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Round 2

Bruins' lack of 5-on-5 scoring among reasons for playoff elimination

Little offensive production beyond first line, Krug injury doomed Boston against Lightning

by Matt Kalman / NHL.com Correspondent

The Boston Bruins advanced beyond the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2014 and won Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

But when the Lightning picked up their intensity, the Bruins didn't have an answer, and Tampa Bay won four in a row to eliminate Boston in a battle of the top two teams in the East.

 

[RELATED: Complete Lightning vs. Bruins series coverage]

 

"I thought we got away from playing as a group of five, defending, getting back in position and attacking as a group of five," Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. "We saw a little more of that in the third period [of Game 5], a little more desperation obviously, but at times we got a little bit individual, especially the last few games."

Here are 5 reasons the Bruins were eliminated:

 
1. Missing 5-on-5 offense

The Bruins went the final 187:20 of the series without an even-strength goal after defenseman Charlie McAvoy scored with 4:02 remaining in the third period of Game 2. They didn't get even-strength goal from a forward after Game 1.

The Bruins first line of Patrice Bergeron (five goals, three assists), Brad Marchand (one goal, seven assists) and David Pastrnak (one goal, six assists) combined for 23 points and carried the offense but didn't have one 5-on-5 point after Pastrnak's assist on McAvoy's goal.

"They played a very good system 5-on-5 and they were better than we were," Marchand said. "You can't rely on special teams every night to win games. They help for sure, but you have to score 5-on-5 and obviously we didn't."

 
2. Secondary scoring

The Bruins may have done better if they had gotten anything from their third and fourth lines.

Cassidy tried some lineup changes for Game 4, inserting Ryan Donato and Brian Gionta in place of Riley Nash and Danton Heinen. The Bruins lost 4-3 in overtime.

Nash replaced Gionta in Game 5 and Donato moved onto the second line with David Krejci and Rick Nash but that didn't add much. A new-look third line of Jake DeBrusk, Sean Kuraly and David Backes had some chances, but Backes left the game with an injury in the second period and the Bruins lost 3-1.

 
3. Torey Krug injury

In the third period of the 4-3 overtime loss in Game 4, defenseman Torey Krug chased the puck into the corner with Tampa Bay forward Alex Killorn. Krug fell, slid feet-first into the boards and gingerly skated off the ice. Krug, who had three points (one goal, two assists) in the first four games, was lost for the rest of the series with an injury to his left ankle.

Without Krug for Game 5 the Bruins went 1-for-3 on the power play, but he was missed on their first power-play unit, during their 6-on-5 in the third period with goaltender Tuukka Rask pulled, and at 5-on-5, where Matt Grzelcyk had to play more minutes and Nick Holden played for the first time since Game 3 of the first round.

 
4. Lack of discipline

The Bruins had the No. 3 penalty kill in the NHL during the regular season at 83.7 percent, and the Lightning had the No. 3 power play at 23.9 percent. The Lightning power play won the special-teams battle during the series, with the Bruins allowing five power-play goals in 19 times shorthanded.

The Bruins were shorthanded 15 times in seven games against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round but found themselves a man down too much against the high-octane Lightning power play. Boston was shorthanded three times in Game 5, with J.T. Miller scoring the game-winning goal with Bergeron in the box for tripping.

 
5. Point line eruption

Although the Bruins' top line of Bergeron, Marchand and Pastrnak had an impressive offensive performance, they didn't have a 5-on-5 point in the final three games of the series. That line's slowdown largely was because of the Lightning line of Brayden Point centering Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson and the defense pair of Ryan McDonagh and Anton Stralman. In addition to that forward line's defensive play, Point scored in Game 4 and Game 5 and Palat scored two goals in Game 3.

***

 

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