RALEIGH, NC — The Boston Bruins had to buck the home ice trend to advance to the second round. Instead, one of their troubling trends emerged at the worst possible time.
Teuvo Teravaninen’s doorstep record gave the Carolina Hurricanes a 1-0 lead with 1:24 in the first period of Game 7.
Talyor Hall committed an unwise high-sticking double minor on the next shift. The Bruins made it into the dressing room trailing just 1-0 on hostile terrain.
Bruce Cassidy’s force killed the double-minor but quickly found themselves in a 2-0 hole on Max Domi’s mark.
Jake DeBrusk made the save just 1:50 after Domi’s first goal of the postseason. But the Bruins failed to build DeBrusk’s third career in Game 7. They went into the third half another two goals down after Domi’s second of the middle verse just after Trent Frederic hit the post at the far end of the ice.
David Pastrnak reduced the Bruins’ deficit to 3-2 with just over 21 seconds remaining on the rule. But the Bruins didn’t have much puck luck in the final stanza, including Charlie Coyle, who missed an open net, and Jaccob Slavin, who blocked a Patrice Bergeron shot in the slot in the closing moments.
An off-season of uncertainty awaits the Bruins as their 2021-22 season comes to a close. Here’s what we learned from the 3-2 defeat at the end of the season.
The Home Street disparity reached its conclusion
Most often, the two teams trade home and away wins in long playoff series. That wasn’t the case at all in the first-round match between Bruins and Hurricanes.
The Bruins certainly benefited from the home ice. But with the benefit of the latest change, the forward-running Hurricanes achieve a second gear ahead of their rabid followers.
“They get the matchups they want and it’s the same when we’re home; We’re getting the matchups we want,” Marchand said of the home road momentum in Round 1. “We’re drawing on the energy of our crowd and they’re doing that well here. This is playoff hockey. That’s what you play for all year, is that home field advantage and that’s why because if you’re good at home it counts in the playoffs and they are and we were. And we had to win an away game and we didn’t.”
Cassidy and company didn’t help their cause with ill-timed defensive collapses throughout their four games at the PNC Arena, starting with Teravainen’s marker late in the first stanza.
Unlike Games 1, 2 and 5, the Bruins produced several quality looks for Antti Raanta, who provided Hall’s save of the series during a 2-on-1 in the opening 20 minutes. A lucky jump on Frederic or Coyle chances could have also turned the momentum in Boston’s favor in a hard-fought Game 7.
“If we bury that 2-on-1 things could change in a game like today where it’s hard to score,” Cassidy said. “They don’t get you much but you get the lead and it’s a bit of adversity on their part now.”
DeBrusk and Pastrnak gave the Bruins some life after reacting to Carolina’s second and third tally, respectively. But it was too little too late.
The Bruins looked gassed amid their frequent fights in Raleigh. And now the organization faces another uncertain future.
A hazy off-season awaits the Bruins
Bergeron and his colleague Brad Marchand have seen the highest highs and the lowest lows in their more than ten-year run as linemates.
From the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals to being knocked out in the first round three years later, the feeling of being knocked out left a bitter taste in your mouth. However, this loss may last a little longer.
“You have few opportunities where you have a real chance of going far. And we thought we had that this year,” Marchand said. “So yeah, it hurts.”
In a hint of sorts, Bergeron greeted his team near the visitor tunnel and shook hands with his teammates as they exited the surface of the PNC Arena.
Now the Bruins are awaiting information on Bergeron’s future after the final year of his contract. He may be returning to Boston on a short-term deal. Or he may choose to sign with a Stanley Cup contender with the Bruins’ championship window potentially closed. Or he could decide to hang up the skates after 18 wonderful seasons.
While processing another late-season loss, the Boston captain barely discussed his off-season approach during his post-game press conference.
“Right now it’s too early … it’s obviously too fresh,” Bergeron said. “[The loss] still trumps a hard-fought series, and we came up short. Of course I have to think about it, but I’m not there right now.”
Bergeron’s status aside, the Bruins will have to decide whether to go into rebuild or retool mode. They have some anchors to shorten lifespan if they decide to go either way, including Charlie McAvoy, Jeremy Swayman and Pastrnak, an upcoming unrestricted free agent in 2022-23. They also have two top talents in Fabian Lysell and Mason Lohrei who will likely be battling for NHL minutes in the next few seasons.
But the Bruins can choose to go in the direction of rebuilding or retooling without Cassidy and general manager Don Sweeney.
Perhaps Sweeney’s mixed history with drafting along with certain mind-bending trade and free-agent decisions will see the Bruins progress. Cassidy got everything he could out of this year’s makeshift roster, but if the Bruins want a new GM, he might want to bring a fresh voice behind the bench.
The Bruins’ secondary scoring problems and defensive deficiencies bothered them during their four road losses in Raleigh. With their championship window likely to be closed, they’ll need to reconstruct their roster for the future, with or without Sweeney, Cassidy and Bergeron.
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https://www.boston.com/sports/boston-bruins/2022/05/14/bruins-hurricanes-game-7-final-score-highlights-takeaways-analysis/ Takeaways from the Bruins’ Game 7 loss to the Hurricanes