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Bruins Post-game breakdown: Round Robin #3: BOS vs WSH

Photo courtesy of @NHLBruins

The Bruins finish the round-robin with 0 wins and 3 losses falling to the #4 seed after leading all teams in points during the regular season. They will face the Carolina Hurricanes in a rematch of last year's eastern conference final. The Canes look dangerous coming off a convincing sweep of the New York Rangers. In a well-played game where both goalies shined, the Bruins could only find the net once en route to a 2-1 loss to the Capitals. Let's get into the Breakdown!

Sections: The Recap - The Story - The Stats - Video Breakdown - Moment of the Night


A quick recap of tonight's action by period

1st Period - Both teams played a fairly conservative period being patient and trying to wait for the chink in the opponent's armor. The Bruins appeared the stronger team with double the shot attempts, shots on goal, and scoring chances. However, a faceoff win late in the period led to some good puck movement for the Capitals. A shot-pass from the point was redirected on goal by Nicklas Backstrom. Tuukka Rask blocked the puck which popped out in front onto Zdeno Chara's stick. As Chara attempted to settled and move the puck, a sneakyTJ Oshie snuck in and whacked it into the open cage.

1-0 WSH

2nd Period - The second ends with the same score as the first. Both teams had moments where they did everything but get the puck over the goal line for example an Ilya Kovalchuk rush that end with the puck skirting the line and Bruins rush and subsequent scramble that featured two point-blank Nick Ritchie misses. The Bruins continue to drive the 5v5 play although their edge was narrower than the first. The Caps powerplay looked much more dangerous than the Bruins who struggled to find ways to the night in the 2nd after some promising looks in the 1st.

1-0 WSH

3rd Period - The Bruins pressed for the equalizer off the opening to play only to have a miscommunication on a clearing play by the Capitals lead to a footrace between Tom Wilson and Charlie McAvoy. With a step on the Dman, Wilson won the race, shielded the puck and chipped it over the glove hand of Rask less than three minutes in. After a lull, the Bruins got back going again and managed to score on a 3v2 rush when Ondrej Kase managed to move the puck through the Capitals defense to Jake Debrusk crashing the net. Debrusk showed his skill pulling the puck from behind him and depositing it under Holtby while moving full speed. The Bruins had a few other chances in this one including attempts by Pastrnak and Marchand in all alone but couldn't come any closer.

2-1 WSH

Check out the complete recap from Mike Cratty at blackngoldhockey.com: https://blackngoldhockey.com/2020/08/09/bruins-post-game-recap-boston-vs-washington-8-9-20/


Highlighting the key storylines and narratives of the game from across the Bruinsverse

The Bruins remain snakebitten through the round-robin. While some of that is a product of their own play especially in game 1 and to some degree in game 2, the hockey gods have not looked down kindly on them. Perhaps a composite stick sacrifice or two is in order before the next game. The Bruins powerplay continues to struggle and while it looked dangerous on its first opportunity today, it didn't do much on it's second. The PP finishes the round-robin 0 for 9, a concern for a team that typically converts at 25%. At even strength, the team played well. The first line created numerous scoring chances. David Krejci looked comfortable with Ondrej Kase in his debut and both were complimented well by goal scorer Jake Debrusk. Nick Ritchie fit in well as a puck pursuer and down low presence alongside Charlie Coyle and Anders Bjork, the latter of whom did some heavy lifting transporting the puck through the neutral zone. Torey Krug and Charlie McAvoy both had great chances while hopping up into the rush and during offensive zone sequences. But with all that said, this was often the end result for the Bs, head looking to the sky asking the hockey gods why?

Bruins beat writers, blogs, and #bruinstwitter had the following to say:


Taking a look at the stats and analytics of the contest to dig under the hood and complement the "eye-test" in breaking down the game

Expected Goals

The Bruins had the more consistent chances throughout the game leading in expected goals for much of the contest. The Caps bigger pushes came on the man advantage where they were dangerous though they couldn't score. Both teams played a conservative first period before trading some chances later in the game. Inevitably the Capitals were the more efficient team and came away with a victory for it.

Expected Goal Charts Courtesy of MoneyPuck.com and naturalstattrick.com


Understanding Heatmaps

The Bruins did manage to get to the front of the net more in this one. They also put more pucks on the net from the top of the zone. A contributing factor for this definitely is the Bruins increase in sustained zone time as their forward lines were able to rotate and keep possession of the puck often leading to finding players in front or working the low to high pass for shots from the point. The Capitals had fewer chances but certainly had a number of dangerous ones for Rask to contend with. Both goals for Washington came from in tight.

Heat Map courtesy naturalstattrick.com

Game Score

Understanding Game Score

courtesy of Hockeystatcards.com

It's good to see David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand back in a darker shade of blue. The two first-line wingers led the team in individual expected goals by a wide margin, more in line with their expectations than the previous two games. Both players easily could have had a couple of goals off of their individual efforts on the rush and 5-man movement in the offensive zone. High grades for Krejci and Kase hopefully indicate some chemistry for the duo heading into the first round. The Bruins top 9 forwards and top 4 D generally drove play at a high margin in this game. The table below highlights this point.

stats courtesy of naturalstatrick.com

The 4th line and bottom pair D, on the other hand, seemed to struggle in their minutes and were on for both goals against. An unfortunate breakdown on the Caps game-winning goal further dinged the 4th line who had been in on the attack seconds before, the subject of this games video breakdown.


Video analysis examining the finer details of a key moment of the game, an important strategic decision, or a particularly impressive play

There were a number of options for this game. Amongst the considerations were some positives from Boston including their movement in the offensive zone and the play of Krug in jumpstarting breakouts and following the play to provide support and options on the rush. Likewise, how the Capitals game-planned and limited the Bruins power-play, one not dissimilar from their own with co-Rocket winner Alex Ovechkin. But in the end, we chose Tom Wilson's go-ahead goal which came at the tail end of an otherwise strong Bruins 4th line shift. It highlights a case of a momentary lapse in coverage and communication that solidified the Bs winless round-robin.

The play starts with an excellent forecheck from the 4th line in their aggressive 2-1-2 setup. This leads to a shot on goal from Nordstrom who has covered for McAvoy on the pinch. He is the high forward or F3 on the play, supporting the D if they choose to be aggressive. We pick up the clips following that shot.

On the rebound of Nordstrom's shot, Kuraly continues the aggressive forecheck attacking Kempny who outlets the puck to the sideboards.

The Bruins defenseman (I think Lauzon) aggressively pinches down trying to win the race or at least neutralize Kovalchuk. He does this because he expects Nordstrom, F3, to have his back. Kovy's stick will get there just before and send the puck out towards center ice. Final note, see McAvoy on the top of the screen watching the puck and unaware of Tom Wilson (not in the picture).

Nordstrom, pictured on the bottom had not quite made it all the way across the blue line and Kovalchuk's swat makes it's way out to center. McAvoy, pictured at the top, originally thinking Nordstrom would be there and be able to be first to the puck now realizes the puck has made it past his teammate. His bit of puck watching also has him a little flat-footed. Wilson, counting on Kovalchuk to get the puck out of the zone, had taken off from the far side before the Bs noticed and now has a step on both white jerseys.

Wilson is faster than he gets credit for and with his headstart wins the race. He puts his back to McAvoy to protect the puck. McAvoy likely should have taken an angle more direct to his goalie's post than to Wilson. Nordstrom, realizing he is beat, tries to propel McAvoy with his stick but to no avail.

McAvoy, still behind Wilson, takes a swipe at the puck and misses allowing Wilson to bring the puck across his body to his forehand. By bringing the puck across his body, Wilson has now changed the angle of the puck from the short side, which Rask has perfectly sealed, to the far side which has just a little daylight over the keeper's glove. And with that, Wilson has outscored Pastrnak and his team wins the game.


Because sometimes you just gotta smile...

Ok, let's bring on the real hockey! Bruins beat the Canes in 7, you heard it here.

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