By Ian Moran
Special to BostonSportsJournal.com
Ian Moran played in over 500 NHL games, including 66 in the postseason, in 15 years as a defenseman with the Penguins, Bruins, and Ducks before retiring in 2008. The Acton native attended Belmont Hill and Boston College before being a sixth-round pick of the Penguins in 1990. The Duxbury resident is currently the head New England scout for Neutral Zone, a first-of-its-kind hockey scouting and news site which identifies, ranks and profiles NCAA and Ontario Hockey League (OHL) prospects from across North America. Ian will be breaking down each Bruins playoff game for BostonSportsJournal.com. You can follow Ian on Twitter at @IMHockeySkills.
WHY THE BRUINS LOST GAME 6
Nazem Kadri. Everyone in Toronto should be thanking him. It would have been a five-game series, but his stupid decision in Game 1 got him suspended and put Tomas Plekanec in play and since then, everything has changed. Patrice Bergeron got hurt (kid in the turtleneck — Plekanec — hit him), David Pastrnak stopped putting field goals up every game (kid in the turtleneck is in his face) and Game 6 was the last thing I wanted to see ... Brad Marchand making fun of the kid in the turtleneck. I think there’s nothing better than watching a guy play on the edge and Marchand is the most effective guy in the league at being a dirtbag, but The Turtleneck is in his head. Honestly, heading into the third period last night I would have guaranteed a B's win. A few minutes into it and Marchand was slamming sticks and talking to Plekanec. Since Kadri got suspended, Plekanec, Mitch Marner, and Patrick Marleau have dominated the B's top line. Marner has seven points and the B's top line has two. Think about that. A kid who could be playing in The Super 8 has seven points and the B's best line has barely been on the scoresheet.
TWO OTHER THINGS THAT STOOD OUT
The Toronto defensemen: I got stuck at work so I couldn’t write earlier, but my God was I annoyed at some of the comments I heard on talk radio. All day it was Toronto’s D sucks from 1-to-6 ... Pressure Toronto's defense and there’s no transition ... Toronto can’t provide any offense. Last night they were very good and as the game went on, they got better. They’re catching the Bruins in transition gaps and I realize that Marchand missed an easy one on Marner’s goal, but he missed it because Toronto had the Bruins caught in transition. Roman Polak has zero points and Kevan Miller has two, but who has had more of an impact on the wins and losses?
Frederik Andersen: The guy has been foolish. Fool... ish. It happens but, my goodness, what a turnaround. I misspell his name each write-up, but 18 saves in the first period was incredible.
THREE UP FOR BRUINS
None. Zero. They’ve had two games to close them out and it hasn’t happened. This series should be over.
Home ice ... that’s a crappy plus after losing two games.
Bruce Cassidy. They played well enough all year to have home-ice advantage. This all comes down to Cassidy. Who’s in the lineup? Who gets the D zone face-off responsibilities? Does he play Miller and Adam McQuaid? Ryan Donato ... Rick Nash... Holy cow Rick Nash...
TWO DOWN FOR THE BRUINS
Cassidy again: Does he play Miller and McQuaid? Right now they are the same guy and they’re having a hell of a time with Toronto’s speed and transition. People bitched and moaned about Miller’s penalty in Game 6, but he deserved it. A double fist to the back of the head is a penalty. If I’m Cassidy, I play Nick Holden. I’m not saying this because I dislike Miller. I’m saying this because Holden can pick up a primary assist, and a home-ice faceoff works in Cassidy’s favor. I really believe Holden is in a fun-bunch tomorrow night.
Charlie McAvoy: This hurts. It really hurts. McAvoy has become a target for Leaf forwards. I know his knee is junk. And I’m sure he needs surgery. But holy of the holy he gets run by the Leafs every shift. In Game 3, he got run on an icing and he has not been the same player since. I’m not lying ... he’s getting run every shift. He makes a pass, boom. He joins the rush, boom. And in Game 6 while he was on his way to the bench, McAvoy was getting hit. I’d love to see him stick somebody early Wednesday night to give himself some space ... but that’d be wrong, so I hope he sticks somebody early to give himself some space.... right in the giblets, so the Leafs know he’s there.
TWO UP FOR THE LEAFS
Plekanec: He is so far into the Bergeron line’s heads that they’re randomly falling down. In back-to-back games, Pastrnak has wiped out on a pivot while trying to make a pass to the point ... and once was on a power play.
Marner has become a man: And it’s fun to watch. All game we hear that he weighs 172 pounds and that’s total bull. The kid weighs 155 tops and he’s dominating Zdeno Chara who weighs in at 250. The kid has Church Bells and he’s from Toronto, so the Leafs doing well means as much to him as it does to everyone in the crowd. I fully believe that Marner is the future captain of The Leafs. It matters to him the same way it matters to a kid who grows up in Boston ... and he’s leading the Leafs right now. He can’t grow a playoff beard yet but he’s Mike Babcock’s guy.
ONE DOWN FOR THE LEAFS
No pressure: The Leafs have one minus and it’s that they have no pressure on them. Oh wait, that’s a plus. The B's need the first PP ... the first goal ... you’re not winning Game 7 at home if you go into the 3rd tied 0-0. Sorry Rene, but this could be the end.
His play is always a topic, so we’re asking an expert to assess him.
He’s a top 5 goalie in the world. He really is and if The B's lose ... he’s gone. The B's lose and this team gets broken up. If it doesn’t happen, it’s time to move on from some popular guys. But if they win, they’re beating Tampa.
ADJUSTMENTS I EXPECT BRUINS TO MAKE
Before the series, I said Toronto would win in seven, but right now i want:
- McAvoy to take a charging penalty early in the first;
- Marchand to shoot the puck and drive the net so he can draw a penalty;
- Chara to manhandle Auston Matthews because he can;
- And Rick Nash to wear a normal tint shield so he can pick up a rebound and score the game-winner.