A 3-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 7 of their first-round playoff series at PNC Arena ended the Boston Bruins’ 2021-22 season. T
The benefit of playing on home ice was enormous in this series, as the home team won every game. After a poor start, the Bruins were unable to rebound in any of their four away games. The Bruins scored with 21.7 seconds remaining in the third period to snatch a 3-1 lead from Carolina.
As a result of their loss, the Bruins will enter an offseason that will be critical to the team’s short- and long-term success. The contract of Patrice Bergeron, the team’s first-line center and captain, is nearly up. It’s unclear if he’ll return or call it a career. Similarly, the Celtics have a slew of holes to fill on their roster, but they lack the kind of prospects or draught picks necessary to make significant improvements.
Here are three things to remember from the Bruins-Hurricanes Game 7 before the offseason begins.
1) Consistently Falling Behind Proved Fatal for B’s
All four games in Carolina were won by the Hurricanes, who took the lead early in six of the seven games.
A beautiful feed from Max Domi to Teuvo Teravainen, who scored the game’s first goal at 18:36 after taking a pass from Jaccob Slavin, gave the Hurricanes the lead despite the Bruins’ best efforts for most of the first 20 minutes.
The Bruins’ first-period woes worsened at the end of the stanza. When a high-sticking penalty against Taylor Hall was declared a double-minor, he received the brunt of the punishment. Because Boston couldn’t stay out of the penalty box, Carolina was given three power-play chances in the first 20 minutes of the game. Bruins’ power-play woes continued into the second round with a 20-11 advantage in games played at PNC Arena.
On the road, the Bruins were outscored by a 5-0 first-period deficit. After the first 40 minutes of Boston’s road games, things get even worse.
During the regular season, the Bruins were 26th in the NHL in terms of goals scored in the third period. They lack offensive firepower and aren’t equipped to fight back from big deficits, as seen by their 1-13-0 record this season when down by two or more goals going into the third period.
Carolina was able to play its tough, aggressive forechecking style of hockey, which is so difficult to fight back against, because of the frequent and early deficits.
2) No Puck Luck
The Bruins learned the hard way in Game 7 that hockey is a game of inches.
In the second period, a fortuitous bounce gave the Hurricanes a 2-0 advantage. Staal attempted to divert a shot toward the goal. However, the puck landed directly in Max Domi’s hands, who sent it over the goal line in a flash.
In the second period, Trent Frederic came close to even the score, but he was unable to find the back of the net. Antti Raanta of the Hurricanes stopped him, but his shot hit the post. Domi’s one-timer gave the Hurricanes a two-goal lead on the subsequent rush-up ice, and Jeremy Swayman couldn’t stop it.
At one point, the Bruins had a two-goal lead and were just one goal away from leveling the score and erasing it. The Hurricanes, on the other hand, went up 3-0.
In the final eight minutes of the third period, Boston had its best opportunity for a goal. On a 2-on-1 rush, Craig Smith threw a powerful pass to Charlie Coyle, but the puck bounced off the blade of his stick and away from the veteran center’s path to the net.
No matter how much luck you have, you can’t count on it since it’s completely random. The Hurricanes, on the other hand, have a way of creating their luck, according to their relentless performance throughout the series.
3) Secondary Scoring Fails to Show Up
The Bruins’ postseason failure was once again due to a lack of scoring depth.
During the 10:04 of ice time that Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and Jake DeBrusk’s first line played, the Bruins outshot the Hurricanes 10-7, outshot them 6-4, and scored a lone goal. At 5-on-5, Carolina had a 31-24 advantage in shot attempts, a 15-13 advantage in shots on goal, and a 2-0 goal differential when Boston’s top line was not on the ice.
The lines in the third and fourth paragraphs were the worst. Trent Frederic had the only shot on goal for this group in the first period. Hurricanes forward Charlie Coyle was on the ice for each of his team’s three goals on the night. There were no shots on goal for Coyle, Smith, or Tomas Nosek.
A significant sum of money was spent by the Bruins over the past two offseasons to address their lack of scoring depth. To put it mildly, the players brought in by general manager Don Sweeney for the season’s most important game and the whole season failed to deliver.
- Erik Haula: 0 G, 0 A, 1 SOG in Game 7 (1 G, 2 A, 9 SOG in the series)
- Nick Foligno: 0 G, 0 A, 1 SOG in Game 7 (0 G, 1 A, 6 SOG in the series)
- Tomas Nosek: 0 G, 0 A, 0 SOG in Game 7 (0 G, 2 A, 5 SOG in the series)
- Craig Smith: 0 G, 0 A, 0 SOG in Game 7 (0 G, 0 A, 13 SOG in the series)
The only even-strength goal scored by Taylor Hall came in the third period of Game 1 of the series. His lone other goal came in Game 3 on the power play.
In Round 1, the Bruins’ best players were asked to carry far too much of the scoring load, particularly on the road trips. Over the past five years, the B’s have been plagued by a lack of great depth upfront.
The Home-road Disparity Reached Its Conclusion
In most long-distance playoff series, the two clubs alternate home and away victories. The Bruins-Hurricanes first-round clash didn’t have that problem at all.
The Bruins’ home-ice advantage was evident. The Hurricanes, though, have a newfound ferocity thanks to the previous change in personnel.
When it comes to the Round 1 home-road dynamic, Marchand noted, “They get the matchups they want, and it’s the same thing when we’re at home; we get the matchups that we want.” “The excitement of our audience is a great source of inspiration for us. Playoff hockey is like this: That’s what you work for all year long, and this is why, because in the playoffs, home-ice advantage matters, and they are, and we were, and they were. In addition, we were required to win an away game, and we didn’t. “”
Throughout their four games at PNC Arena, Cassidy and his team were plagued by ill-timed defensive lapses, starting with Teravainen’s goal in the first period.
Bruins goaltender Antti Raanta made a series-defining stop on Hall during a two-on-one in the first 20 minutes of Game 3 of the best-of-seven series. If Frederic or Coyle’s chances had gotten a lucky bounce, it could have flipped the tide in Boston’s favor in a close Game 7.
After the game, Cassidy said: “If we bury that two-on-one, things might change in a game like today.” It’s a little adversity on their part, but you’ve got the lead now, so it’s not all bad.”
After Carolina’s second and third goals, DeBrusk and Pastrnak gave the Bruins some life. However, it was too late.
In Raleigh, the Bruins were exhausted as they faced numerous uphill struggles. It’s a new uncertain future for the company, too.
A Hazy Off-season Awaits the Bruins
Brad Marchand and Bergeron have been teammates for more than a decade and a half, and they’ve seen both highs and lows.
Three years after their Stanley Cup Final loss, they still had the sour taste of defeat on their lips. However, the pain of this loss could remain for some time.
If you want to go far, you only have a few chances to do so here.” This year, Marchand felt he had it. “Yeah, I guess that’s true.”
As they emerged from the PNC Arena, Bergeron and his teammates welcomed each other and shook hands with each other near the visitors’ tunnel.
Bruins fans will have to wait and see what Bergeron’s future holds after his contract expires. He could end up coming back to Boston for a little stint. There are other options for him, including signing with a Stanley Cup contender. Or he may decide to put his skates away after an incredible 18-year career.
As he reflected on another season-ending defeat, the Boston captain avoided talking about his off-season plans.
Right now, it’s just too early.” Because it’s still so new, Bergeron remarked. While it’s disappointing, we came up short in a hard-fought series. However, I’m not there right now, so I’ll have to give it some thought.
The Bruins need to decide whether or not to enter a rebuilding or a retooling phase. With Charlie McAvoy, Jeremy Swayman, and a pending unrestricted free agent in 2022-23 on the roster, they have a chance to decrease the lifespan if they wish to do so. Fabian Lysell and Mason Lohrei, two of their top prospects, will likely fight for NHL time in the next seasons.
Without Don Sweeney, however, the Boston Bruins may choose to go down the rebuilding path.
The Bruins may be able to move on from Sweeney’s erratic draught record and some of his more puzzling trade and free-agent moves. If the Bruins are looking for a new GM, he might want to bring in a new coach to replace Cassidy on the bench.
During the Bruins’ four road losses in Raleigh, their secondary scoring problems and defensive inadequacies proved fatal. With their championship window presumably closed, they’ll need to rebuild their roster for the future, with or without Sweeney, Cassidy, and Bergeron in it.