Boston has a remarkable record when being outshot, going 22-10-5 in such games during the regular season. And the Bruins have been even better in the playoffs, holding a 9-3 mark when allowing more shots.
But eventually giving up more chances than you're generating will catch up to a team, and that has been the case in the Eastern Conference final against Tampa Bay. The Lightning have been responsible for all three of Boston's losses when getting outshot this postseason, with those wins helping Tampa force a Game 7 on Friday.
The Bruins have been outshot in every game of this series, with Tampa averaging 33.8 shots to Boston's 27.2. The difference has been even more pronounced in the last two games, when the Bruins have managed just 20 shots in each.
"That's an area for sure that we want to improve on," Bruins coach Claude Julien said on Thursday as his club prepared for Friday's decisive Game 7 at the Garden. "We need more shots. We scored four goals on them in 20 shots [in Wednesday's 5-4 loss in Game 6]. So if we can up that a little bit and maybe it will certainly give us an opportunity to win the game. But we know we can create a little bit more offensively as far as shots are concerned."
What made the lack of shots on Wednesday more frustrating was the fact that Tampa goalie Dwayne Roloson has been so beatable this series. He came into this round leading the league in playoff goals-against average at 2.01 and save percentage at .941, but he's struggled mightily against the Bruins.
Roloson has been pulled from two games and was benched for Game 5. He did return for Game 6 and got the win, improving to 7-0 in elimination games, but he was shaky at times. Roloson allowed four goals on just 20 shots, and appeared to expose a weakness in his game when both Milan Lucic and David Krejci beat him high to the glove side with shots to the top right corner.
They'll need to continue to test that glove hand and, like they need to against any goalie, they have to continue to get traffic in front to create screens, tips and rebound chances. But most of all, they need to put more pucks on the net.
"I just think it's a mindset," Julien said. "You got to be willing to take those pucks to the net, throw more pucks at the net. And if everybody's on the same page, everybody's going that way. And we've been able to do that before so we're going to do that again [Friday]."
Overall, Roloson has allowed 17 goals on just 114 shots in the series, posting a 4.32 GAA and an .851 save percentage. But the Bruins still respect what he is capable of doing in the net, and don't expect beating him Friday to be easy.
"He's been playing extremely well for them," Bruins forward Gregory Campbell said. "We've just been stressing traffic in front of them, creating a lot of guys in front of the net. Krech [David Krejci] got a goal there with kind of a scramble to the net there. And just, we have to be relentless with him. He is making the first saves and if he sees the puck he's going to make the save. So he's like any other goaltender. Nobody likes traffic, so I think that's the approach we have to take."
For his part, Roloson said he felt "good" about his performance in Game 6.
"I don't really look at my performance," he added. "For me it's about team. It's always been about team, and we won, and that's for us all that matters."
Tampa coach Guy Boucher was somewhat reserved when asked about Roloson's play immediately after Game 6.
"We won," Boucher said. "That's all. That's what we're asking. We're asking him for a chance to win, and that's what we got."
Boucher was a little more effusive with his praise on Thursday after confirming that Roloson will indeed get the start again in Game 7.
"You know, if you look at the last six minutes of the game [on Wednesday], he was right there and holding the fort," Boucher said. "That's what he's done since he's been with us. So whether it's during the season or in the playoffs, he's held the fort in those times. So I know him. He's a competitor, and tomorrow's a great day to compete. So he'll be competing."
The Bruins just have to make sure they give him enough to compete against by generating more chances and putting plenty of shots on — and past — the veteran netminder.
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