Remember when the Boston Bruins claimed they could just “flip the switch” in the playoffs after such a frustrating regular season, and the fans just laughed? Then the Bruins flipped said switch with a vengeance against the Toronto Maple Leafs in game one of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, causing them to have a laugh of their own? Good times.
Well, after a ho-hum effort in game two Boston better hope that switch was easy to find, because they need to flip it like there’s no tomorrow.
Boston’s regular season was filled with plenty of eyesores hardly meeting the definition of “Bruins hockey.” Incredibly suspect play from a once heralded defense, sloppy penalty kills down the stretch, and what seemed like absolutely zero ability to maintain a lead. It was really hard to blame fans for assuming it’d be a quick exit from this year’s playoffs if this was the effort Boston was going to give.
And then, out of nowhere, something changed in game two. After allowing a Toronto power play goal within minutes of the puck drop, the Bruins erupted for four unanswered goals on their way to an absolute battering of the Maple Leafs. It was as if Boston baited every cynic into thinking the team would be forever lackluster only to leave everyone stunned beyond belief with a style of play that reminded everyone of the Cup winning effort in 2011.
The mood changed. Suddenly, Bostonians were picturing a four game sweep of the lowly Leafs and gearing up for a possible date with the mighty Pittsburgh Penguins. But alas, deja vu struck in game two.
Toronto hit back against the Bruins, spending most of the game chopping down the redwood on skates that is defenseman Zdeno Chara on their way to a 4-2 victory. Boston looked surprised, but not as surprised as the packed house at the TD Garden.
Where was the fight the Bruins showed in game one? What happened to firing on all cylinders and putting a nightmare-inducing 40 shots on Toronto goalie James Reimer? Did the “big, bad” Bruins go back into hibernation thinking they could sleepwalk their way through the series after just one win?
If this was indeed the case, Toronto is getting the last laugh. After tying the series 1-1, the Maple Leafs now head back home to a city that hasn’t seen playoff hockey since the first term of the George W. Bush administration. You think the atmosphere will be notable?
The Bruins have been in this position before. After falling into an 0-2 hole against the rival Montreal Canadiens in 2011, the Bruins went into the hockey haven that is the Bell Centre to steal two games and even the series. Going into a rival barn with a series tied 1-1 shouldn’t seem nearly as daunting.
However, it sure will be if the Bruins from game two are the ones who made the trip.
If Boston plays the way they did in game 1, they can easily make Toronto’s playoff homecoming a miserable one. If the game two style of play is put out on the ice, the Bruins could be returning to Boston down 3-1 while Maple Leafs fans start planning their Cup parade route.
The Air Canada Centre will be deafening tonight for game three. The Bruins need to strike first and strike often. Nothing gets into a home team’s head like deflated fans. Just ask Boston after game two.
Boston said they could flip the switch come playoff time, and in game one they did just that. Now, heading into Toronto with a tied series, the Bruins need to hope the switch didn’t get stuck in customs.