltending, and timely scoring overcoming a dearth of deep talent on their side.
The Bruins while dominating huge stretches of play haven't managed to threaten in either of their two home games. Now they must go to Montreal and win game three in order to try to start to turn this series around. What they are doing isn't working. It is time to change things up before it's too late and they get upset like the Capitals and Penguins did last year.
This slideshow is a list of the things I think they should try.
Change the Goaltender
What has gone wrong so far in Boston is not Tim Thomas's fault. That said the easiest way to get a team's attention is to change the goalie. It makes them refocus on their defensive responsibilities. The Bruins are in an funk and need to shake themselves out of it, now.
Tim Thomas had the best regular season in the league, but Tuukka Rask is a very good goaltender. Putting in last years starter represents no risk for the Bruins. If they wait until game four to try this change it will be too late.
Crash the Net
The Bruins had a good offensive regular season. Their two leading scorers were power forwards Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton. They need to carve out a spot in front of Carey Price in order to be effective. Their physical presence is required to make life miserable for Montreal's defense and to shake things up for Carey Price. Price has been stopping everything so far. They need to get him rattled they way he was in 2009 when he lost all four games he started for the Canadiens versus the Bruins.
Hard rock Chris Kelly should be called on to stand in front of Price when he can as well. The Bruins need to keep Price from seeing the puck.
Tyler Seguin has been a healthy scratch versus Montreal so far. While he never found his pace in the regular season, scoring 11 goals and 22 points in 74 games, Seguin is a young talented player who can infuse the Bruin line-up with youthful energy and enthusiasm. Any quick talented player is needed in the line-up right now. Recchi and Ryder aren't doing it.
Tighten Up the Defense
The Bruins gave up the second most shots on goal against a game this season( 32.7). They're not giving up the same number of shots versus Montreal but they are coughing up chances all game long.
Tomas Kaberle has been a turn-over machine all over the ice. With Chara out because of dehydration (the flu?) the defense has looked that much skinnier and older.
Boston needs to be more careful with the puck in their own zone and pressure some of Montreal's turnover machines (Jaroslav Spacek) and get them to give up the puck.
The Bruins need to score first. Montreal has gotten the first goal in every game. They score and then lean back and play that dreary rope a dope style that got them to the Eastern Final last year. They sit and wait to counterattack while the Bruins wear themselves out trying get to the net.
Scoring first psychologically will be a big boost for the Bruins especially in Montreal where it should help to take the crowd out of the game. Montreal can come from behind but they are a different team when doing so. That might be a Montreal team the Bruins can beat.