The Senator’s 1-3-1 trap worked to perfection in Game 4 as the Bruins were held scoreless in a 1-0 loss. Down 3-1 in the series to an Ottawa team that has defeated Boston in seven of their eight matchups this season certainly doesn’t favor the Black & Gold. But, every game in the series has been decided by one goal. Here are some things to consider before you press the panic button prior to tonight’s Game 5 in Ottawa.
Water finds its level
Through four games, only three of the Bruins top six forwards have found the back of the net, while no player has scored multiple times. Brad Marchand, the leagues fourth highest scorer, has more penalty minutes (4) than goals (1). But, it’s hard to imagine the Bruins scoring struggles continuing for much longer. Marchand fired six shots on goal in Game 4 –- including two breakaway opportunities — without a goal. Ottawa can only give a lethal goal scorer like Marchand so many chances before he begins to capitalize. The left winger averages a goal every six shots he takes, he’s taken 10 since his last score in Game 1. He’s overdue.
With 24 shots per game, Boston ranks dead last among playoff teams in the category. Despite that, the Bruins have only been shutout once. Craig Anderson’s .917 save percentage in the series ranks him twelfth among the 14 goalies who have played in all four playoff games. If the Bruins can get more pucks on net, they will likely find the goal production they lacked in Game 4.
The Bruins have yet to play a game in this series with their top D pairing together. In fact, Zedeno Chara hasn’t played a full game with a fellow top four defender these playoffs. But, the makeshift defense held Ottawa to one goal in both Games 1 and 4. Tuukka Rask has stood on his head for the better part of this series, bailing out his inexperienced defense. Head coach Bruce Cassidy said earlier today he doesn’t expect any defenseman back for Game 5. But, if the same Rask, who stuffed Erik Karlsson in the first period and Alex Burrows and Kyle Turris on consecutive power play shots in the third period, shows up tonight the Bruins will have more than enough protecting their cage.
The Bruins need to win three consecutive games to advance to the second round. Two of three games will be played away from TD Garden. The Bruins are one of three teams in the NHL this season which won more games on the road than at home. Although the Bruins’ road winning percentage is only one hundredth of a point better, it shows they aren’t reliant on playing at home.
The Bruins lone win against the Senators in eight attempts this season came in Game 1 in Ottawa. There are many things that stand in the way of the Bruins improbable comeback, avoiding the frustrated Boston crowd is not one of the issues for the struggling unit.
History Repeats Itself
In 2013, we saw the Bruins fall to a 3-1 deficit against Toronto only to comeback from down three goals in Game 7 and advance out of the first round. This Bruins team is a long way from the Stanley Cup Final the 2013 team reached, but the series isn’t over yet. In mid- January, no one saw this team making the playoffs. One game from elimination, the Bruins will once again have to dig themselves out of a hole, one game at a time.