The Boston Bruins know there are worse positions to be in than
tied 2-2 in the first round of the playoffs.
During their Stanley Cup championship run last year, the Bruins
dug out of a 2-0 hole in the first round against Montreal, and
rallied from down 2-0 and 3-2 down in the Cup final against
So the second-seeded Bruins aren’t panicking as they head into
Game 5 of their Eastern Conference series with the seventh-seeded
Washington Capitals on Saturday night.
”I think that we all know that we could be in a better
position. But at the same time, Washington has played really well
and, obviously, now it’s best of three,” Bruins captain Zdeno
Chara said after practice at TD Garden on Friday. ”So it’s a huge
game for us.
”I think that most of the guys in here, from last year, we know
that there is no room for getting too high or too low, or getting
frustrated or panicking. You just got to regroup and get mentally
and physically ready for the next game.”
Goals have been difficult to come by through the first four
games, with each team scoring seven times. In response to his
team’s offensive struggles, Bruins coach Claude Julien Friday
juggled all four of his lines in practice in an attempt to provide
a spark. Each line kept one pair of forwards intact from the end of
Game 4 and added a new winger.
Although only injuries caused him to make line changes during
the Bruins’ run to the Cup, Julien decided four games were as long
as he could wait to try and generate more scoring.
”We’re not getting the production that we’d like to, but having
said that, we’re doing a good job, we’re not playing a bad game,”
Julien said. ”We’re breaking out of our own end no problem, we’re
going through the neutral zone no problem, we’re getting pucks in
deep no problem.
”At the end of the day it’s just trying to resolve the
situation of capitalizing on our chances and that kind of stuff.
So, that’s the only area and they (Capitals) do a good job of
playing, sitting back and playing hard and capitalizing on their
opportunities. For us, it’s just a matter of finding that. So it’s
not them frustrating us more than it’s us frustrating ourselves for
not being able to a good job.”
Boston’s line changes might also make it more difficult for
Washington coach Dale Hunter to get the matchups he wants. In
addition to strong play from rookie goalie Braden Holtby, the
Capitals have played strong team defense to limit the Bruins’
biggest threats. The Bruins haven’t had one goal from any of their
top five point-getters from the regular season.
”It’s a team game. The defense, the forwards, and definitely
(Holtby) there, too … it’s a team game and we know they’re good
players,” Hunter said. ”We know what they can do. Just read the
stats this year – plus 30 or 40, whatever it is, they’re up there.
So they can score 5-on-5 as well as power play. So they’re
dangerous guys. So far the guys have been busting their tails. When
they do get the chance, (Holtby’s) been there.”
The Capitals managed to win Game 4 on Thursday night without top
center Nicklas Backstrom, suspended because of a match penalty at
the end of Game 3. Backstrom’s return should provide Washington
with a lift.
”Yeah, obviously, he’s our best forward. He makes the power
play go,” Washington defenseman Dennis Wideman said. ”He creates
a ton of offense. He makes a ton of plays that there’s not too many
guys in the league can see or do. Obviously, when he’s in the
lineup, we’re a lot better team.”
The better team in Game 5 will be the one that manages to grind
out enough goals in this tight series. The Bruins hope their new
forward alignment will allow them to head to Game 6 with a series
”I think last year … it’s different year to year. Last year
it worked out and this year, hopefully, this is going to spark
everyone and we’re going to come out flying next game and have a
great game,” Boston forward Brad Marchand said.