BOSTON – It would be easy to say the Boston Bruins’ triple overtime loss in Game 1 was the result of a few bad bounces. That was evident enough after a Jaromir Jagr deflection beat Corey Crawford in double overtime just to clank off the post and bounce back away from the net. From Johnny Oduya’s shot redirecting off the skate an unsuspecting Andrew Ference to tie the game at 3-3 to the eventual game winner that bounced off Andrew Shaw’s knee, it was clear that Boston may have had some bad puck luck last night.
But blaming those bad bounces for this loss would ignore the bigger issue for the Bruins. It was glaring when Kaspers Daugavins passed up a shot at an open net to cut across the top of the crease to his backhand, only to have it knocked away by Oduya. Daugavins misguided attempt to beat Crawford caused Bruins fans watching from all over to simultaneously shout out the F word: Finish.
And in Game 1, the Bruins didn’t. After building a 3-1 lead, the Bruins sat back in their own zone, going away from the bruising two-man forecheck that had given them that lead in the first place. The Bruins were outshot 15-8 in the final period of regulation, a period in which they generally looked like a team that was trying to desperately bleed the clock dry rather than go in for a game-clinching goal. It’s not a good look for a team that plays best when they dictate the pace and control the puck for long stretches in the offensive zone.
Daugavins wasn’t the only Bruins player to lack that finish around the net. The Bruins had the better scoring opportunities in the overtimes, ranging from a five-hole attempt by Shawn Thornton to a near-breakaway by Tyler Seguin. The Bruins had the only two powerplay opportunities of the overtime periods, and while they came pretty close, they weren’t able to get a single shot past Crawford. The opportunities were there. The Bruins just didn’t capitalize.
Make no mistake, the Bruins didn’t give this game away; the Blackhawks took it. The Bruins may have left the door open for Chicago, but the Blackhawks stepped up and walked through it. Led by Shaw and the fourth line, the Blackhawks upped the pressure almost immediately after Patrice Bergeron scored on the powerplay, and it paid dividends. With the Bruins on their heels, Chicago scored two goals in just 4:14. Were the Blackhawks the recipients of some fortunate bounces of the puck? Absolutely, but that’s just how it seems to go when one team is on the attack.
Game 1 was a game of missed opportunities for the Bruins. With a two-goal lead in the third period, the Bruins should have been able to close out the game. Those leads have typically held up for the Bruins so far in these playoffs, but Chicago isn’t the Toronto Maple Leafs, the New York Rangers, or the Pittsburgh Penguins. Last night, the Bruins learned that in order to beat the Blackhawks, they need to play a complete 60 minutes (and sometimes more) of playoff hockey.
This series is far from over, but this loss has to sting. The Bruins had more than enough opportunities to win this game. Instead, they’re down 1-0 in the series and can only wait for Game 2 Saturday to get another shot at Chicago. The Bruins will need to play their game, keep up their forecheck, and most importantly, they’ll need to finish.