Back Check with the Bruins Buff

Friday, April 16, 2010

What the B's Need to Improve - Stanley Cup Game 1

OK -- so that's not the start we were all hoping for from the Boston Bruins last night. A little more scoring, a little more physicality, and a little more parity from the refs would've gone a long way in the B's first meeting with the Buffalo Sabres in the post-season.

Luckily, it's only the first game in what will hopefully be a long series. It's far from over. But the B's need to improve a lot of little aspects of their game if they want to move onto Round 2 or further.

First problem: Passing. This has been an issue for most of the season, but Boston needs to at least try and remedy it now. Too many blind passes, too many passes behind the stick, and too many passes ahead of the stick. The B's just need to do basic tape-to-tape passes, especially when they're trying to break out of their own zone. Seems like they're fumbling too much with the puck, which leads to sloppy entries and breakouts into the offensive zone.

Second: Forwards need to play better. I'm looking at Michael Ryder and Blake Wheeler in particular. I barely noticed Ryder at all, and I only noticed Wheeler when he was taking soft shots from the top of the right circle (hey, like Kessel used to!). Marco Sturm needs to try bringing the puck deeper into the offensive zone instead of slapping shots the minute he enters the offensive zone. Milan Lucic needs to keep the puck on his stick. David Krejci played OK but needs to do a better job fighting along the boards.

Third: Defense. Way too timid coming out of their own zone last night. You could definitely sense some hesitation at times, and this led to extended pressure by the Sabres. The Sabres didn't pull out all the stops with their forechecking either -- the B's defensemen were just relying too much on their partners to clear the zone rather than trying to do it themselves. Additionally, big defensemen can't be screening their goaltender while letting Sabres players rip shots from the slot. I'm looking at you, Johnny Boychuk.

On a positive note, the power play finally clicked last night. Lucic and Chara did a good job of getting the team into the game physically, though more hitting in general would've been beneficial. And Tuukka Rask played decent in his first career playoff appearance.

Regardless, Boston only ended up losing the game by a goal. Best possible scenario: the B's steal a game in Buffalo on Saturday afternoon and send this thing back to Boston tied. Can't think about much more than that at this point in the series.

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