Felger: Bruins need to ratchet up their attack


Felger: Bruins need to ratchet up their attack

By Michael Felger

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.


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.

Thursday, Oct. 27: Chara top D-man on All-Graybeard team


Thursday, Oct. 27: Chara top D-man on All-Graybeard team

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while saying RIP Vine but not really feeling it since it’s a rabbit hole I never really delved down into. 

*Down Goes Brown celebrates the “NHL’s old guys”, and yes, that means a gratuitous shout out to Zdeno Chara as the top defenseman on the All-Graybeard squad. 

*Hampus Lindholm has signed a long term deal with the Anaheim Ducks, so now that deal leaves everybody to wonder who is leaving the Anaheim roster in the eventual salary cap crunch. It will be interesting to see if this hastens any Cam Fowler trade talk as far as the Bruins are concerned because it looks like they need the help.  

*Pro Hockey Talk has the Oilers off to their best start since the Wayne Gretzky Era and people in Edmonton finally getting to see the hockey they’ve been waiting for over the past few years. 

*In honor of the Halloween season that we’re in, here are a few cool and scary goalie masks with a bit of spooky flair. 

*Arizona Coyotes GM John Chayka is confident that his young team is going to rebound after a rough start to the season. 

*Speaking of creative uniforms, it’s a most wonderful time of the year for hockey when they bust out their Oktoberfest sweaters. 

*For something completely different: this matchup of Peanuts and Stranger Things hits all the right notes for fans of both. 


Goalie update: Tuukka Rask dealing with hamstring AND groin injury?


Goalie update: Tuukka Rask dealing with hamstring AND groin injury?

While the good news is that it doesn’t appear that Tuukka Rask is dealing with a knee injury, there are still some significant muscular issues to work with concerning his left leg. 

According to former Bruins defenseman and NHL analyst Aaron Ward on CSN’s Great American Hockey Show podcast, the Bruins franchise goaltender has been dealing with a hamstring issue that’s also become a hamstring and groin issue as he tried to play through in the first week of the season. Rask clearly tweaked something in his left leg opening night against the Columbus Blue Jackets, missed the Saturday night loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs and then appeared to aggravate the injury in last week’s win over the New Jersey Devils. 

According to Ward, it’s hamstring and groin issues for Rask as the Bruins attempt to survive without him while potentially working toward a possible return for the Finnish netminder this weekend vs. the Red Wings. Rask hasn’t skated with the Bruins since finishing out the 2-1 win over the Devils last Thursday night, and tweaking the problematic left leg in the process. 

“What I was told is that it was left leg, and that at first it was hamstring and now it’s possibly hamstring and groin,” said Ward to CSN Bruins Insider Joe Haggerty on the Great American Hockey Show podcast. “You’re always concerned when you’re a goalie and it’s your legs, right? It’s the push-off. The crazy part was watching it on video where the shoot came from the left side and went wide, and the next time he injures it shot comes from the same spot, misses it wide and [Rask] is in the exact same position wincing.

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“I think [the Bruins] are smart rather than trying to play a guy that’s 90, 80 or 70 percent, whatever it is, to just get it over with. Endure the short term pain to get the greater gain, and that’s having Rask in there. There’s no greater endorsement to keep him out than seeing the [bad losses without him] because you need a healthy Tuukka to let the rest of the team settle.”

It’s been disastrous without Rask, of course, as the Bruins have allowed 11 goals in back-to-back losses to the Wild and Rangers with rookies Malcolm Subban and Zane McIntyre between the pipes, and Anton Khudobin out for three weeks while sporting a cast on his right hand in the last B’s game at TD Garden. 

Meanwhile, Rask (3-0-0, 1.67 goals-against average and a .947 save percentage) is trying to heal and time it perfectly so he returns once he’s past the danger of potentially blowing out the muscles in his left leg and making the situation even worse than it already might be. 

Ward also discusses his relationship with "Toucher & Rich" and the "Cuts for a Cause" charitable event that he helped start.