A Broken Stick and A Lucky Bounce

The Bruins opened up the 2021 NHL playoffs on the road vs. the Washington Capitals. In what has quickly developed into a somewhat nasty rivalry between the two teams; this matchup looks like it’s going to be a rock fight. Tonight it took extra hockey, but the Caps edge the B’s 3-2 in OT behind Nick Dowd’s redirect of a TJ Oshie clapper to take a 1-0 lead in the best of 7 series. 

The Caps came out hitting, and the biggest recipient seemed to be David Krecji. It was almost like he was being targeted? Almost as if Laviolette has a history of bullying or encouraging violence or something. Oh yeah, that’s right, never mind. 

The Caps got on the board first when all world scumbag old friend Tom Wilson beat Tuukka Rask over the glove to go far corner. Charlie McAvoy had his stick shatter at the Caps blue line and Washington came back up ice 3 on 2 with Oshie going right at the twig-less McAvoy. Oshie played it perfectly on the give and go with Wilson and just like that the B’s are down in the first. I will say this, the beauty of Wilson’s goal was that he came down on his off wing side so when he got the puck back from Oshie the whole offensive zone was on his forehand. Gives him much more to shoot at, and makes it that much harder for Rask to defend. Tuukka bounced right back as he made a big glove save on Dowd from in close in the next minute of play after the goal. I do love how Tuukka has a goldfish memory when it comes to goals against sometimes. It’s almost as if he says: Yep, he got me on that one, let’s keep it moving. 

Jake DeBrusk (checks notes, yes that’s correct) tied it up for the good guys when he sniped a wrister from the high slot that beat Vanacek blocker side. That shot was an absolute piss-missile. I’m also going to make this public pronouncement that if this is “Playoff Jake DeBrusk” then I will take back all the negative things I’ve said about him this year. He took the body, he was in on the fore-check and he made a HUGE play on a backcheck in the 2nd period. The Caps broke down on Mike Reilly 3 on 1 and DeBrusk busted ass back to lift John Carlson’s stick and negate the play. If DeBrusk has figured it out and is upping his game in time for the playoffs, then I’m here for it. I mean on his first shift of the game a turnover bounced right to him in the WAS zone and he put it 10 feet over the net and then slid into the end boards, but I digress. I’m here for Playoff Jake DeBrusk. His goal also put Vanacek out of the game with what looked like a groin on his split to make the save. This brought in Craig Anderson (who was actually drafted in 1999) to finish out. 

The 2nd had much less of a frenetic pace than the first 20 minutes. It seemed as if the teams had gotten (most) of it out of their systems and were ready to settle down to play some hockey. Brenden Dillon put the Caps back up again when his shot from the left point bounced up, down and near Alexander Ovechkin (but actually off Jeremy Lauzon’s stick) and over Rask’s shoulder. Of course Ovechkin celebrated as if it was his goal; but remember Alex, it’s a team sport and it’s not all about your chase of The Great One. Rask didn’t see it until it was past him as the congested slot in front completely bumfuzzled him: 2-1 bad guys. A late power play goal by Nick Ritchie tied the game back up but the credit for the goal should go to Craig Smith. Smitty kept the puck alive through sheer determination and grit and thankfully the puck found it’s way to David Pastrnak at the left point and his shot off Anderson’s chest was perfect for Ritchie to stuff through Anderson and trickle over the goal line. The last 10 seconds of the 2nd made for some edge of your seat viewing as Brad Marchand JUST missed wide on the left post before the puck went back down the other way and Lars Eller put it off the crossbar as time expired. Either team could have gone to the intermission up by one, instead they remained knotted. 

Gotta love the young D-corps development. Ovechkin hit Kevan Miller (borderline hit in my and analyst Keith Jones’ opinions) in the back and Jeremy Lauzon took exception and went right at Ovi. Lauzon DGAF that it was Ovechkin as he attempted to chop the Caps’ captain in half. As if Miller needs ANYONE to stick up for him. 

Originally tweeted by Spittin' Chiclets (@spittinchiclets) on May 16, 2021.

In the 3rd period the neutral zone seemed to shrink as neither team could make it through cleanly. It was like playing in one of those 3 on 3 rinks when there’s no room out there for anyone. The Caps got the best bids of the period when Lars Eller had 2 chances down low on the RW but Rask denied him. Rask exploded off his crease and came out to challenge Eller and cut down on the angle. Rask was decisive and square all night and looked like he was completely dialed in. I’m sure the radio waves will be filled with calls for Swayman for game 2 but those fans are idiots. The Bruins were outshot 32-26 but most of the Bruins shots were from outside. They also MISSED THE NET WITH OVER 20 SHOT ATTEMPTS. Not a good look. The Bruins actually looked like themselves in the last 3 minutes of regulation. They were moving the puck in the offensive zone with pace and getting good looks without forcing or hurrying the puck like they were earlier in the game. Confidence was high in the group chat heading into overtime. 

In OT, the Bruins had the early chances to salt this one away, but couldn’t convert. An Oshie clapper sends the boys home with the L, but not before the NHL wanted to drag it out for a few more minutes by holding up everyone to check if the play was onside. Spoiler alert: It was. 

Plus/Minus

Plus:

  • Patrice Bergeron is good at face-offs. He won ALL his face-offs in the first period and only lost 3 on the night, and one of those losses could be blamed on his winger. Legend.
  • I’m loving the Miller/Lauzon tandem against Wilson’s line. Will be interesting to see if Cassidy tries to get that matchup back at home when he has last change.
  • Mark it down. Taylor Hall is going to go off in this series. He was all over the ice, drew 2 penalties and was filthy with the puck. In his 11 NHL seasons with 5 teams he’s played in 680 regular season games and only 14 playoff games (now 15). Think he’s ready to go off?

Minus:

  • Power play has to be a weapon. The Bruins need to adjust to the Caps aggressive forwards on the PK. Playing a chippy physical dirty team, the Bruins have to not get sucked into the nonsense and make it count on the PP. They looked hurried and out of sorts all night.
  • The Bruins need more quality shots from the slot and face-off dots in: the dirty area is where they keep the cookies.
  • Holy shit Krecj, keep your head up!

Game Notes:

I’m not going to lose my head over this one. It was a McAvoy broken stick and a knuckle puck from Dillon that did the Bruins in. Yes they were outshot and outhit, but they got the PP’s (just didn’t convert) and were dominant at the dot. The Bruins can beat these guys, and I don’t know a single person who took the Bruins in 4 (I took them in 6). Keep the faith and watch this, I don’t know, another 30x over the weekend.

See you Monday at 7:30 ya filthy animals.

Originally tweeted by Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) on May 15, 2021.

Author: Brownie

Hockey fan/player from the greater Boston area.

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