Felger: Bruins need to ratchet up their attack

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Felger: Bruins need to ratchet up their attack

By Michael Felger
CSNNE.com

Why is it we can't see the forest through the trees?

Ask Bruins Nation -- players, coaches, fans, media -- how the B's have fallen into a 2-0 hole in the Stanley Cup Finals and you'll get a variety of answers.

You'll hear about turnovers, possession through the neutral zone, toughness and the like. And while all have played a part, none of those issues top my list.

I start with the offense.

After Mark Recchi kicked in the go-ahead goal with 8:25 remaining in the second period on Saturday night, do you realize how many shots the B's generated the rest of the game?

Try six.

In 28:25 of play.

After getting smoked in the third period of Game 1.

After getting shut out in their previous game and managing just one goal in the game before that.

In their last nine periods of playoff hockey, the B's have now been shut out in seven of them.

Cam Neely once told his coach and the rest of us that the object of the game isn't to win 0-0. Unfortunately, it feels to me like Claude Julien and the B's still embrace that philosophy. Their idea of a "perfect" playoff game now seems to be a 1-0 or 2-1 final.

And the worst part is, you all buy it.

I don't know why. Don't you understand how few of those games the Bruins have actually won this postseason? Game 7 of the Tampa series was the aberration, folks. Haven't you been watching?

This is not an opinion. It's a fact.

When the Bruins have scored two goals or less these playoffs, they are 3-6. When they've scored three or more they are 9-2.

To repeat: The Bruins' chances of winning are three times greater when they manage three goals or more. They've now played 20 postseason games, and they've won just three times while scoring two goals or fewer. Yet you still believe the 2-1 game is the B's best chance to win.

Why? I sincerely don't get it.

Maybe we've just been beaten into submission by Julien's system, but the fact remains: You can't win a championship on scheme, structure and goaltending alone. Those things can win you regular-season games in droves and will even get you through some rounds in the playoffs. But they aren't the sole ingredients of championships. At some point, you have to put the puck in the net.

You have to have players who can do it, primarily, but you also need a system that gives those players the ice time and the freedom to do their thing.

This was my No. 1 question with the B's heading into the playoffs, and if they come up short in this series, it will be the No. 1 reason why.

Offense.

Both the players who are capable of doing it and the system that allows them to do it.

Why have you forgotten? It's what brought the B's back against the Canadiens. Down 2-0 heading up to Montreal, the B's scored four goals in Game 3 and five more in Game 4 to crawl back into that series. Then they went to Philadelphia in the second round and put seven goals on the board in Game 1. They wound up scoring 20 goals in that four-game sweep, an average of five per. Then against Tampa, they exploded for six goals in Game 2 to even that series and change the approach of the Lightning thereafter.

Now the B's are back to the point where two goals seems like an offensive explosion -- and it's killing them.

It's putting too much pressure on Tim Thomas and Zdeno Chara, and as Saturday night showed, both are human. Two of the three goals Thomas let up were bad. Chara has, for some reason, looked gassed in the third periods of these games. He didn't crack 30 minutes of ice time in either, but his play has steadily declined nevertheless.

Neither are to be blamed for the defeat. Instead, I blame the approach that forces them to pitch shutouts every night. They're not capable of it. No one is.

Now I hear that the B's need more toughness for Game 3 and that Shawn Thornton should be activated. Great. Let's throw him over the boards until he clocks Maxim Lapierre. It will make us all feel better, no doubt about it.

But how does that address the scoreboard? The B's need roof shots, not head shots.

Look, all the things Julien talked about after Game 2 are important. The B's can't turn the puck over in the neutral zone. They have to be better coming out of their own end. Thomas certainly can, and will, play better.

But maybe it's time for Neely to once again remind Julien about the other part of the game. The B's have to start scoring. David Krejci (averaging over a point a game since the Montreal series) has to get over 20 minutes of ice a night -- at least. So does Patrice Bergeron, who also has to start taking more chances offensively (he's just 0-2-2 in his last five). The defense has to get involved. When someone like Rich Peverley has Roberto Luongo dead to right, as he did in the third period Saturday, he has to bury the puck, not clang it off the post. Tyler Seguin, who played less than 10 minutes in each of the first two games, is still sitting there. Recchi, despite his flukey goal, still isn't helping.

Above all, there has to be a realization that going up by a score of 2-1 in the second period of a Stanley Cup Finals game isn't good enough.

There has to be an acknowledgement that low scoring games actually might favor the Canucks. They are 5-3 this postseason when scoring two goals or fewer.

If the B's try and win the series that way they're toast. Three goals seems to be the magic number. Against the Canucks, maybe it will be four. Whatever it is, the B's have to do everything they can to get there.

Maybe we'll find out at the end of the day that the B's just don't have the talent up front to score as much as they need to. That part we can accept, I think.

What we shouldn't accept is an approach that doesn't seem to recognize the facts.

Zero-to-zero isn't working.

And neither is 2-1.

E-mail Felger HERE for the mailbag, which will run on Fridays through the Finals. Listen to him on the radio weekdays, 2-6 p.m., on 98.5 the Sports Hub.

Morning Skate: What does trading a first-rounder get you now?

Morning Skate: What does trading a first-rounder get you now?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading, while wishing that Gordon Hayward and Paul George were already in Boston, like, yesterday.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Elliotte Freidman gives his 30 thoughts for the week, including the trade value of a first-round pick right now.

*It could that non-unrestricted free agents steal all of the thunder on July 1 with massive contract extensions a la Connor McDavid.

*PHT writer James O’Brien has the Detroit Red Wings taking potential fliers on a number of veteran D-men that are out on the free market.

*With free agency right around the corner, the legendary Stan Fischler details the sad end to Bobby Orr’s career in Boston, where he was lied to about the offer extended to him and ended up playing things out with the Chicago Blackhawks in a way that it shouldn’t have gone. The sight of Orr in a Blackhawks sweater is one of the real all-time NHL oddities out there.

*The NCAA is eying college hockey expansion in NHL markets, including the University of Illinois and Pitt, and, from what I’ve been told, perhaps UNLV and maybe even Vanderbilt. This is a great thing for amateur hockey players and anybody that can’t get enough of the game.  

*Ex-Senators defenseman Marc Methot holds no ill will toward the Sens after being dealt from Vegas to the Dallas Stars following his selection in the expansion draft.

*Josh Ho-Sang shares his wisdom to Islanders prospects as a 21-year-old somebody that’s gone through the ups and downs of being in their shoes.

*As we referenced above, Connor McDavid is closing in on a massive contract extension with the Edmonton Oilers that will probably make him the highest paid player in the NHL.

*For something completely different: My heart goes out to this Roslindale family fighting through a situation with a child who has a life-threatening disorder. They have a Go-Fund-Me page, so please give if you can.

 

Bruins sign restricted free agent Acciari to two-year deal

Bruins sign restricted free agent Acciari to two-year deal

The Bruins have locked up a potential fourth-line piece for next season at a bargain basement price.

The B's signed Rhode Island native and Providence College alum Noel Acciari, a restricted free agent, to a two-year deal worth $1.45 million, a contract that breaks down to a very affordable $725,000 cap hit for each of the next two seasons. The 5-foot-11, 205-pound bowling ball of a forward finished with two goals and five points in 29 games for the Bruins last season, and has appeared in 48 games at the NHL level over the last two seasons in Boston. It was also encouraging that Acciari seemed to be tapping a bit more into his offense toward the end of the season, and was building some confidence for whatever modest offense he’ll end up bringing to the NHL table once he’s reached his potential ceiling as a player.

Clearly the two-year, one-way deal portends that Acciari, 25, will be counted on as a high energy, hard-hitting fourth-line player who does a good job of aggravating opponents while playing at full tilt. The real question is whether his body can hold up with his maximum effort style of playing, and whether he can avoid serious injuries with some of the car-crash level of violence he puts in his hitting.

Acciari has battled several different injuries over the last couple of seasons, but managed to be healthy enough to log time in the playoffs for both Boston and the P-Bruins.

Either way it’s a low-risk, affordable contract for the Bruins for a young player who, if healthy, will be a large piece on their fourth line as a diligent worker and excellent teammate. So that’s a good proactive signing for Don Sweeney as he continues to work on a more complicated contract for a higher profile player like David Pastrnak.