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From Seven Heaven Back To Hell: Game 7 Analysis And Report Card

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The Bruins laid an egg in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, losing 4-1 to the St. Louis Blues on home ice. Here’s my grades for a game and performance that will live in infamy in Boston sports.

Brad Marchand/First Line: D

What exactly was Brad Marchand thinking as time wound down in the first period? With about 13 seconds left and the Blues carrying it through the neutral zone, Marchand inexplicably called for a line change and went for the bench. Some of his teammates followed suit like blind sheep and suddenly Jaden Schwartz had the puck breaking into the zone and fed a speeding Alex Pietrangelo for the Blues second goal with eight ticks left in the period.

To his credit though, an absolutely dejected Marchand owned up to his mistake: “I thought that guy was by himself, obviously he wasn’t,” he said after the game.

That was the backbreaker and the game. The Bruins had come out guns a blazing and out-shot the Blues 12-4 in the period and to come out of it down 1-0 would’ve been OK, but 2-0, with the way Jordan Binnington was playing, sealed the deal. The Bruins looked gassed for the rest of the game and Marchand, despite a 100-point season, finished what was not a good Cup Final despite having two goals and three assists. He went pointless in Games 2, 5 and 7 and when you’re a superstar depended on to produce points, that can’t happen when it matters most.

While Marchand’s gaffe cost the Bruins a goal, the entire first line failed to score a goal and register a point. On the grandest stage and in the most important game, the line of Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak was invisible except when they were making mistakes. For example, Pastrnak, who for whatever reason couldn’t and can’t seem to understand that finesse hockey doesn’t really work in the playoffs, was trying to get too cute all night and ended up making four turnovers. Meanwhile, Bergeron – who clearly was playing hurt – still didn’t seem to make the smart decisions he usually makes or get to the net. The best line in the NHL was the worst in the Stanley Cup Final.

Tuukka Rask: C

Of all nights for Tuukka Rask to revert back to the Rask that couldn’t win the big one, this was not a good one. After going on a historical run through the playoffs, Rask allowed two goals on four shots in the first period and that proved to be the difference. The Bruins poured 12 shots on Blues goalie Jordan Binnington in the opening frame but Binnington looked like has so many times off a loss in the playoffs and stoned the B’s.

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After that, the Bruins just couldn’t seem to muster that energy they had for most of the first period. Rask settled down and made 14 more saves but the first period did him and the Bruins in. Rask surely isn’t to blame for the loss but this was not a good performance and he lacked focus early on.

“I had a horrible first period, that’s for sure,” he said after the game.

Unfortunately for him and the Bruns, it came in the biggest game of their lives.

 

Bruce Cassidy: C

It could be argued that Bruce Cassidy deserved to be a Jack Adams candidate as Coach Of The Year. He coached a team that was decimated by injuries for a good portion of the season to the third best record in the NHL. He then helped get them to the Stanley Cup Final. However, that’s when his Midas touch seemed to wear off. Yes, he made a great call taking David Backes out for rookie Karson Kuhlman in Game 6 and Kuhlman rewarded him with a goal. However, too many times in this series and maybe in Game 7 the most, Cassidy didn’t adapt to the game. As always, he tried different line combinations in the game but he never adjusted the forecheck or the way his team moved the puck in the offensive zone.

Obviously, some of this is on the players as they didn’t execute, but unlike Berube who led his team to a win after every loss, and suffocated the Bruins with his gameplan of forechecking and brute physicality, Cassidy couldn’t get his team to recover enough. In Game 7, the Bruins couldn’t recover from not scoring in the first period. The second goal was on Marchand, but there needs to be more communication from Cassidy on the bench there.

“We didn’t get it done. We got outplayed at every position. Coaching staff, whatever you want to say. They ended up being better than us and did what they had to do.”

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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Mark Morse

Why did Cassidy match 4th line vs 4th line and 1st line vs 1st line? He lost the game right there!

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