For the Boston Bruins, Wednesday night’s game four overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks can only be viewed as a prime opportunity lost. The Hawks outlasted the Bruins 6-5 in a game in which they never actually trailed. The B’s managed to even the score three times over the course of the game, only to see the Blackhawks come up with a response each time.
Game four represented the first time in these playoffs that the Bruins attempted to adopt another teams style of play only to have it come back and bite them at the end. As much as there was to criticize in game four, each facet of concern can be corrected. With an extra day off before the black and gold have to travel back to Chicago for game five, the Bruins are going to need to take a long hard look at what went wrong in game four if they hope to take back control of this series.
The most important place that head coach Claude Julien can start is highlighting Boston’s surprising lack of awareness in it’s defense zone. On the Hawks goals scored by Patrick Sharpe and Patrick Kane, the Bruins inexcusably lost track of two of Chicago’s most dangerous players, and it cost them.
Tuukka Rask has had superb rebound control throughout the playoffs, but if Chicago’s offensive is able to continue to generate that level of offensive pressure, the Bruins forwards and defensemen are going to need to be more aware.
Far too often, Rask was was left to face second and third shots from in close. The Hawks are a highly talented offensive unit, and with two of the remaining three games at home, are going to have the energy that was ever-present in game four. Rask is almost always up to the challenge, but the Bruins must raise their awareness and commitment to contest.
The Bruins are no longer going to have last change in game five, but regardless of the matchups, the Bruins centers are going to need to rediscover how to control the game at the dot.
In game four the Bruins won the face off advantage 39 to 38, but compared to the their domination in game three (winning 40 of 56) the B’s gave away one of their most significant advantages.
Winning faces allows for Boston to accomplish two significant goals. If the B’s win the draw in the offensive zone, then their forwards and defenseman can implement Claude Julien’s punishing forecheck. It may not be pretty, but it has carried the Bruins to this point.
More importantly, securing possession in their own zone dramatically helps negate the skill of the Blackhawks. Chicago's team defined by its ability to control the puck, and even though winning faceoffs doesn’t totally negate the Blackhawks speedy forecheck, at least it allows the Bruins a head start in moving the play out of the zone.
As disappointing as it was for the Bruins to lose game four, there certainly were positives. The Bruins offense was as potent as ever, and the Bruins defensemen rediscovered their scoring touch from earlier in the playoffs. Still the Bruins players understand there is a lot of work to be done. At this point both teams are done feeling each other out, and now have a sturdy understanding of what to expect from one another.
Games two and three of this series are more than enough proof the Bruins know what needs to be done to defeat the Blackhawks. For Boston to win game five, its just a matter of execution.
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