Bean: Bruins don't have much time to figure this all out


Calling games "must-win" can be an eyeroll-inducing affair. The only games that truly need to be won are the ones that could result in elimination.

Yet as the night went on Monday, Game 5 turned into a must-win for the Bruins. With how much they were dominating, and with the scoring chances they were creating -- and, most importantly, the questions they’d have about their team after -- they needed to win that game. With only (up to) two more contests in the series, it would be unreasonable to expect the ice to be tilted like that again.

The Bruins went all-out, spent most of the night peppering Semyon Varlomov and even made a desperation play by changing their goalie when down multiple goals in the third period. Now, the Islanders get to go home saying they’ve absorbed the Bruins’ best shot.

Game 5 takeaways: Disastrous penalty kill sinks Bruins

Rosters be damned, New York is in control of the series and, for the first time, we have to entertain the puzzling idea of the Bruins not making it out of the second round.

The Bruins were responsible for 68 percent of the shot attempts at 5-on-5 in Game 5. That’s the most one-sided it’s been for either team in a game this series. The second-most dominant performance was the Bruins in Game 1, which they won, followed by the Bruins in Game 3, which they won.

High-danger chances at 5-on-5 favored the Bruins 6-2 on Monday. In fact, the Bruins even outscored New York at 5-on-5, three goals to one. Being that much better than the opponent needs to yield victory.

But the Bruins didn’t just luck into a loss. Despite carrying the play at even strength, the Bruins’ fourth-liners and power play were horrible, both possibly exacerbated by the departure of Curtis Lazar. The Islanders scored on three of four power plays, often aided by mistakes from the B’s.

Tuukka Rask made a huge save on Kyle Palmieri in the second period, but was otherwise ordinary before departing due to ... "maintenance." Jeremy Swayman, who came in cold, allowed one goal on three shots. The Islanders had only 19 shots, but neither of Boston’s goalies had a save percentage of .800 (.750 for Rask, .667 for Swayman).

Latest update on Tuukka Rask's status entering Game 6

Even when the Bruins were seemingly dead in the water, they were buzzing. Minutes before David Krejci brought the Bruins within one, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand threatened with a 2-on-1. Even with the horrible penalty kill and the mistakes made, the game didn’t feel out of reach because the Bruins kept creating.

Bruce Cassidy was right to complain about the officials again after the game, even if the “New York Saints” stuff was a little much. Patrice Bergeron’s puck over the glass delay of game had to be called, but the first two penalties called on Boston -- a very light Sean Kuraly slash and Matt Grzelcyk just clearing a guy out in front -- were excessive. They both led to goals, too.

So Cassidy and the Bruins need some breaks from the officials in Game 6, even though they should be capable of winning without them.

The injuries are mounting, though. Getting Brandon Carlo back for Game 6 (and/or 7) would be big, but now the Bruins also have to worry about Lazar. Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner have both looked deserving of press box duty at points this postseason, but if Lazar can’t play, Kuraly would likely have to center the fourth line. Jake DeBrusk, who was a healthy scratch Monday, would potentially re-enter the lineup.

Of course, the biggest injury question is in net. In a vacuum, the Bruins are definitely capable of beating the Islanders with Swayman in net, but two games in a row with their backs to the wall? That’s a dicier proposition. If Rask is healthy enough, he’s the guy. If he isn’t, it’s Swayman.

But the Bruins shouldn’t have trailed in Game 5, let alone lost it. Now they’re beaten up, not sure of who their goalie is, complaining about the officials and one game away from elimination.

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