Are we really watching this team once again follow up a lopsided win with an incredibly, albeit inexplicably lazy performance? Is this what we’re going to see from the Bruins for the rest of the postseason, which will certainly be short with this style of play?
You couldn’t blame the fans for thinking so negatively. This is all they saw during Boston’s regular season so why should they assume anything would change?
Then, well, everything did change.
The Bruins came out in the second period of Game 4 and erased Toronto’s hard fought two goal lead in the blink of an eye. A back-and-forth battle eventually went into overtime, where David Krejci, he of the all-world five goals and five assists in four games, scored a game-winner that brought hats to the ice and Leafs fans to the exits.
It was the first time Boston won back-to-back games in nearly a month, and one has to hope this momentum helps the Bruins finish out Toronto tonight in Game 5.
Carrying a 3-1 series lead back home to the TD Garden, the Bruins can ill-afford to give the Maple Leafs any sign of hope. Boston has to shut the door tonight.
The reasoning is pretty simple. Toronto, with a roster chock-full of players taking part in their first playoff games ever, is looking better as this series goes on. They came out guns-a-blazing in Game 4, and Boston looked a little shell-shocked in the first period as a result. Now, with their playoff lives on the line, it’s tough to believe the Maple Leafs won’t come out anything less than furious. Their backs are against the wall, and it’s safe to assume this will be evident the second the puck hits the ice.
If the Leafs win tonight, the Bruins will still have a 3-2 advantage in the series. However, having to go back to Toronto after a Maple Leafs win to a building that will welcome another playoff game with open arms is a situation Boston needs to avoid. Blowing a 3-1 lead isn’t inconceivable, and it’s highly doubtful there’s another roster in sports that knows this better than Boston’s. They’ve blown worse.
The Bruins need to show the NHL that their time of half-heartedly loafing around in the regular season is over. The best way to do this is to eliminate the scrappy Maple Leafs, preferably convincingly.
Don’t leave Tuukka Rask out to dry assuming he’ll stand on his head again. Don’t grab a one goal lead and pump the brakes on any sort of offense. And, most importantly, don’t assume the Leafs are rattled and making peace with an inevitable demise.
Boston must one-up any sort of pressure and energy the Leafs bring. Toronto will play like any other team does when they’re looking the offseason in the eye. If this somehow catches the Bruins off guard, it could be a rough night in Boston.
If, however, the Bruins go punch-for-punch with Toronto, if they continue to play physical and bruising hockey, the Leafs will eventually wilt.
Come puck drop tonight, we’ll find out who the real Bruins are. If they finish off Toronto, this reveal might be an unpleasant one for the remaining playoff teams.