The Boston Bruins were able to tie the series against their rival after yet another strong third period effort. The Bruins’ resiliency kept this from being an easy 2-0 series lead for Montreal, but it will only get tougher for the Bruins when the series moves up to Canada.
One clear weakness for the Bruins to this point has been the penalty kill. P.K. Subban scored twice in game one on the man advantage and had his shot deflected twice by teammate Thomas Vanek in game two for two more powerplay goals. The way the referees have been calling this series will make it hard to stay out of the penalty box and if the past is any indication, they will be in the penalty box their fair share in Montreal. In the 2011 playoff matchup between these two teams, the Bruins went 0-21 on the powerplay and 21-27 on the penalty kill. In the three games in Montreal, the Bruins were 0-9 on the powerplay and 11-14 on the penalty kill. This series, the Bruins are 0-5 on the powerplay, which includes an extended two man advantage, and an ugly 5-9 on the penalty kill. One can only hope these opportunities even out because not all of these penalties have been “must calls”. We shall see whether or not the refs appease the crowd in the Bell Centre this Tuesday.
Regardless of the number of penalties the Bruins receive, one key to improving their penalty kill is to shut down Subban on the point. If they put extra pressure on him up top, it decreases the chance of him getting his shot off, while also disrupting the Habs’ puck movement. Subban will be out there the entire two minutes each powerplay and it is crucial to stop him if they want to keep Montreal off the board.
Another adjustment the Bruins should make is to trust their shot. There have been several great opportunities that have gone by the board because players are being far too patient waiting for the perfect shot or pass. Loui Eriksson, Tory Krug, and David Krejci have all waited a bit too long on chances despite having the ability to pick corners with their shot. As we saw in the third period Saturday, you just need to put pucks on net and sometimes you’ll get lucky. Price has been good this series, but I think the Bruins will benefit from taking a quick shot once in a while.
Although they weren’t known for their second period success in the regular season, the Bruins can’t have the mid-game lulls they have shown so far this series if they expect to win. They have been outscored 3-0 in the second period in the first two games, which is part of the reason they have had to come back in both contests. It will be harder to gain momentum away from home, so the Bruins need to put in a 60 minute effort these next two games. Game 3 is Tuesday at 7:00 on NBC Sports Network.