Five takeaways from Game 2
Areas for improvement, things to build on for Bruins as series heads to Boston
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The Boston Bruins find themselves in a 2-0 series hole with the Stanley Cup finals headed back to Boston for Games 3 and 4 Monday and Wednesday. After losing Game 1 with less than 20 seconds left in regulation, Boston suffered another crushing loss in Game 2, falling in overtime on an Alex Burrows goal 11 seconds into the extra frame. Here are five things I take away from the loss that might impact the Bruins going forward:
1. Turnovers and puck management did the Bruins in again: Just as they have so many times in losses this season and in the playoffs, including Game 1, turnovers and puck management cost the Bruins dearly in Game 2. Andrew Ference was the main culprit, turning the puck over on the Canucks' first goal in the first period (also scored by Burrows) and on the Burrows overtime goal. But Ference isn't the only one guilty of bad puck management. Throughout the game, with maybe the exception of the first 11:35 of the second period, when they battled back to take a 2-1 lead, the Bruins just weren't careful with the puck.
"When we got the 2-1 lead all we did was start to turn pucks over again instead of being composed," forward Mark Recchi said. "That's just staying with the game plan, staying strong. ... The start of the third they came out -- after the power play -- they had some pressure again and they end up tying it. For the most part we were OK but there were times where we did lose our composure with the puck a little bit and we need to make sure when we go home and we get opportunities like this, we stayed composed and we stay focused."
It was Ference who turned the puck over to Daniel Sedin seconds into overtime and Zdeno Chara who couldn't chase down Burrows and Tim Thomas who got dragged out of position on the play, but this was a collective failure of puck management.
"Well I guess all of a sudden you lose a game, and we're going to start wondering about certain players," coach Claude Julien said, when asked why he thought Chara was struggling throughout Game 2. "I think it's about our whole team. It's not about Zdeno. Zdeno didn't lose a game for us tonight, our whole team did. I don't think we played very well and to what our standards are all about. I think the decision-making and the puck management is what keeps costing us games.
"I mean when you turn pucks over in the neutral zone, this is a team that thrives on it. And we know that they thrive on it, yet we keep turning pucks over in the neutral zone. So we have to be a little better in those areas. And I thought in the second period we started doing that and got ourselves the lead and then they get themselves back in the game with that tying goal and obviously that last goal was a hard one to swallow."
The Bruins were brutal moving the puck through the neutral zone as well.
"I thought on our breakouts we needed to move the puck a little better," Julien said. "Puck management, D to D passes ... or on the tape. And we bobbled a lot of pucks in our own end tonight and that allowed their forecheck to be efficient. And those are the things I keep talking about. So we're basically burying ourselves because a lot of those things are happening for those two reasons. It's hurting us right now, puck management and decision-making."
If they don't correct that before Game 3, they might not be heading back to Vancouver.
2. Moving on is imperative: Throughout the playoffs, the Bruins' mantra has been to move on from wins and losses alike. Now more than ever, that approach is critical after back-to-back heartbreakers to start the series. The Bruins have proven they can come back from a 2-0 deficit before, having done so against Montreal in the first round of the playoffs. But the Canucks aren't the Canadiens, they're the Presidents' Trophy winners and a team that is now two wins away from its first Stanley Cup in franchise history. The Bruins said they were putting this latest loss behind them once they got on the plane home to Boston, but we'll see.
"We were going on the road in that series and now we're going home to our building," Recchi pointed out, referring to the Montreal series. "[Boston] is electric right now like Vancouver is. It's going to be an unbelievable atmosphere and we gotta use that to our advantage on Monday and focus on Game 3. We need to take the positives out of here. We pushed them hard for two games here and now we gotta go home and do a job. If we go and do our job then we'll be back here."
Julien said he believes the Bruins can move on from these first two games.
"I don't think there is any reason here to not be positive," Julien said. "You don't get this far guys, and all of a sudden hang our heads. They had home-ice advantage and won their first two home games. We have to go back home and do the same. One game at a time as you hear always. We win that first game, you build some momentum and you get yourselves back in this series. It's not the end of the world here guys. We lost a game, but we're a better team than that. And we're a team that has bounced back all through the season."
3. Power play and Recchi silenced critics: Two of the positives for the Bruins in the Game 2 loss were the power play lighting the lamp for the first time since Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals and Recchi -- who many pundits suggested shouldn't be on the power play anymore -- scoring the power-play goal, his first tally since Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Flyers.
"I go back to last game here, we had six power plays and I thought we generated some good opportunities," Julien said. "We didn't score [in Game 1], [in Game 2] we get rewarded. So, I guess that makes it successful, obviously, when you score. And I thought our guys again [in Game 2] did a good job at moving the puck around and getting some opportunities. We had good traffic in front, whether it was Zdeno, and the other time it was [Milan Lucic], and then [Recchi] timed it really well there for that goal going in and tipping it in."
The Bruins have reiterated recently that the power play was getting better, and in Game 2 they finally saw results.
4. The net-front presence was there in Game 2: Lucic's goal and the Recchi power-play goal were results of the Bruins having guys in front of the net and in the dirty areas in which most playoff goals are scored. The Bruins did a much better job of creating traffic in front of Roberto Luongo and making it count in Game 2.
"It was better today than Game 1 and we're going to have to keep that up if we want to score some more goals," Lucic said.
Lucic is correct, and he and linemate Nathan Horton need to lead the way there.
5. Time to sit Seguin and play Thornton: While Tyler Seguin presents more offensive potential with his skill set, the rookie isn't getting much ice time, and when he has played he hasn't produced. Seguin now has gone seven games without a point since his breakout four-point performance in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals. If Julien isn't going to give him more ice time, it is time to bring in what the Bruins have seemed to lack for a good portion of the first two games of this series: grit and emotion.
That comes in the form of Shawn Thornton. What Manny Malhotra did for the Canucks in Game 2, Thornton could do for the Bruins if he is inserted back into the lineup. Time for the "Quiet Man" to come back and make some noise.
James Murphy covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com.
CUP IS OURS: BRUINS BEAT CANUCKS
GAME 7: BRUINS 4, CANUCKS 0
GAME 6: BRUINS 5, CANUCKS 2
GAME 5: CANUCKS 1, BRUINS 0
GAME 4: BRUINS 4, CANUCKS 0
GAME 3: BRUINS 8, CANUCKS 1
GAME 2: CANUCKS 3, BRUINS 2 (OT)
GAME 1: CANUCKS 1, BRUINS 0
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