BRIGHTON, MA – The Boston Bruins clearly need a little something extra if they’re going to beat the Carolina Hurricanes in two straight games now down 3-2 in the best-of-seven series with Game 6 at TD Garden on Thursday night.
Some of that is going to be offense and elevated play from some of the Boston Bruins players that haven’t been good enough to this point through the first five games of this playoff series. Taylor Hall and Jake DeBrusk are a combined minus-13 in the playoffs thus far, and Erik Haula has just two assists and a minus-5 in the five games centering the second line.
There hasn’t been any offense from the fourth line as of yet, and Craig Smith has zero points in five games while elevating to second line right wing since the Boston Bruins reformed the Perfection Line at the end of Game 2. Instead, it’s been the same old story for the Boston Bruins since reuniting the Perfection Line where it’s boom-or-bust with the top three forwards, and pretty much nothing else from the rest of the group when it comes to secondary scoring.
“We need to get some guys going and it’s on me to find ways to get them going,” said Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “It’s also the time of the year where the inner drive needs to come through and that’s what we’re looking at.
“At the end of the day you need the guys behind [the Perfection Line] following it up and that’s what we’re looking at. The sort of middle of the order, whatever you want to call it, that they can bring more offensively, and if not then they need to be tighter defensively. Get the job done at the other end. Some nights it’s the top guys, special teams and goaltending, and that was the story in Boston. Obviously, the guys that are used to scoring want to contribute in that way, but help us win then if the puck isn’t following you. This isn’t the middle of the year and sort of ‘oh, we’ll get through it.’ This is a short series and maybe things will happen [offensively for them] in the next series, so that’s what being asked of the middle of the lineup right now.”
Haula, Hall and Smith combined for just four shots on net in the Game 5 loss in Carolina, and Charlie Coyle, Tomas Nosek and Jake DeBrusk had just two shots on net with pretty much zero presence against the Hurricanes.
For a guy like Hall, it’s obviously been tough without Pastrnak on his right side after he was bumped back up to the Perfection Line.
“For the other three lines on our team right now it’s about letting [the Perfection Line] do their thing and then when we get out there…can we contribute? Can we add to that and be a line that makes a difference other than them?” said Hall. “Whether I’m playing with Smith or Pasta, I still have to attack and make plays, and use my feet and my speed when I need to no matter who I’m playing with. If I’m doing that then it’s going to be a good night for me and whatever line that I’m playing on.
“They’re a tough team defensively. They’re probably the best defensive team in the league. They have three really good pairs that are hard to play against. Four our line it’s about cracking that code.”
🎥 Taylor Hall on adjusting to playing without David Pastrnak: “Their line’s rolling. The other three lines on our team right now, it’s about letting them do their thing and when we get out there…can we be a line that makes a difference. That’s our focus tonight.” pic.twitter.com/mX09bxtdzA
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) May 10, 2022
They all need to be much better versions of themselves starting on Thursday night and continuing through this weekend’s theoretical Game 7 showdown if the Boston Bruins are going to survive and advance. It means the Boston Bruins supporting players coming through as they’ve done for the Black and Gold since Bruce Cassidy balanced out the lines at the beginning of January, or the offseason could come as soon as tonight for a B’s team that had higher hopes than that for this season.