Bruins

Fluto Shinzawa says Bruins top lines ‘too good’ to repeat Game 1 struggles

The Athletic's Bruins beat writer pointed to Boston's play coming into the postseason as reason for hope after Saturday's overtime loss.

Bruins Stanley Cup Playoffs
The Bruins celebrate a goal by Jake DeBrusk during Game 1 last Saturday. Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

The Bruins’ 3-2 overtime loss to the Capitals on Saturday has put a lot of eyes back on goaltender Tuukka Rask after the game-winning goal trickled between his legs in the extra period.

But Rask isn’t the only Bruins star who struggled to make an impact in the loss, with the team’s top lines failing to break through against Washington in Game 1 of the best-of-seven series.

Bruins beat writer Fluto Shinzawa of The Athletic says those issues should not be overlooked heading into Game 2.

“Not good enough from Bergeron, Marchand, and Pastrnak,” he said of the Bruins’ top-line players, pointing out that Bergeron registered no official shots on goal in the game.

He also highlighted Pastrnak’s play as the latest example of a “peaks and valleys” season: “For whatever reason, he’s fumbling pucks, he’s just not as crisp as he has in years past.

But Shinzawa also said there’s no reason to expect prolonged struggles out of Boston’s premier players in Game 2 and beyond.

“You don’t really have an issue going into Game 2 because you know they’re too good to sustain struggles consistently over a playoff series. So yes, I expect that line to be better,” he explained.

The veteran beat writer also says he expects better play out of the second line of David Krejci, Taylor Hall, and Craig Smith, pointing out that Hall and Smith each had good moments in Game 1.

“The trend lines you’ve seen going into the playoffs, those first two lines were dynamite going in at the end of the regular season and then not good enough in Game 1. So yes, they need to be better in Game 2,” he said.

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Shinzawa further said he found “zero fault” with Rask’s play in Game 1, noting that all three Capitals goals were re-directed off of sticks — something Rask himself noted after the game.

But he did say the Bruins “have all the confidence in the world” in backup goaltender Jeremy Swayman to take over if Rask has a rough Game 2 or struggles later in the series.

Though Shinzawa didn’t claim a switch was imminent and noted the 22-year-old Swayman’s lack of experience, he said the young net-minder’s emergence means Rask may have a shorter leash than in years past.

“I think we’ve all seen, based on the eye test and based on the numbers, that the kid is legit,” he said. “You don’t know until you see that kind of playoff experience — maybe it goes sideways on the guy. But there has no zero signals that he’d shown that he would wilt in any kind of situation.”

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