ARLINGTON, Va. - The Bruins hope their troubles are a simple fix.
Boston dropped Game 1 of its first-round series on Saturday night - a 3-2 overtime setback against the Washington Capitals - struggling most of the contest to generate much of anything in the offensive zone.
The Bruins managed twice to tie the game on goals from the fourth line (Jake DeBrusk off a Curtis Lazar faceoff wing) and the power play (David Pastrnak's shot deflecting off of Nick Ritchie's leg from the doorstep), but beyond that lacked a sustained attack in Washington's end and failed to take advantage of the Caps' goalie troubles when Craig Anderson was forced to enter the game in the first period after an injury to Vitek Vanecek.
It was a far cry from Boston's offensive outburst over the season's final month - during which they ranked third in the NHL in goals scored - which followed the acquisition of Taylor Hall at the trade deadline. The Black & Gold, however, hope that they have quickly identified some areas of improvement and are aiming to right the ship in Game 2 on Monday night.
"We certainly went through some of our O-zone sequences," Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said of what stood out when reviewing the film from Game 1. "We had some high tips that were good where there were some rebounds…it was a tight battle. That's going to be a challenge with bigger D, we know that. So, there was some pockets of good stuff, but not enough up and down the lineup to generate enough offense.
"I thought the other part was our neutral-zone attacks. We did have some time, we didn't really challenge their D well enough. I thought there was opportunity - Taylor Hall certainly did, drew a couple penalties, got in behind them on a power-play entry. Need a little bit more of that with our guys that have pace to force their D to defend you. Those were two areas we looked at."
Boston landed just 26 shots on goal with another 16 blocked and 21 more attempts missing the net altogether. Craig Smith, who had just one shot make it to the net in Game 1, believes the Bruins can do a far better job creating havoc in front of the Washington net. During the playoffs, he noted, it's often a fluky bounce or deflection - see all three of the Capitals goals and Ritchie's power-play tally in Game 1 - that results in a goal.
"Definitely play off the shot a little bit more, probably will be an emphasis [on Monday]" Smith explained following the B's Sunday afternoon practice at the Capitals' training facility. "Maybe looking for too much in different areas. I thought our game was good. Obviously, there are some things we want to do better but we've seen quite a bit of playoff hockey and know that just a tip or a funny shot through traffic, it can go in sometimes.
"We're not looking for too much, obviously got to hit the net, but it's either got to be a body or a stick on the puck. I thought we got our stick on quite a few pucks and had some good looks, rebounds - second chances are gonna be there. I think our team is hungry enough to deal with those when they come.
"That's all playoff hockey. It's just funny goals, nothing is pretty. If you don't look for too much, I think you're going to get a second or third whack at a puck and that's when you're gonna get your goals."
Video: Forward Craig Smith talks after Sunday's practice
Lauzon Misses Practice
Jeremy Lauzon was given a maintenance day on Sunday after blocking a shot with his hand in Game 1. The blue liner's status for Game 2 will be determined on Monday. Jarred Tinordi and Connor Clifton practiced in Lauzon's place and would be the top options to enter the lineup should Lauzon be unable to go.
Cassidy said he is not yet sure how any changes to the back end would affect matchups, acknowledging that size and toughness is critical to combatting some of Washington's top-end talent, particularly the top line of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Anthony Mantha.
"We do like bigger bodies against them, if it's not going to be [Matt Grzelcyk] and Charlie [McAvoy]," said Cassidy. "That's one we'll have to look at [on Monday]. I think Kevan [Miller] will do a good job against Ovechkin, playing hard. I think he got inside ice too often, to be honest, keep him to the outside. It caused some problems once he gets in there because he plays his offside so he's on his forehand. That's something we've looked at.
"If it's [Brandon] Carlo, he's long, should be able to deter that. At the end of the day, they're going to dictate that. It may have to be Grizz and Charlie, which, with Mantha on the other side, is not ideal for Grizz. I think adding offense to the Bergeron line when they used [Lars] Eller, it suits Grizz a little better in terms of his matchup particularly, but we've got to do what's best for the team.
"If he has to play against bigger bodies, he's done his whole career. That's what we'll do, I guess. But we're going to make that determination [on Monday] once we get a better read on who's healthy and whoever it is."
Cassidy does not expect any other lineup changes for Game 2. Tuukka Rask, unsurprisingly, will get the start in goal.
"I don't see any up front," said Cassidy. "We're going to stick with what we've got. Make a few adjustments, as we said. As the series goes on, I think, typically, teams should get better and I expect that to be the case for us. We're going to need to, especially in their building."
Video: Cassidy talks offense ahead of game 2