The Boston Bruins are certainly happy with the state of their game in pretty much all areas after finishing off the Washington Capital in five games during the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. But one place where they could certainly tighten up is in the penalties department after taking 21 minor penalties over the course of the series in those five playoff games.
This comes after the Bruins led the NHL in minor penalties during the regular season and had a bad habit of handing out power plays to other teams. The good news during the season was that Black and Gold had one of the best penalty kills in the league, and that the Boston Bruins killed 18-of-21 Washington power plays over the course of the series.
But a lack of discipline is going to catch up with the Bruins sooner or later as they journey deeper into the postseason. Certainly there needs to be less of the Brad Marchand penalties taken where he lingered for too long in the scrum trying to bait Washington players, and that’s acknowledged by upper management.
But the Boston Bruins also want Marchand playing right on the brink while bringing intensity and a tough-minded mindset, and so there is a willingness to take some bad with the good things like his Game 2 overtime game-winner.
“I mean, we took 21 minors in the course of the series, that’s far too many. Self-inflicted with, I think we had two too many men penalties we went through a couple of times. You can’t necessarily count those ones as being not disciplined enough in some situations. March [Brad Marchand] early on is getting into the series, and you guys know as well as I do, he’s highly competitive,” said Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney. “He’s going to get pushed and he’s going to push back and occupy space and territory. He got caught a couple of times, [so] we all had communication with him. I think Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] in particular had communications with him to understand the importance that he has, to our hockey club when he’s on the ice, plus when he’s off and in the box. He’s one of our key penalty killers.
“Overall, our staff did a really nice job. They were well prepared for what Washington was going to try to throw at us. It took an awful lot of courage — you saw [Connor] Clifton rolled out his stick one time, laid down. [Brandon] Carlo, significant blocks. All of our players did a really good job of dialing in on what the staff wanted them to do in all three zones of pressure. It takes a lot of courage to stand in front of some of those shots, but also a lot of discipline. We have to exercise a little bit more of that. Being in the box 21 times in five games is too much.”
There’s also the absurdly bad calls that the Boston Bruins endured like the phantom interference call on Marchand in Game 4 that had Bruce Cassidy scratching his head afterward. So it’s not all about a lack of discipline with the B’s.
The Bruins had the fourth-most times shorthanded (178) in the league and led the NHL with 199 minor penalties taken over the course of the 56-game regular season. So, this is something of a pattern for a physical, skilled team that clearly wasn’t afraid to throw their weight around in the East Division, and still needs to find a good balance in the postseason between playing right on the edge and not totally going over it.