If there’s been one common playoff occurrence the past few years with the Boston Bruins, its first round struggles.
They swept the Montreal Canadiens in the opening round of the 2009 playoffs, and won a tough-at-times six game series with the Buffalo Sabres in 2010. But since then, every first round for Boston has ended in the same fashion: Game 7, in overtime.
The most recent example was their epic bout with the Toronto Maple Leafs last year. After grabbing a 3-1 series lead, the Bruins took their foot off the gas, letting the Leafs tie things up and almost handing them a ticket to the next round before rallying from a 4-1 deficit in Game 7. Everyone remembers how that game ended, but it wouldn’t have even come to that had Boston taken care of business earlier in the series.
It’s especially important to note this now, as once again the Bruins are heading into Game 5 of an opening round series with a 3-1 lead. Last night’s come-from-behind overtime victory over the Detroit Red Wings should’ve theoretically given Boston all the momentum they need to close things out tomorrow afternoon. Will they finally be able to win a first round series without the need for any Game 7 drama?
One thing’s for sure, the team isn’t ignoring their recent trend. When asked about memories from past postseasons, forward Milan Lucic implied the team had no intentions of shifting into cruise control with what looks like an insurmountable lead.
“We’ve learned a lot of hard lessons in the past, like Toronto, and fortunately we were able to get out of that one and move on,” he said. “You don’t want to do anything to give the other team life in a series.”
As we all know, though, saying you’ve learned your lesson is one thing, actually proving it on the ice is another. The team showed a ton of resolve last night when overcoming a 2-0 deficit. Detroit fans were becoming boisterous, assuming a two-goal lead over a sluggish looking Bruins club would be enough to seal the deal and tie the series. However, Boston was able to flip the switch and score three unanswered, sucking the wind out of the entire building, and possibly their opponent.
Now, the Bruins come back home for a matinee Game 5 tomorrow. The Wings just saw their best effort of the series end in defeat. A date with arch-rival Montreal awaits. You’d like to think this is all the motivation Boston needs to finish things up and move on to the conference semifinals. For the second straight year, the Bruins are in a position to make quick work of their opening round opponent. We’ll see if Boston can finish the job without any unnecessary drama this time around.