It’s win or go home for the Bruins after a Game 5 loss.
The Carolina Hurricanes earned a 5-1 win over Boston on Tuesday night at PNC Arena after dominating play for 60 minutes.
Here are four takeaways from Tuesday’s loss:
Lack of secondary scoring haunts the Bruins
This long has been an issue for Boston, especially in the playoffs, the last few seasons. Things seemed to be trending in the right direction with the emergence of Craig Smith, Charlie Coyle and Trent Frederic as a line, but Frederic found himself getting into penalty trouble, and the bottom six has gone quiet.
Head coach Bruce Cassidy has shuffled the lines throughout the first series, including putting David Pastrnak back with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron. They were quiet in Game 6, but that would be the time for the bottom six to come up clutch.
“I don’t know if up and down the lineup — we’re going to need a little bit more, whether it’s working hard to keep the puck out of the net, which we did up in Boston, a lot better blocking shots, finishing checks so guys can’t join the rush, sorting out coverages quick,” Cassidy told reporters after the gam, per team-provided video. “So, the first goal shouldn’t happen if we’re on our toes defensively too. So that concerns me. We need to get some guys going. But it’s also the time of the year where they that inner drive comes through and that’s what we’re looking at.”
5-on-5 play needs to be better
Maybe this goes along with the secondary scoring, but if the Bruins want to force a Game 7, they need to have more players step up at full strength. After showing signs of reliability in the regular season, neither Smith nor Jake DeBrusk have an even-strength point yet.
To put it into perspective, check out this stat from WEEI’s Scott McLaughlin:
Simply put: the Bruins need more from the other three lines, and fast.
The Hurricanes also had more scoring chances, more high-danger chances and goals than the Bruins did Tuesday night at even strength. While the power play has been better, Boston cannot rely on one aspect of its team if it wants to extend this series.
Slow start put Bruins a hole early
It’s been preached that Boston can’t afford to play from behind in this series. Even with wins in Games 3 and 4, the Bruins have fallen behind in each contest.
Carolina jumped on Boston early and often in Game 5 and ran away with it while the Bruins struggled to keep up with their opponent. Jeremy Swayman played fine, but he probably wanted the first goal from Jacob Slavin back. Still, the defense and offense needed to do more for their rookie goalie.
“There was a stretch there we weren’t very good in front of him — mismanaged some pucks,” Cassidy told reporters. “He made some timely saves to give us a chance to stay in it. So, I’m certainly not putting this on Jeremy. We need to finish a little better. When we get our opportunities early. That’s still an issue for us.”
The response after the Hurricanes’ first goal just never really came for Boston and Carolina capitalized on that.
It’s do or die for Boston
The B’s now have their backs against the wall as they return to TD Garden on Thursday night for Game 6. The good news for the home team, though? The TD Garden has been good for the Black and Gold in the playoffs. Cassidy is hopeful that trend continues, but the Bruins will need to come out firing on all cylinders if they want to avoid elimination in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.