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Haggs: Boston Bruins Lost To Better Team, Plain And Simple

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The Boston Bruins certainly had their moments in the first round series against the Carolina Hurricanes, but in the end, they simply lost to a better hockey team in the seven-game series.

As was the case in each of the four games played in Carolina, the Boston Bruins lost the trench battles in front of both nets and simply didn’t have enough offensive thrust in a 3-2 loss to the Canes in Game 7 at PNC Arena.

When it was said and done, it wasn’t about the officiating or the goaltenders, or even about the special teams play that can sometimes win or lose a series. It was Boston’s inability to win a game on Carolina’s turf and the overall tough time they had scoring against Carolina’s stiff, unyielding defense that ultimately forced them into the offseason.

“It’s always hard to say it when you come up short, but there’s something to be proud of that we battled,” said Patrice Bergeron. “We started off slow this year and the series was kind of the same. We battled back and played the type of hockey we need to advance, but tonight we came up short and needed a little more.

“Obviously the road games hurt us in the long run. It was close. It’s a very good team we battled against, and we knew it was going to be a close series and a tough series. We needed to get one on the road and we couldn’t do that. Kudos to them, they played a great game and a great series and they’re advancing.”

It led the Hurricanes to outscore the Boston Bruins 18-6 over the course of the four games in Carolina and it made the B’s look like they surprisingly lacked a lot of push when it mattered in Game 7. Until David Pastrnak scored in the final minute to make things interesting, Saturday afternoon’s playoff game had the same kind of lack of offensive oomph as just about every other Bruins game against Carolina this season.

“They’ve got the top defensive team numbers-wise and we had the fourth [during the regular season], so it wasn’t going to be easy for either team” said Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “That’s what happened in the series: Two good defensive teams that were committed to it.”

At this point, the Bruins have last seven of the 10 games played against Carolina this year and been outscored 21-6 at PNC Arena this season, a development that is not a coincidence or some kind of misleading result. Instead, it’s one team that’s demonstrably better than the other and it was borne out over an intense, physical and ultimately true-to-form postseason series. The Hurricanes were better where it mattered in front of both nets and that’s how you win in playoff hockey.

“We were down in the second period of Game 2 here, I think it was 4-1, and there was some messaging there: ‘This is a good group that’s gotten better as the season wore on and we need to start building our game soon.” Said Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “Even though we didn’t win that game, that was the beginning of us getting back into the series, getting home and playing better.

“Tonight, was going to be the end of that building and then on to the next round. That was our goal. I think everybody wanted to and that’s why they were disappointed. You have to execute, and we didn’t execute D-zone coverage well enough and that ends up being the difference in the game. Both teams want to win and both teams lay it out there. For the most time you’re trying to finish your check and block a shot. It wasn’t a lack of effort. We did execute what we needed to do to score some goals and we didn’t execute D-zone coverage. It’s disappointing because it’s something we drill every day, so going out that way [was difficult]. Another year older, different guys in the room will have different feelings about it.”

At least the Boston Bruins top line did manage to scratch out a goal while matched up head-to-head with the Jordan Staal line again in Game 7, something that wasn’t happening regularly in Carolina over the playoff series. But they couldn’t truly dominate the game flow like they did in Boston getting away from Staal’s shutdown group, and that’s a massive problem when you don’t have the home ice advantage need for last change in a series.

There’s also the issue with offensive balance as Craig Smith (zero points) never really showed up in the series, and Charlie Coyle, Jake DeBrusk and Taylor Hall combined to be a minus-18 in the seven-game series. Once again Boston’s top guys were left with too much of the heavy lifting and couldn’t do it by themselves in Carolina.

Instead, the Boston Bruins were left to lament the handful of chances they couldn’t finish out in the early portions of the games in Carolina, and now play the waiting game to see what Patrice Bergeron is going to do for next season.

“Every year you go into the playoffs, and you hope you go on a long, deep run and that you get to fight for the Cup. We knew it was going to be a tough battle. They’ve been great all year long, very well-coached and disciplined in their system and they have a lot of depth,” said Brad Marchand. “We were hoping to beat them, but it always hurts, and it always will.

“We want him to come back, but whatever happens he’s earned the right to make the decision he wants and take whatever time that he needs. That’s why this one probably hurts more, the unknown for next year with him. He’s done so much for this group, and he’s sacrificed so much for this group, so this is disappointing.”

It would be more disappointing, quite honestly, if the Boston Bruins fumbled away an opportunity that was in their hands or didn’t live up to their potential. In this case the B’s lost to a Carolina Hurricanes team where it’s probably their turn to make a run with their core group and could very easily roll all the way to the Stanley Cup Final if they get the right bounces.

For the Boston Bruins, it’s about wondering what needs to be done to elevate this team’s ceiling after they could do no better than wild card playoff entry and first round playoff exit when it was all said and done.

 

 

Joe Haggerty has covered the Boston Bruins and the NHL for 18 years with NBC Sports Boston, WEEI.com, the Boston Metro and the Woburn Daily Times, and currently serves as lead Bruins reporter and columnist for Boston Hockey Now. Haggs always strives to capture the spirt of the thing any way that he can.

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William Mahoney

The Bruins did lose to a better team but that is not their fault. Management is at fault. They played over expectations! They will now lose Bergeron and maybe even Marchand which will be the death of them without scorers like a Jack Eichel. This season my favorite TV Bruin was Sofia!!!

Fred

After the Bruins lost to the Blues in 2019, Sweeney and Neely said they lost to a team that was bigger, stronger and faster. They have done nothing to change that. Adding Taylor Hall and Hampus Lindholm was an improvement but it was not enough. They did upgrade the bottom 6 forward group but never addressed the lack of size on defense or on the top 6 forward group. Reilly was a disappointment, Grzelcyk is too small, Forbort played well but there were too many goals where the defense failed to clear the front of the net and allow Swayman… Read more »

Rick W Murray

If Sweeney and Lurch are still with this club next season I won’t be watching. They knew what had to be done and they didn’t do it. the 2015 draft should have been enough to get rid of these clowns. The hammer is down, Rebuild and do it without those two useless burbs in the front office.

Turk

Neely and Sweeney need to go. Using Harry Sinden for a mentor, they have built a culture where losing is acceptable. Time for Jacobs to bring in some proven winners from outside the organization.

Last edited 2 days ago by Turk
Kevin L

Dude!! Opting to support Jacobs is a ridiculous notion. He’s too busy counting his financial plus-and-minus columns to bother with team building. Not that he knows anything about running a pro hockey team… or any sports entity.

Clacker47

As I said in the other article, Sweeney should not be allowed to reconstruct this roster. He’s had years to address the secondary scoring issue and did not. Instead he signed a group of pylons from the bargain bins and a goalie who he paid $5 million per season to, that can’t play in the playoffs?? The Bruins have no picks in the first round this year thanks to his dealings and the future with him at the helm is not bright. Time to cut ties. One more thing, Carolina may be the better team, but they didn’t win on… Read more »

Michael Parahus

A very fair assessment. B’s did need more energy in game 7. Jaffe on TV said it over and over. I don’t think it was a great effort on the B’s part in game 7. The question in my mind is was that because Carolina was good enough to prevent the B’s from playing their game? I think so. I also think the Bruins, top to bottom, while improved, were still lacking. That’s on Sweeney, not Cassidy. All these years without number one picks. How do they move forward because we all know what they have now is not near… Read more »

Bill

I’m very curious as to what will happen w Neely and Sweeney. Doesn’t Neely have say on resigning Sweeney? Or does Jacobs have to pull the plug? Quite a few free agent signings (big and small) that were mistakes that they ended up having to buy out or spend draft capital to get out from under. Then the 1st round draft selections minus Charlie have been terrible. And where do they go from here? If I were ownership I would do anything I could to try to get someone from the Tampa organization if they can somehow get permission to… Read more »

KingBruin77

No they didn’t. Very evenly matched for sure…I think it’s very fair to say Carol had a lot more puck luck, and imo the Bruins are a bit better of a team. Neither team won on the road or lost at home, however the analytics show the Bruins carried the play in games 1 and 2. This was always going to be the toughest series to win and they were 1 post away. I think getting thru would propel them on a deep playoff run. Great decision sitting Gryz, he needs to go. Not cassidy’s fault Coyle was puck watching… Read more »

L Train

The difference is clear- Krejci

Kevin L

Several whiners here have either forgotten (or are too new or young to have witnessed) the positive success building aspects of the B’s organization throughout the past few decades. As for blaming Sweeney & Neely — they do not hold the checkbooks! Expenditures are limited by the NHL salary caps… but especially due to the Jacobs Family throwing their money at various sports entities. No focus on the Bruins; just their bank accounts. BTW: I don’t buy it that the Carolina Raindrops were “a better team”. Although the did manage to step it up when it counted. If not for… Read more »

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