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Murph’s Takeaways: Even Steven After Lethargic Performance From Bruins

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The St. Louis Blues came back twice to tie the Boston Bruins and eventually won Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final 3-2 in overtime. With an extra attacker due to a delayed penalty on Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo. Blues defenseman Carl Gunnarson scored 3:51 into the extra frame and sent the series back to St. Louis tied at a game apiece.

The Bruins never found their game: From the opening faceoff, the Bruins seemed to be missing that extra gear they had not only In Game 1 of this series but for the last seven games before that. This was the first loss for the Bruins since falling to the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1 in Game 3 of the second round back on April 30. One of the Bruins trademarks during this playoff run has been their relentless attack and of course their depth.

Yes, the energy line was great again in Game 2 and provided a goal by Joakim Nordstrom. However, the other three lines looked like they were skating in quicksand for most of the game and definitely in overtime. On the backend, the defense seemed to be scrambling early and then had to play shorthanded for the final two periods as Matt Grzelcyk left the game with a likely concussion suffered from shoulder to head hit by Blues forward Oskar Sunqvist.

The depleted defensive corps also affected the forwards as the front liners needed to skate deeper into the defensive zone and compensate for Grzelcyk’s absence. Grzelcyk’s absence also meant the Bruins were without one of their best puck movers; that affects the breakout and offense.

While he acknowledged those issues, Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy still wasn’t letting his team off the hook for what he felt could’ve been a better effort and also credited the Blues for making the necessary adjustments after Game 1.

“What they did was I thought they were on top of us, tighter than they did the first game,” Cassidy said. “They didn’t allow us to get the space. As a result, we didn’t seem to win as many races as we did Game 1 to pucks. Some of that is on us. I don’t think we managed it well enough. I think we got spread out all over the ice. So, give them credit for being tighter than us and getting to pucks first. As a result, spent a lot of time in our end. So, that was self-inflicted. Some of it is how they play. They’ve done it to other teams. So give them credit for playing their game well.”

 

Perfection Line Looks Far From Perfect – So far in this Final, the best line in the NHL this season and for most of the playoffs has been invisible. The Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak trio is a combined minus 7 and only Marchand and Pastrnak have registered points with Marchand scoring an empty-netter in Game 1 and Pastrnak assisting on Charlie Coyle’s power-play goal in Game 2.

“We need to be better,” Marchand said matter of factly. “Personally, I wasn’t good the last two games so we can’t be playing like that.”

In Game 1, Pastrnak made a blind pass from behind the net out in front that the Blues snagged and Vladimir Tarasenko then sniped one by Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask. In Game 2, it was Marchand who seemed to be in a giving mood as the pesky and skilled winger had four giveaways.

“I think that we can control the mistakes that are being made,” Marchand said. “Taking care of little details. I think that’s the biggest thing. It will come. That’s how it is.”

Nordstrom Deserves More Recognition – Following Game 1 when the media was focused on Sean Kuraly after he scored the game-winning goal and on Torey Krug for his thunderous hit on Blues forward Robert Thomas in the third period for the Bruins’ 4-2 win, Krug made a point to remind the reporter in the scrum around him how important a player Nordstrom is.

“It’s not just Kurals, it’s the whole line and let’s not forget Joakim Nordstrom guys,” Krug said. “He does so much that goes unnoticed by a lot of people but not by us. Little chip in’s, hustles, smart with the puck and good instinct. He’s a key part of that line too.”

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Well, maybe Krug should pump Nordstrom’s tires more often. The Bruins winger scored a goal and finished the game with an astonishing five blocked shots. One of those came on a Blues four-minute powerplay late in the second period and not only was it a potentially goal-saving play, but it also woke up what had become a rather quiet crowd at TD Garden who then cheered for the rest of the kill.

NHL Misses Opportunity To Send Message On Headshots Again – When Sunqvist came in high on Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk and nailed the B’s d-man with a shoulder to head hit the league had a glorious chance to prove they do want to protect their players from headshots. Somehow though, Sundqvist only got a minor for boarding, while Grzelcyk would have to be helped off the ice and never returned to the game. With the game on it’s grandest stage and the league entangled in multiple lawsuits revolving around concussions and CTE, the NHL should’ve immediately ordered the referees to give Sundqvist a five-minute major and eject him. The Blues forward clearly saw the numbers and could’ve let up but instead followed through to the head of a player in a vulnerable position. Grzelcyk was at the hospital for further tests after the game. Will the NHL make up for their mistake in Game 2 and suspend Sundqvist on Thursday?

With 20 years of experience (SiriusXM NHL Network Radio, ESPNBoston, NESN, NHL.com, etc.) covering the Bruins, the NHL, NCAA and junior hockey and more, Jimmy Murphy’s hockey black book is full of Hall of Famers, current players, coaches, management, scouts and a wide array of hockey media personalities that have lived in and around this great game. For 17 of his 20 years as a hockey and sports reporter, Murph covered the Bruins on essentially a daily basis covering their victorious 2011 Stanley Cup run and their 2013 run to the Final as well. Murphy has hosted national and local radio shows and podcasts and also has experience in TV as well.

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