The Tampa Bay Lightning have out-scored the Boston Bruins 10-2 in the last two games of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The Bruins are facing elimination with a 3-1 series deficit and their offense has gone dormant at the worst possible time. If the Bruins offense doesn’t put a few pucks in the net, they’ll be home this week and hopes of avenging that Game 7 Stanley Cup Final loss will end, too.
Not all is lost, however. Head coach Bruce Cassidy saw some signs of life in his Boston Bruins offense during their 3-1 loss in Game 4.
Cassidy is hoping the Bruins can build off that.
“I felt our offense in terms of creating was much better,” said Cassidy. “I thought we deserved a better fate in terms of what we created. If you’re going to be off-net you’re not going to score, and that was our problem (Saturday), with some good looks we were off-net. Obviously, (Andre) Vasilevskiy made some saves, he always does, solid goaltender, so I thought our creation of offense, getting through the neutral zone, getting towards the good ice, all of that was there, just the finish wasn’t.”
More Pucks On Net?
A common phrase used when the offense struggles to generate consistent pressure on the opposition is “pucks on net.” But, the common misconception is that more shots on goal equal more opportunities to score a goal. Sometimes, it is not about how many shots find their way to the net, but rather the quality of the shot being taken. The Bruins unloaded 30 shots on Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy in Game 4 but how many were or created actual scoring opportunities?
“I don’t think we had our legs in game three,” said Cassidy. “This one I thought we did, we had our energy level and we were competing hard, winning our share of races, winning pucks. To score goals we have to hit the net more often, force [Vasilevskiy] to make saves, control rebounds. We’re just off-net with too many good chances today…So it put us in a bigger hole and we started working our way out of it, but if you’re going to put yourself in a hole you got to score goals to win games and we weren’t able to do that.”
Boston Bruins Need Better Puck Management
Now on the brink of elimination, the message for Game 5 is clear. Cassidy wants to see smarter puck management from the Bruins.
“We didn’t manage the puck again. It usually starts there,” said Cassidy. “You turn pucks over against Tampa, it starts there. You have to be more assertive with your feet before you move a puck, take some ice. That one came back at us. After that, I thought we were better at that to be quite honest. We’ll always talk about the things we do well and correct the things we don’t.
So some puck luck is not going our way, but having said that, they are a shot mentality team, and if we had that mentality too maybe we’d get some of these breaks where pucks go in off people, so that will be a bit of the message as well. Again, too much off-net, not enough forcing them to block shots and make saves and see where the rebounds end up.”
The Lightning is one win away from advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals. Meanwhile, the Bruins will look to keep their season alive Monday night.