Monday, May 04, 2009
SLOPPY SECOND (GAME)
You have to tip your cap to Cam Ward and the Carolina Hurricanes. After shying from physicality in Game 1, the Canes actively sought contact, won their share of battles along the boards, and didn't simply let themselves be pushed around. Cam Ward was at his 2006 Conn Smythe best, and the B's were shutout for the first time since March 10th.
But the Bruins did their part in losing this game. The most successful aspect of their Game 1 strategy was dominating the crease in front of Cam Ward, screening him, tipping in goals, and so forth. Lucic was the best at doing this in Game 1, and his screen allowed Aaron Ward's opening goal to escape Cam Ward's vision.
In Game 2, the Canes clogged the slot, and the Bruins willingly didn't fight to retake control of the front of the net. They played an outside game, like a three point shooting college basketball team. The Bruins adapted to Carolina's strategy instead of fighting against it, which normally is good, but it wasn't in Game 2.
Cam Ward is not going to get caught out of position, because his post-to-post speed keeps him in every play. You can pass from the point, to the corner, to the back of the net, back to the point; but you won't catch him making a mistake, or being too slow to keep up with where the puck is. In order to beat Cam Ward, you have to play a tight, hard game up front. Get tips, create screens, take away his outstanding eyesight.
In Game 2, the Bruins utterly failed to make the neutral zone their own. They allowed the Hurricanes to take it with minimal effort. The B's used this super conservative defensive gameplan against Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals during the season. I'm not a big fan of it. In trying to stop Carolina's excellent counterattacking, the Bruins actually enabled it. Simultaneously, the B's refusal to challenge Carolina in the neutral zone eliminated any chance of a Bruin counterattack. Did you notice how many more odd man rushes the Bruins had in Game 1 compared to Game 2? Because I did.
Blake Wheeler needs to remember how to shoot.
Andrew Ference needs to clear off just a bit more rust.
It's unfortunate that the Bruins best line in Game 2 was their 4th line.
Milan Lucic needs to not knee an opponent, especially after a whistle.
The Bruins need to remember that there are 20 fucking minutes in a period, not 19 minutes and 55 seconds. That reviewed non-goal was a goal, and it wasn't a goal. Did the puck cross the line? I don't know. But I do know that it should have never had a chance to come near the line.
The Bruins need to bear down (hahaha, bear) as the series shifts to Raleigh. That's a tough place to play, believe it or not. There aren't many hockey fans in North Carolina, but those that are fans are some of the most passionate for the game. The Bruins will also give up the privilege of last change, so matching up Chara against Eric Staal will become much more difficult.
Two days off is a good amount of time to prepare to fight Carolina for control over the crease, and domination of the neutral zone.
Game 2, Wednesday night.
AP Photo/Winslow Townson
AP Photo/Charles Krupa