A nearly full TD Garden doused with Black and Gold sweaters has been one of the greatest visuals in recent memory.
We forgot just what sights, sounds, and raw emotion accompany the intensity of playoff hockey because of everything going on in the world over the last 15 months. But now, some sort of normalcy has returned. That normalcy is the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The B’s were able to get through the Washington Capitals in the opening round, which turned out to be a grueling series. Presently, Boston is in the midst of a second-round series with the New York Islanders, a team that they posted a 3-3-2 record against in the regular season.
Through two games, the series is tied 1-1. In Game 2, the Bruins were down two goals heading into the final 20 minutes. With tallies from Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, they were able to tie the game and send things into overtime.
However, a costly turnover and a breakaway gave the Isles the victory, as well as momentum with the series shifting to New York later this week.
As of this writing, the scapegoat for the loss—at least in the eyes of the fans—is Jeremy Lauzon.
While the Bruins had possession of the puck in the offensive zone, Lauzon attempted a pass across the blue line to his defensive partner. The puck bounced off the skate of Charlie Coyle and into the neutral zone. From there, Casey Cizikas zipped down the rink and beat Tuukka Rask for the game winner.
That is a tough one to swallow.
B’s head coach Bruce Cassidy said after the game that the play was “ill-advised,” and that Lauzon needed to do a better job of surveying the ice before making any decisions.
The 24-year-old is only in his second foray into the Stanley Cup playoffs and was thrusted into the opening lineup to begin the regular season. He had impressed last year as well as in training camp, so it was time for him to earn this spot and assume some more responsibility. Up until this point, he has done a solid job.
Marchand was quick to come to Lauzon’s aid after the game: “He’s a great player for us, he competes very hard, and is out there every night working his butt off. We all make mistakes. It’s not the end of the world, we just have to worry about the next one.”
Lauzon will continue to get better, but the stats are not really in his favor at the moment. Lauzon has now been on the ice for a defensive-high seven goals against this postseason. He has also logged the second-lowest total time on ice (58:57) among the entire Boston defensive core. To top it all off, out of 100 defensemen who have played over 30 even-strength minutes in the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs, Lauzon ranks 100th with a 5.91 on-ice goals against average per 60 minutes.
Essentially, he is being portrayed as the worst defenseman in the National Hockey League right now. It is funny because no one would be saying this if the Bruins ended up winning Game 2.
The finger has to be pointed at someone. The blame needs to go around. Understandable. But after one mistake, the kid is being ridiculed. He was good enough to start the year as one of the top six, so why should he not be able to finish it? He is good enough to do so.
The best thing for Lauzon’s confidence at this point is to get right back in there and play Game 3. Benching him would not be wise. He should be getting more ice time and correct the facets of his game that need to be corrected. His teammates are behind him and they trust him to do the job.
Lauzon has earned the right to be in there to see this through. Give him a break.