The Boston Bruins were fortunate to leave Amalie Arena with a split in their second-round Stanley Cup playoff series after being outplayed for large stretches of both games in Tampa Bay against the Lightning.
After tallying 24 shots in a series-opening win, the B’s had just 20 shots on net in their 4-2 loss in Game 2 on Monday night, and just seven of them came in the third period when Boston was trailing the entire frame. The B’s 5-on-5 shot total was 13 — far less than its average during the regular season.
The Bruins had little trouble getting shots through to the net in Round 1 versus the Toronto Maple Leafs. Boston tallied 30-plus shots in six of seven games against the Leafs, and 40-plus shots in three of those contests.
Tampa Bay is smarter and more disciplined than Toronto, and the Bolts also have a much-better blue line than the Leafs. Therefore, the Bruins will need to fight harder to get into the slot, make a stronger effort to crash the net on rebounds and get in Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy’s face with net-front traffic so he can’t feel comfortable in the crease.
If the Bruins are able to make these adjustments they should create many more high-quality scoring chances, and we know they have the high-end skill to bury them — the first line, specifically.
Here are some other notes from Bruins-Lightning Game 2:
— The B’s need to be much better on breakouts, specifically with their passes up the boards. Too often the B’s are not making accurate passes out of their own zone, and that’s allowing opponents to create prolonged stretches of attacking-zone pressure. This has been an issue for the B’s since the middle of the Leafs series.
— Boston’s top line of David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand dominated Game 1 and scored three of the team’s six goals. This line played well Monday night, too, with Bergeron (one assist), Pastrnak (one assist) and Marchand (two assists) all finding the scoresheet.
The issue for the B’s was their secondary scoring. Riley Nash, Tim Schaller, Danton Heinen and Noel Acciari all failed to tally a single shot on goal. Jake DeBrusk only had one.
— Bruins rookie Charlie McAvoy scored his first career playoff goal with 1:30 left in the opening period.
— Brayden Point had an excellent regular season (32 goals, 34 assists) as the Lightning’s second-line center, and he’s been fantastic in this series with five points, including a goal and three assists in Game 2.
— Jon Cooper now is 8-1 in his last nine Game 2s as Lightning head coach.