Boston Bruins: Why this series has gone the distance

On Wednesday night at the TD Garden, the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens will play their fourth game seven in their last five playoff series.  Through six games, there have been stretches of dominant play from the Bruins, and there have been stretches where the team has made a number of mistakes and failed to convert on great scoring opportunities.  For the Bruins to win game seven and move on to the Conference Finals they will need to eliminate the mental mistakes which have cost them in each of their three losses and bury the puck in the back of the net when given the opportunity.

During the stretches of dominating play this series, the Bruins have often times been unable to capitalize on excellent offensive zone time.  A perfect example of this came in game six, when Boston had control of the puck in Montreal’s end for close to two minutes.  During that stretch, the Bruins had the Montreal skaters out of gas and unable to win races to loose pucks.  All of that pressure, however, did not lead to a goal, and the game turned shortly after that when the Habs scored on a partial breakaway by Max Pacioretty.  It is sequences like that which have caused the Bruins the most trouble in this series.

The Canadiens’ speed is one of the biggest advantages they have on the Bruins, and they have used it to push this series to a deciding seventh game.  Boston has had difficulty keeping track of the Habs in the neutral zone, which has led to long stretch passes by the Montreal defense.    There have been many instances in this series that a stretch pass has led to a breakaway for Montreal.  The Bruins will need to do a better job at clogging the neutral zone and taking away the passing lanes that Montreal has used to get breakaways.

The Bruins and Canadiens are heading for another game seven in the playoffs.  Despite having a lot of puck possession in this series, the Bruins have been unable to impose their will on a consistence basis.  A big reason for that is Montreal’s speed taking advantage of mistakes by Boston in the neutral zone.  Boston has allowed Canadiens skaters to get behind them in the neutral zone which something that cannot happen when facing a faster team.

The biggest reason why this series is going to a seventh game, however, is the missed opportunities by Boston.  This series would be over if Boston had buried just half of the numerous open nets they have had throughout six games.  Instead, the Bruins will have to play a game seven on Wednesday night instead of looking forward to their next opponent in the Eastern Conference Finals.