Missing: the 2017-18 Boston Bruins from the Stanley Cup Playoffs

The Bruins battled for first place in the Eastern Conference, finishing with 112 points, just one behind the Lightning. From Nov. 16 to March 10, they went an incredible 37-8-4 and in that time the city of Boston was convinced “title town” would get another one.

After defeating the Maple Leafs in 7 games, the Bruins faithful realized the Stanley Cup run we expected was more difficult than it seemed.

Patrice Bergeron hugged each one of his teammates as they left the ice after being eliminated in the second round, feeling proud of what this team accomplished, but he knows this team is better than a round two exit.

“It’s very disappointing,” Bergeron said. “The team that we have, the way that we’ve played all year.” … “Everyone was kind of contributing, so obviously we believe that we had a great team. We could have done a lot more. We believed that we had a better team.”

Bergeron and his line-mates: Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak were tremendous in the post season combining for 53 points. As was defenseman Torey Krug, with 12 points.

The rest… not so much.

In this series the Bruins secondary scoring disappeared. Not a single member of the Bruins’ bottom-six got on the score sheet.

Only three forwards outside of the top line even registered a point in the series (David Krejci, Rick Nash, Jake DeBrusk) and only two of them (Krejci, Nash) had more than one point. Danton Heinen, Riley Nash and David Backes were particularly disappointing, all having 40 point seasons.

Their 5 on 5 was also not good, at all.

The Bruins only got six goals at 5-on-5 over the course of the five games in this series. Four of those came in Game 1. The Bruins were completely shut out at 5-on-5 over the final three games of the series.

Tampa also won the physicality battle. They may be smaller on the front end, but they played tough, along with their powerful guys on defense, they beat up the B’s pretty bad. The Bruins have hard-hitters, they’ve played a physical game all year, but the Lightning were definitely the tougher team.

Maybe, that’s because they were afraid they’d get called.

“I’m not one to blame officiating.” Says everyone, ever.

But, here we go.

The officiating was absolutely terrible in this series. Across they playoffs, it hasn’t been great either. But, this was particularly bad. They certainly didn’t lose because of bad officiating. With that being said, it’s hard to dispute against it being part of the story.

Brad Marchand had a chance to tie Game 2 with a late breakaway opportunity, but a blatant slash to his hands happened and… No call.

The same can be said in Game 4 when Nikita Kucherov very obviously tripped Charlie McAvoy in his own end, leading to a change in possession and Steven Stamkos’ game-tying goal, which resulted in a Bruins loss in overtime.

The next easiest scapegoat is the goalie. Poor Tuukka Rask.

“Tuukka Rask will never win a Stanley Cup.”

“Tuukka Rask chokes in the playoffs.”

It’s just simply not true.

The reality is Rask has the second-best save percentage in NHL history, and the 11th best in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Ex-Bruin and now-Florida Panthers vice president of business operations Shawn Thornton voiced his support for Rask.

“I feel bad for Tuukka.” … “I’m biased because he’s a good friend of mine to be completely honest, but I can’t think of a goalie that has been more consistently at the top of the league in the last 8-9 years,” Thornton said. “There’s going to be ups and downs, but if you ask anybody in the league they’re going to say they hate playing against him. He makes the game look easy and when he’s on he’s really on.”

It’s not on Rask.

It’s on the lack of production from every line but the first line that wasn’t near as good as it was all season, the terrible 5 on 5, the lack of playoff experience for some players and officiating, slightly.

On the bright side though, those rookies: DeBrusk, Heinen, Charlie McAvoy and Ryan Donato have incredibly bright futures. DeBrusk and McAvoy at times were the best players in the playoffs. They may not have been ready this year, but soon we’re all going to be saying “get the duck boats ready!”

 

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