What many thought would be a long, drawn-out series proved to be a shorter five-game set. The Boston Bruins may have lost Game 1, but they dominated play the rest of the way. Reckless penalties may have put the series in doubt, but a pair of goals from Patrice Bergeron in Game 5 sealed the deal for Boston. As they prepare for the next round of postseason play, let’s reflect on their most recent victories.
Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins Headed to the Second Round
One of the biggest concerns for this roster coming into the playoffs was offensive depth. Those concerns have been pushed aside for now. Boston’s top line was certainly the main factor when discussing offence. After all, Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak, and Brad Marchand combined for 13 points in the five-game series. But the biggest thing is that they haven’t had to rely on them to do all the work. The bulk of the heavy lifting? Yes, but they had some help along the way.
In five games, only two Boston forwards came away without a point in the first-round series. Those two were Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner. As unfortunate as it is that they were unable to score, they are not guys Boston relies upon for offence. They play a role as gritty fourth-liners. Boston doesn’t necessarily need them to produce in order to be successful.
Taylor Hall’s addition to the roster played a massive role in this series. He scored the game-tying goal late in Game 2. Boston would go on to win in overtime. He also scored an incredible stick side goal over Ilya Samsonov’s shoulder in Game 3, also tying that game. He came close to scoring a third goal in Game 4 but unfortunately, the post had other plans. While some may have wanted to see more production than his three points in that span, no one can deny that he was an important addition to the roster.
Charlie McAvoy is playing the role he was drafted to fill. As the Bruins new top defenceman, McAvoy is expected to do great things every night. He did just that in this series. He stood strong on defence and helped generate offence with five assists in five games. Three of them came in an important Game 4 performance. McAvoy is proving to everyone that he is ready to be the top guy on defence.
Brandon Carlo is another guy that needs to be mentioned here. While McAvoy is a great defenceman, Boston needs him to play a two-way role. He is not only expected to shut down opposing forwards but to generate scoring chances as well. Carlo, on the other hand, just needs to eat up minutes. He does it better than anyone else on the roster. A true stay-at-home defenceman with a 6′ 5″ frame, Carlo is Boston’s big physical presence on the back end. He delivered 15 bone-shattering checks and blocked 13 shots during the series. If there is anyone suited to play strong defence on this roster, it’s Carlo.
In order to win any playoff series, you need goaltending. The Washington Capitals simply did not get that after Craig Anderson was replaced in net. Ilya Samsonov is certainly Washington’s goalie of the future. But Anderson was the better goalie for Washington in this series. He posted a .929 save percentage in his two appearances this postseason. While Anderson more than likely wouldn’t have won you a Stanley Cup, you have to ride the hot hand. Anderson was the hot hand in this case. Samsonov only managed to record a .899 save percentage in his three appearances. It was a rough postseason debut for the young goalie.
Boston got the goaltending they needed. Tuukka Rask has had his doubters over the course of his career. He hopes to prove them wrong this season. While there was competition for the Bruins backup job, no one doubted that Rask would be the starter. His .941 save percentage gets him off to a hot start. If he can keep his goals-against average right around where it is (1.81), Boston should have no trouble moving forward in the playoffs.
A Bittersweet Moment
Boston fans were surely happy to see their team move on in the playoffs. But the handshake line after Game 5 gave us a photo never before imaginable. Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara on opposite sides as one prepares to go home. Many in Boston retain their respect for Big Z even though he has moved on. It’s unfortunate that his postseason aspirations had to come to an end at the hands of the team he once led to a Stanley Cup.