OTTAWA – Roughly 12 hours after playing a second period in a playoff hockey game where they didn’t register a single, measly shot on net for the entire 20 minutes, the Bruins were still talking about it despite pulling out the win.
It was more cautionary tale than anything else after goals from Frank Vatrano and Brad Marchand propelled them to a 2-1 victory in Game 1 over the Ottawa Senators, but it was most definitely a sobering reminder of what can happen if the Bruins don’t play a smart, patient game against Guy Boucher’s 1-3-1 trap.
Sure the Bruins had a couple of chances in the second to get a shot off, Patrice Bergeron passed on a chance in front and David Pastrnak fell down on a breakaway chance, but they know getting outshot 12-0 is as bad as it’s going to get.
“I think we’ve started to trend toward playoff hockey. We certainly got to that point last night where we learned some lessons, and got twenty minutes’ worth in the second period of how little plays and not getting it through the neutral zone can be compounded into a full period of not being on the attack, and being on your heels too much,” David Backes said. “I think it’s a good learning lesson where we can watch video and say ‘This play didn’t end up in the back of the net, but it led to this, it led to this and it led to this.’ Those downward spiral-kind of plays when you’re not getting the puck deep and making those sacrifices like you need to in making the right play.”
Clearly Vatrano gets the lion’s share of the credit for sniping from the high slot to things up a handful of minutes into the third period, but it was great plays by Adam McQuaid and Riley Nash that set the play up for him. And it was Bruce Cassidy that switched Vatrano on a line with Nash and Dominic Moore to help spark the scoring play and continued a really good feel that the B’s interim head coach has for what needs to be done with his hockey club.
It was also the veteran core group with the Bruins that’s seen and done just about everything in the playoffs over the last 10 years, and wasn’t going to let one bad period turn into flat-out playoff hockey panic.
“Well, we know we can come back. We’ve proven that for at least one game,” said Cassidy. “That alleviates some of the frustration knowing that [we can win] if we stick with it and do the things we’re supposed to do – get it behind their D and create turnovers if you can’t get it in off the rush – and be effective on the power play. I thought our PP generated looks. It didn’t score, but we had plenty of opportunities and can certainly get our offense that way.
“In that situation we just needed to calm down and hit the reset button, and get back to our standard of playing fast, with energy and getting on pucks and winning pucks. And we did. That always starts with your veteran guys. Your leaders lead and your followers follow. So for me personally as a guy that hasn’t been through a lot of these [Stanley Cup] playoffs, it’s going to benefit me as well as some of the players.”
The second period with no shots on net could turn out to be the best possible thing for the Bruins as a cold, hard reminder of exactly what could happen in this series if they stray too far from the game plan vs. the trap-happy Senators.