BOSTON — The Bruins are home, up 3-1 in their best-of-seven series and are coming off of a dramatic overtime win on the road. If that sounds familiar, that’s because the B’s were in the same exact position just one year ago.
The Bruins will play Game 5 against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday afternoon at TD Garden, and Boston will attempt to finish the series and advance to the second round. They were in the same situation — coming off an overtime win and all — last year against Toronto. The Maple Leafs stormed back to win Games 5 and 6 and had a three-goal lead in Game 7 before a historic collapse allowed the B’s to escape the near-upset.
Claude Julien’s bunch needs to learn from that experience and have that in their minds when the puck drops on Saturday at the Garden.
“We can learn a lot from last year,” the Bruins coach admitted Friday. “You can look at it whichever way you want. It doesn’t mean that just because it happened before that it has to be the same thing. There are different situations all the time. We have yet to lose respect for that team we’re playing against.”
Closing out the Red Wings as soon as possible is certainly important and would be a nice change for team that’s first-round series has gone to overtime in Game 7 the last three seasons. The Montreal Canadiens await the winner of the Boston-Detroit series. The Habs are resting up and hoping the two teams beat on each other for as long as possible. Winning Saturday would not only get the Bruins into the second round, but it would afford them valuable time to rest. It would also allow Boston healing time for players like Daniel Paille and Chris Kelly, who have yet to make their series debuts.
Finishing off the series in a prompt manner is important, but the Bruins also know they can’t get caught looking ahead. That’s a surefire way to extend this series, which is the last thing they want to do.
“You get these opportunities, and it’s sometimes more of a mental challenge than a physical challenge,” goalie Tuukka Rask explained. “You start thinking about the end score of the game before the game even starts, and you kind of feel and hope that you get to do that. I think we’ve learned over the years that it doesn’t help us.”
The biggest key to making sure the Red Wings don’t get back into the series may just come in the first 20 minutes of Game 5. A fast start could go a long way in crushing Detroit’s resolve, which would obviously make for a much easier afternoon. The Bruins saw on Thursday night how tough the Wings can be in their home building, and Boston is hoping it won’t have to return to Joe Louis Arena until next season.
“There’s a respect factor that we’ve gotta be really good (Saturday) if we want to end the series,” Julien added. “If not, we’re going back to their building and that’s something we would prefer not to do.”