Bruins-Capitals Game 5, Series Takeaways: Thoughts, Analysis On Boston’s Win

Let's unpack a few things from Sunday and the last nine days


May 24, 2021

The Boston Bruins won in their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series with a 3-1 win over the Washington Capitals on Sunday night.

Here are some takeaways, thoughts and analysis from Game 5:

— A lot was made entering the series about Washington’s ability to play physical. The take from this writer was that the Bruins shouldn’t try to match the Capitals’ physicality, and wisely, the Bruins didn’t adhere to that suggestion entirely.

The Capitals are a uniquely constructed team, one that does a really fine job blending brawn and skill. But the Bruins did a good job holding their own in the “grit” regard and not getting sucked into bad penalties too often.

Kevan Miller had an obvious physical impact before getting injured in Game 4, but Chris Wagner, Nick Ritchie and Curtis Lazar did a good job in the hits department. Jarred Tinordi stepped in nicely during Game 5 and put his body on the opposition.

Ultimately, it was the Bruins who proved they had the perfect mixture of skill and brawn. They answered with their checks when needed to, but also found a way to actually score.

— Regardless of how far the Bruins go, you’re going to continue to hear a lot about how shrewd it was of Don Sweeney to pick up Taylor Hall, Mike Reilly and Lazar.

How about Tinordi?

A waiver pickup that pretty much anyone else in the league could’ve had, Tinordi came to the Bruins at a time they had razor-thin defensive depth. His time in Boston has been representative of his career as a whole, serving as a plug-in-and-play blueliner who most often is used as a spare piece.

But Tinordi deserves a lot of credit for coming in and being steady enough for the Bruins, who couldn’t shelter his pairing with Connor Clifton. The Tinordi-Clifton combo most often was on the ice against Washington’s middle six, and Tinordi ended up playing 18 minutes. His Corsi For percentage was 29.73, not a great measure. But considering the Capitals thoroughly outshot the Bruins, that type of figure is to be expected.

Despite that, Tinordi was not on the ice for a goal.

Depending on how long Miller is out, we might be seeing more of Tinordi. He played well enough in Game 5, as well as the regular-season finale, and should be a decent enough stopgap. If Jeremy Lauzon or Jakub Zboril end up returning to full health, they should be in the conversation to draw back into the lineup. But if Miller is out for an extended time, the Bruins should feel comfortable enough with Tinordi.

— Reilly lit up the scoresheet Sunday (two assists and a plus-three rating). While that’s not always something he does, he has been such a tremendous pickup.

What sticks out when watching Reilly is his vision and ability to make tape-to-tape passes.

Watch this Patrice Bergeron goal one more time.

Reilly has his back to the play, retrieves the puck and within a second pivots and springs Bergeron on a mini breakaway. Between Reilly, Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk, the Bruins’ top-four is loaded with some truly sound puck-movers.

The Bruins newcomer also seldom makes mistakes with the puck. That type of stability is much welcomed for a team that lost Torey Krug over the offseason.

With each passing game, re-signing Reilly feels like more and more of a “must” for the Bruins.

— Finally — and this is going to require a deeper dive later on and is a nuanced conversation — a talking point over the next few days undoubtedly will be if the Bruins “won” the decision to let Zdeno Chara walk.

The obvious argument against letting him go is that the Bruins made clear they wanted to play their young players. While Chara played well in the series (when Washington actually used him), Lauzon was just OK in Game 1 before getting hurt, Zboril was hurt the whole series and the Bruins went with Tinordi over Urho Vaakanainen in Game 5.

However, the Bruins, despite having their depth tested at times throughout the season, are still playing and Chara isn’t. You can boil it down as simply as that if you’d like. The fact of the matter, though, is that the Bruins didn’t “lose” the decision because they ultimately found a way to make things work.

Boston finished second in the NHL in 5-on-5 expected goals against this season. Lauzon and Zboril received much-needed time playing in the NHL and in the end, losing Chara obviously didn’t sink the Bruins.

Again, there is a far more thorough conversation to be had here, but it’s possible that it worked out for both sides. Chara was able to try something new, even if it didn’t result in a Cup. Boston played the kids and saw what it had, while not getting set back in terms of results.

Thumbnail photo via Amber Searls/USA TODAY Sports Images
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