Nearly 48 hours later, Bruins fans are still buzzing.
On the cusp of a series-tying defeat, the Bruins mounted a comeback that surely made B’s fans’ heart skip a beat. At the final buzzer, however, it then brought back memories of another James Reimer playoff third period against Boston. After an uninspiring first two periods, the Bruins, minus David Pastrnak, could have easily packed it in and looked towards game five. Instead, they dominated the final 20 minutes with four-unanswered goals giving them the type of win that could not only seal this series but set them up for a long playoff run.
I’m talking myself into a DeBrusk goal tonight.
— Chris B (@Chris_Blackey) August 17, 2020
It was Jake DeBrusk’s acrobatic goal that got the Bruins going early in the third period and they never looked back. Near the end of the second period, Boston had fallen behind 2-0 on goals from Justin Williams and Jordan Martinook, respectfully, and the absence of Pastrnak’s offense was starting to be felt. DeBrusk’s goal, his first, may have been the beginning, however, Charlie McAvoy’s leveling of Jordan Staal seeled the Hurricanes’ fate.
The young Bruins defenseman has looked phenomenal this postseason. Fans have been waiting for him to make that proverbial jump from “star” to “superstar” in the NHL and we may finally be seeing it. A welcome sign for fans of the ‘Black and Gold’. There is still a long way to go, consistency is key, but it’s hard not to be impressed by his play right now.
After the hit, the Hurricanes looked different. They lacked any sort of response to the hit both against McAvoy and in their game. (How can you not stick up for your captain?) That stuck out more so than the loss. The Canes looked like a team that was in shock despite still holding a one-goal lead in the third. However, that didn’t last much longer as ‘Cliffy Hockey’ tied it on a blast from the right point. The game was tied but it was already over. Brad Marchand’s breakaway to give the Bruins the lead was inevitable.
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The “little ball of hate” as he is known in New England has had himself a good series despite being relatively quiet on the scoresheet. He has had a knack for making big plays and the go-ahead goal against the Canes was just another example. Not long after, riding the monumental momentum shift, DeBrusk struck again to make it 4-2 on a beautiful feed from Ondrej Kase and David Krejci. At the time it felt like extra but it ultimately became the game-winning goal as the Canes were able to put one behind Halak late in the third. Nonetheless, the second line is heating up like a furnace in the Wintertime. Kase has seemed to fit nicely alongside Krejci who has been the Bruins best player since the return.
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The emergence of the second line couldn’t have come at a better time given Pastrnak’s three-game absence. On that front, the Bruins could do themselves some good closing out this series in Game 5 to give the league’s top goal scorer extra time to get healthy. Bruce Cassidy is not afraid to shuffle the lineup but his job is much easier with Pasta as an option.
The line that generally gets overlooked is the trio of Nordstrom-Lindholm-Wagner. I can not stress how important those type of lines is to a team. Especially the Bruins. The ‘sandpaper line’, as I like calling them, has been vital. Nordstrom’s play, in particular, has stuck out in this series. He actually just blocked another shot as this was written.
— Full Press NHL (@FullPressNHL) August 18, 2020
Let’s be clear, the series isn’t over…yet. Despite the 3-1 series advantage, the Bruins still could sharpen their game. For one, their powerplay has been lackluster at best despite a number of opportunities. Boston’s 5-on5 play was better in game four but that is an area they need to get far more consistent as the playoffs continue. The play of Anders Bjork has not been good so far forcing Cassidy to move Charlie Coyle up from his third-line center position and Bjork down to the third. Bjork will have to be better or he may find himself on the bench permanently.
Despite their third period effort or lack thereof, the Canes will not roll over for the Bruins. Under Rod Brind’Amour, they will show some grit but everything that I have seen tells me this series is over if the Bruins continue to play their game. They are, simply put, the better team with all the momentum after Carolina squandered their opportunity in game four. The Canes are headed in the right direction. Their time will come in due time.
Just not against these Bruins.