NHL Playoff Game Day: 4-28-18 Bruins at Lightning

Bruins top line humbles Lightning in Game One defeat.

Eastern Conference Semifinals


Boston Leads the Series 1-0

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed 5 goals on 23 shots for the loss. None of those goals were soft, necessarily, but at the end of the day Rask made a ton of big situational saves and Vasilevskiy didn't. He needs to rise to the occasion in this moment.

First Period
17:11 BOS Nash (2), (Pastrnak, Bergeron)(PP)

Second Period
0:42 BOS Bergeron (2), (Pastrnak, Marchand)
2:31 TB Girardi (1), (Paquette, Hedman)
12:33 BOS Nash (3), (Krejci, Pastrnak)
13:22 TB Sergachev (2), (Point, Gourde)(PP)

Third Period
3:32 BOS Marchand (4), (McAvoy)
10:11 BOS Bergeron, (Marchand, Pastrnak)
13:41 BOS DeBrusk (6), (Marchand, McAvoy)(EN)

Well that was certainly frustrating. The Lightning actually had a very good first 20 minutes and could've easily built themselves a lead were it not for some excellent situational saves by Rask, only to see a penalty and a faceoff loss turn into a greasy goal by Boston to stake them to the 1-0 lead at the opening intermission. The Lightning then promptly failed to show up for the opening shift of the Second Period and quickly found themselves down 2-0 before starting to find their legs in the middle frame. They got the score to 3-2 after 40 minutes and had actually carried the bulk of the play at 5v5 up until that point and then they just completely laid an egg against Boston's top line in the Third Period and ended up getting blown out.

Bottom line up front: I think the Lightning are the deeper of the two teams. I think the first and third lines, in particular, had pretty good games today even though they really failed to find the scoresheet largely due to Rask's heroics. None of that matters, though, if the Bruins' top line is allowed to run wild to the tune of 3 goals and 11 points, collectively. The Lightning's second line of Palat/Point/Johnson drew that matchup in this game and they absolutely got eaten alive, whether it was Point losing key draws to Bergeron or Johnson losing his mark in and around the circles in the defensve zone or atop the blue paint. Of the three guys on that line, I think Palat's the only one who had any bright moments in this game and Johnson, in particular, got absolutely abused by Marchand and later Bergeron. So, I think Jon Cooper's got a lot of soul searching to do in order to find some better matchups. And, honestly, that could mean moving Gourde onto that line (who played really well) in Johnson's place or it could mean moving Kucherov onto that line and giving him the challenge of trying to best Boston's best. It's a problem that will require an innovative solution that isn't entirely clear to me at this juncture.

Boston's accomplished everything they came to Tampa to achieve by taking home ice in Game One. Game Two is an opportunity for them to try to shorten this series while the Lightning will just be trying to stay, realistically, alive. Back against the wall time already. All hands on deck.

One other thing I want to say after this game is that I think it's a joke the way the NHL coddles the Boston Bruins. Rask has a hissy fit and does something incredibly dangerous throwing a skate blade on a call that the referees properly made and they do nothing. Guys are cross checking guys in the kidneys and slashing guys after the whistle and the Bruins have the gall to stay out during Second Intermission to talk to the refs as if they were aggrieved. Why do they feel so entitled? Maybe because the league treats the Bruins like an overly permissive parent treats a spoiled brat grandchild. "Oh, excuse me little Brad. If it wouldn't be too much trouble could you, um, well, try not to lick another person without their permission. Please?" When you limply rebuke things like that and turn a blind eye to the kind of crap Rask pulled today it contributes to the appearance of lawlessness in the league, at least where the Bruins and a handful of the league's other "chosen grandchildren" teams are involved. And, frankly, it's not a good look.

Anthony Cirelli had 1 shot and 2 hits in 13:37 and was 54% on 13 draws. I thought that third line with Gourde and Killorn on his wings was pretty dynamite and I'm a little surprised they didn't pop one in. I'm a little concerned that Cirelli appeared to have some heavy legs in this game at times, but all in all he was a positive for the Lightning in an otherwise dim afternoon.

Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.