Hockey is a team game, and in order to win in the playoffs, you need a complete effort. To go along with that complete effort, you always need your best players to be just that.
Heading into Game 5, the Ottawa Senators have gotten more than enough from their best players. The Bruins, well not so much.
Looking at the Bruins’ keys entering the series, getting production from Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak was atop the list.
The same was said for the Senators with Bobby Ryan and Erik Karlsson.
Ryan and Karlsson have by far been the two best players on the ice with 10 points between the two so far. Karlsson and Ryan have now connected on the game-winning goal in the last two Senators victories.
After his lowest point total since his rookie season, Ryan is making up for his poor campaign by being the best forward on the ice. Ryan’s captain has taken notice.
“Every game he’s been there battling hard. He’s going to the right areas, he’s strong on the pucks and he has poise with it when we need him to,” Karlsson said of Ryan’s play in the series so far. “He plays really well defensively as well and that’s what creates all this offense. And you know, he’s really good around the net and he’s just proving that right now. He’s one of those people that we’ve been relying a lot on.”
On the Bruins side of things, outside of Tuukka Rask, their top players have been non-existent, more specifically Marchand and Pastrnak.
After stealing the win for the Bruins in Game 1, Rask was solid in Game 2 and 3 before being the Bruins’ best in Game 4. Rask did more than enough to earn a win Wednesday in Game 4, but the Bruins couldn’t find an answer for Craig Anderson.
“Yeah, no, I mean, he keeps us in every game,” rookie Charlie McAvoy said about his goaltender. “He’s an unbelievable goaltender; he leads us on the back end, so you’ve got to give him credit. He’s been unbelievable all series.”
Out of the gate in Game 4, it looked like Wednesday would be Marchand’s coming out party as the Bruins’ regular season leading scoring had a game-high four first period shots. But in a second and third period that saw the Bruins register just five shots in each frame, Marchand had just two shots during that span. Those two came in the game’s final minute off of rebound attempts.
Marchand also had two breakaways in the contest, but Senators’ goalie Craig Anderson shut the door on both attempts. Marchand has just one point in the series, which came on his game-winning goal in Game 1.
Pastrnak leads the team in playoff points with three, but playing in his first NHL playoff series, the 2014 first round pick has not been anything close to what he was during the regular season. He had a game-high four missed shots Wednesday night, all while failing to put a single shot on goal.
“There are some guys that are just missing the net more often and it doesn’t allow you to get those second chances and stay inside and get those second chances,” interim head coach Bruce Cassidy said during his postgame press conference.
Now with their backs against the wall and facing elimination for the first time in the series, the Bruins will need Marchand and Pastrnak to be at their best and hope the rest of the team can follow suit.
“We just have to worry about the next game. It’s obviously a must-win. We have to be big, but we have to take it one game at a time from here,” said Marchand.
“Again, this team has been on both sides of it where teams have come back from 3-0 deficits and we’ve come back as well from 2- and 3-game deficits. So, we have to just worry about the next game and regroup and have a good one in Ottawa.”