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 WON GAME 1
Tampa Bay had a week to rest and get ready for Game 1 and there were long stretches of the game where they dominated. But from the start, Tuukka Rask played well and the Bruins' top line was better than Tampa's.
As we talked about after Game 7, Patrice Bergeron looked like himself again and that’s a chain reaction through the lineup, especially the No. 1 line. I have no idea what his faceoff stats were and I don’t really care. Hall of Famer Ron Francis used to let guys win draws at certain times. He was setting them up so he could win when it mattered. I’m not saying Bergeron is playing bullcrap with these guys, but he rarely has lost a draw when it’s mattered over the past two games and Game 1. I don’t remember him losing a D-zone draw that mattered.
As for Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, they looked far too comfortable. They both had four points and it seemed like they could have had a couple more. When you watch Pastrnak and see his creativity, you think he should be a perimeter player. But in reality, he goes to the grimy areas and goes there confidently.
— NHL Daily 365 (@NHLDaily365) April 28, 2018
The way he attacked the net on Bergeron’s first goal is a prime example. He settled a Marchand pass that was deflected on its way to him and attacked the along the goal line. Every Tampa Bay player thought he’d pull up and try to go short-side shelf including Andrei Vasilevskiy (if I can’t spell Andersen, then look out for this guy). Instead, he attacks, changes the angle, does a little toe drag and slides a perfect pass to Bergeron. The whole play is a clinic on using the wall as an extra option on a low- to high-back low cycle, but the goal doesn’t happen if Pastrnak doesn’t attack.
As for The Rat Bastard ...I have a man-crush on him. I watch way more hockey than any person should and he makes me feel like nobody else. Honestly, he makes me laugh. He makes me cry. I love Brad Marchand. I said it. I love him. Yesterday he was at his best. An All-Star Game linemate with Brayden Point? Screw it, here’s a crosscheck to the ribs. The League says he can’t lick anyone ... Screw it, Tyler Johnson might get a hickey. Nobody thinks he can dominate at this level? Here’s a goal and three helpers, so screw you. Marchand is the most entertaining player in the NHL and I love him.
THREE UP FOR BRUINS
On D-zone face-off wins, both wings were flying the zone and the Bruins are coming up the strong-side hard. Just like early in the Toronto series when a bouncing puck led to a Marchand goal, the Bruins are trying to put pressure on a flat-footed Tampa defenseman.
A prime example comes with about 10:45 left in the first. The draw is to the right of Tuukka and it’s won straight back. Normally a clean win leads to a weak-side breakout, but the Bruins are having their D switch sides. This can allow for Torey Krug to wheel the net or Kevan Miller to use a strong-side chip. Either way, the Bruins' wings are flying and putting a ton of pressure on Tampa's defensemen.
It looks like Tampa doesn’t care if Tuukka can play the puck on dumps and “A goalie that can play the puck well is like an extra D-man” said Captain Obvious. Well, no cow manure. The NHL made up a ridiculously shaped box on the ice because of Marty Brodeur. Tuukka isn’t Marty, but he doesn’t put his D in bad spots. This is definitely something to watch as the series goes on. Will Tampa pressure Tuukka? Will they take away his outlets or do they start to use soft chips to smart areas? I think Tampa keeps making Tuukka use his D and try to capitalize on the mistakes.
Rick Nash’s two goals are exactly what he and the team needed. The first is a foolish back-hand tip that is way harder than it looks and the second is a snipe. Against Toronto, that shot is hitting Andersen on the shoulder. Yesterday it goes post, peanut butter and fun bunch. Massive plus for Nash and the Bruins.
— NHL Daily 365 (@NHLDaily365) April 28, 2018
TWO DOWN FOR THE BRUINS