Thats a tough loss for the Bruins. The story of the game was missed chances. The Bruins had so many opportunities and just couldn't cash in. I was losing my mind watching guys miss the open net. Once again the Bruins did not put enough pucks on net. They registered only 22 shots on goal, with 12 coming in the first period. They got off to a great start, creating chances and getting pucks to the net. But they petered out in the final 2 periods.
-The Bruins only goal came on a redirection by Noel Acciari but it was called back on an offsides review. The Bruins now have had the most goals taken away by that review in the league. It is maybe the worst rule in sports. The NHL has already voted to keep it in place for next season, which makes me want to rip my hair out. Even when the review works in your team's favor it feels cheap. For a league that is desperate for scoring, it's baffling the NHL has this rule. A fraction of an inch difference has no bearing on a goal, especially when the goal comes 20 seconds after the zone entry.
-The difference in this series has been Eric Karlsson, he's been the best player on the ice in all 3 Ottawa victories. The Sens have had only a handful of goals this playoffs that he hasn't had a hand in. Every time he touches the puck I get a knot in my stomach. The Senators lone goal came on a beautiful tape-to-tape slap pass from Karlsson. I find myself laying awake at night wishing it could've been him that spilled a drink on Aaron Hernandez. He has absolutely picked the Bruins apart in this series.
-Karlsson has been Ottawa's best player, but the Bruins' best players haven't been their best in this series. Brad Marchand scored the game winning goal in game 1 but that is his only point in the series. Before last night he had just 5 shots on goal. Last night Marchand was better, he registered a team leading 6 shots on goal but still couldn't cash in. The Bruins need more out of Marchand. Pastrnak has been completely unable to hit the net. He scored a game-tying power play goal in game 3. However, he currently has just 2 shots on goal this series, with 19 shots that have been blocked or missed the net. He didn't put a single shot on the cage last night. Marchand and Pastrnak were Boston's leading scorers this season and they have a combined 2 points in 4 games so far. Have to be better.
-Injuries continue to play a huge part in this series. Both teams are banged up but all the Bruins' injuries have come on the defensive side. It's a tough task to beat any team when 4 of your top 6 defenseman are out. Charlie McAvoy has stepped up huge for the Bruins. Two weeks ago this kid was sitting in English 101 at BU and now he's playing 25+ minutes a night in the NHL playoffs. What he's doing almost defies logic. He's been the one bright spot for the Bruins in this series, and he's lived up to all the hype around him. The Bruins got Colin Miller back last night, and the defense looked better. Ottawa's only goal came against Chara and McAvoy. To be fair the goal also came against the Spooner line, which is by far Boston's worst defensive line.
-Tuukka Rask was nails last night. He gave up 1 goal and made 26 saves on some really strong chances. He stoned Karlsson on a great chance early in the 1st, and made big saves the whole night. To the people who are saying that Rask never steals the Bruins big games, he stole you one last night. The offense lost that one for Tuukka. If your goalie is going to give you 1 goal allowed in 60 minutes in the playoffs you cannot lose that game, you just can't. Theres no excuses, the Bruins couldn't get it done on a night that Rask was playing his balls off. Rask has been really good 3 out of 4 games this series. Even though he gave up 4 goals in regulation in game 3, all but 1 of them was because of defensive lapses.
- Rask's one bad game came in game 2, and thats the game that changed the whole series. The Senators have not trailed in a game since they made a third period comeback and tied that game at 3-3. When Rask let up that 2nd goal on a tumbling puck it swung all the momentum in the series. The Senators went on to win that game in overtime and have not forfeited a lead since.
-Even if the Sens do close out the series, it's hard to not look at the Bruins season as a success. The two goals I laid out at the beginning of the season were to make the playoffs, and identify a young core of players. Check and check. The Bruins are in the playoffs and Pastrnak, Carlo, and Collin Miller have all had breakout seasons. In addition, Charlie McAvoy has come on the scene in the playoffs and blown everyone away with his level of play. In addition, the Bruins have a loaded farm system with guys like JFK, Jakub Zboril, Anders Bjork, and Ryan Donato. Regardless of what happens in game 5 this season has been a success in my book.
-The Bruins are down but they're not out. The series isn't over yet, thats not me being a homer, thats just a fact. It's not over yet. You gotta win 4 games to win a series in hockey and by my count the Sens have only won 3. Winning number 4 is the hardest win to get in sports. For the Bruins right now it seems daunting to have to win 3 in a row against a team you are 1-10-1 against in the last 12 games. But right now it's not about winning 3 games, it's about winning 1. Game 5 in a 3-1 series can be the biggest momentum swing in sports. We saw it with the Cavs and Warriors, and with the Cubs and Indians. It looks like the series is over, you're just 1 win away, and now suddenly the Senators have to go back to Boston and play game 6. The pressure starts to mount and it gets harder and harder to win. Do I love the Bruins' chances? No, I don't even like them. But don't think about winning 3 games, think about winning 1. Win game 5 and we'll cross the other bridges when we get to them. At the very least I get to use on of my favorite quotes in sports, coined by the great Kevin Millar. "Don't let the Bruins win tonight". We're on to game 5.