When you get your doors blown off like the Bruins did in Wednesday's Game 7 loss to the Blues, there's no one play that singlehandedly costs you the game.
But the mistake Brad Marchand made on St. Louis' second goal sure felt like quite the backbreaker.
The Bruins had dominated most of the first period, outshooting the Blues 12-4 in the frame. Yet they found themselves trailing 1-0 as the period wound down thanks to a handful of high-quality saves from Jordan Binnington and a nice deflection by Ryan O'Reilly to beat Tuukka Rask on one of St. Louis' few chances.
Still, it felt like the B's would be in pretty good shape if they got to intermission with it just a one-goal game. Then disaster struck.
With less than 15 seconds left in the period, David Pastrnak committed a sloppy turnover in the offensive zone. Marchand was back at the point covering for a pinching Matt Grzelcyk, but despite the turnover and despite the positional rotation, the B's still had numbers back and should've been able to handle the turn up ice.
Instead, as the puck popped out into the neutral zone, Marchand got caught between playing the puck and changing off, as he had been on the ice for just about a full minute.
Once Jaden Schwartz picked up the puck, Marchand stayed on. He tried to step up to make a hit on Schwartz and break up the rush, but Schwartz chipped the puck off the boards and stepped around him to retrieve it.
Not great, but with Charlie McAvoy closing in to pick up Schwartz in the corner, the situation was still salvageable. Except then Marchand compounded his misplay with a brutal mental lapse. Instead of picking up defenseman Alex Pietrangelo as he jumped into the rush, Marchand skated past him to the bench to make the change he had wanted to make seconds earlier.
That left Pietrangelo wide open. Schwartz made the short pass to him and Pietrangelo walked through the slot and flipped a backhander past Rask to make it 2-0 with just eight seconds remaining in the period.
Had this happened at some point earlier in the period, you might be a little more understanding of Marchand going for the change. It still isn't ideal, but guys are pretty tired by the end of a long shift. But with 10 seconds left in the period, and in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, you need him to find a little extra in the tank and stay on to finish the play.
Marchand didn't have much to say about the play after the game, but it sounds like he misread the numbers of Blues vs. Bruins in that end of the ice.
"I don't know, they chipped it in. I thought that guy was by himself, so I went for a change, and a couple more guys jumped up on the play," he said. "I didn't see the replay, but yeah."
Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy wasn't about to throw anyone under the bus after the game -- in fact he stressed that no one played their best Wednesday night, which is accurate. But he did say that he felt things could've gone differently had it just been 1-0 after one.
"Probably a different game if it's 1-0 coming out of the first, I do believe that," Cassidy said. "I'm not saying that we would have won or we would have lost, I'm not a mind reader, but I do believe that it gave them a lot of juice for a period that they, you know if they looked at it objectively, probably felt or should have felt that they got outplayed. But they're up 2-0 on the scoreboard and that's all that matters."
Again, one play isn't the reason the Bruins lost Game 7. There's plenty of blame to go around, and it's tough to win when you don't score a goal until there's just 2:10 remaining in a game that had already turned into a blowout.
But that play does feel like the one that will define this game from the Bruins' perspective -- the Example A of them just not making that extra effort you need to win Game 7 of a Stanley Cup Final.
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