BOSTON – After a heartbreaking 5-3 loss against the Lightning in Game 4 down in Tampa – one where they blew a 3-0 lead after the first period – the Bruins hope to turn the page and focus on Game 5 Monday night with the series tied at two games apiece.
When faced with adversity, the Black and Gold have often responded well during the course of the postseason. After trailing 2-0 to the Montreal Canadiens in the first round, the Bruins stole two victories at the Bell Centre and carried that momentum to defeat their arch rivals in seven games. Even after their Game 1 loss to the Bolts, the Bruins turned the page thanks to Tyler Seguin’s four-point night as they evened the series in Game 2 this past Tuesday.
Fans and media alike started to draw similarities to how this is the “same old Bruins team” after the loss against Tampa on Saturday, especially after their inability to hold a 3-0 lead as seen against the Flyers in Game 7 last season. That statement could prove true if the Bruins lose the series and they can look back to that loss in Game 4 as the turning point of the series.
However, the Bruins are looking forward to the challenge of getting the momentum back in the series and positioning themselves one step closer their present goal Monday night in Game 5; A chance to play for the Stanley Cup finals.
That message about putting the events in the past was echoed again in the Bruins locker room on Sunday.
“We just have to turn the page,” the 19-year-old Seguin said. “Obviously we had a 3-0 lead [in Game 4] and we let them back in it and they [the Lightning] came back and won the game. So we have to turn the page and not dwell on last night and focus on tomorrow’s game.”
“I think we need to move forward,” added forward Brad Marchand. “There are positives and negatives about that game. We need to take the positives and build off that and learn from the negatives and we just need to be ready for the next game.”
The inconsistent trio
Though the Bruins have the right frame in mind going forward, it is all about execution at the end of the day. And though they have had some positives during the series, their negatives have also been seen.
For one – in the two losses – they haven’t been able to use all four lines effectively, especially the top line of Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Nathan Horton in Game 4 (coming off a solid performance in Game 3). While the trio has had some good moments during the playoffs – Horton with his two overtime winners and Krejci with his performance in the Philly series – they have also been shut down in the majority of the Bruins’ losses this postseason.
As seen in his Game 4 column on Sunday’s edition of The Boston Globe, legendary hockey writer Kevin Paul Dupont suggested, among many things, that head coach Claude Julien break up the trio and put Patrice Bergeron — who has been by far and away the Bruins’ best forward — on the top line. As seen often, Julien doesn’t believe in a major shakeup or roster tweaks and the same can be said about the top line.
“They’ve been a great line for us all year,” said the Bruins bench boss. “And there’s no doubt that in the playoffs sometimes there’s a little more at stake, so you’re looking at that line closer than you normally would and those fine details and the expectations are looked upon a little closer.
“We expect them to be a great line for us every night, so do they. Whether that happens or not is another thing. But what we want to see from them is trying to be the best they can every night, and that’s what we’re hoping they’re going to be tomorrow.”
In the first two series, Vezina Trophy favorite Tim Thomas had proven why he’s been the best goaltender in the NHL this season. The 37-year-old had moments where he was standing on his head – as seen in Game 2 against Philly last series – and has made some clutch saves in crucial moments, like his save against Brian Gionta in Game 5 versus Montreal.
So far against Tampa, however, Thomas has had his struggles. Despite his shutout in Game 3, Thomas has given up 15 goals in four games and his blunder in Game 4 led to Bolts forward Teddy Purcell’s tally at 6:55 of the second period, which ultimately proved to be a momentum killer for the Bruins.
After the loss Saturday, Thomas made a bold statement guaranteeing that the Bruins will win the series in six or seven games.
“We’re going to win,” he said. “I don’t know how it’s going to be at any one point in time or any one game, but what’s important is we come back in Game 5 and win that game.”
Perhaps this is what the doctor ordered for Thomas. And perhaps this is what the doctor ordered for the Bruins going into Game 5.
And given Thomas’ compete level – as Julien often states – it is no surprise that he would make those remarks as stated by his teammates.
“Well that’s Timmy. He’s a confident goaltender,” Lucic said. “He’s been our MVP since day one here. He’s been our best player and he’s been our best player in the playoffs thus far. Being the goaltender, he has a lot of control of what happens and as a player and his teammate you want to do whatever you can to prove him right.”