Bruins Expected a Tough Battle from Capitals, But Also Expect a Lot More Out of Themselves

Bruins Expected a Tough Battle from Capitals, But Also Expect a Lot More Out of ThemselvesBOSTON — The Bruins and Capitals each have managed just seven goals in the first four games of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal.

That would barely cover a period's worth of goals in the wild and wacky series between Keystone State rivals Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, but the tight-checking defensive struggle being waged by Boston and Washington is more representative of the way playoff hockey is usually played.

Nothing comes easy in the postseason, and the Bruins never expected anything but a hard-fought, bitter battle with the Capitals.

"They're a very good team over there and they're playing very good hockey," Bruins forward Brad Marchand said. "I don't know if people expect us to walk over them or something, but we're in a very tough stage here right now. We had a lot of shots [Thursday] night, but they're not giving us a lot of chances. It's a battle and we know that. That's what the playoffs are all about and we just have to keep going."

The Bruins did have a lot of shots in Game 4. They finished with 45, which looks impressive on the statsheet. But not nearly enough of those shots were quality scoring chances, and the Bruins know they have to do a lot more to make life difficult for Washington netminder Braden Holtby than they did in that 2-1 loss in Game 4.

"The big thing is we have to get a little more traffic in front and make things difficult for him," Marchand said. "We're making things a little too easy for him right now. He's seeing every single puck that's going at him, and if you ask any goalie that's easy for anyone to stop those shots. The big thing for us is we have to keep going at them and get more bodies in front."

There's nothing fancy or complicated about what the Bruins have to do. Fancy doesn't play well in the playoffs. Hard work and sacrifice are what matters this time of year.

"The game has to be simple anyway right now," Bruins forward Brian Rolston said. "Do you see many guys beating guys 1 on 1? Well, maybe in the Pittsburgh series, but you don't beat guys 1 on 1 in this game. You have to fight for goals. That's plain and simple. It's a straight forward thing. And that's something we have to be better at."

The Bruins need to play to their strengths, and that means making things a little nasty. They have to be careful not to go over the line and spend too much time in the penalty box, but they do need to get involved physically and emotionally to be at their best.

"I think we're best when we're playing physical and simple," Marchand said. "We do have to play that way to be at our best, but at the same time we have to worry about making plays and scoring goals as well."

To do that, the Bruins can't let their struggles in the first four games get to them, and they insist that Holtby is not in their heads after his 44-save performance. Instead, the Bruins have turned their anger inward, demanding better out of themselves in Game 5 on Saturday.

"It's not them frustrating us more than it's us frustrated at ourselves for not being able to a good job," Julien said. "So, we're working on it, we're a confident group. I mean, we've been through challenges and adversity before and we're ready to face this one as well."

They'll face it with a new look on Saturday after Claude Julien reshuffled all of the forward lines in practice on Friday.

"I think it's Claude weighing his options, and he has lots of options in this room to put guys with different players and have success," Bruins center Chris Kelly said. "That's one of our strengths, that everyone's played with everyone at some point, and they can go out there and they're very capable of doing that job."

The time has come for the Bruins to prove that capability on the ice. They didn't expect it to be easy against the Caps, but they also know they can't keep making it harder on themselves.

Have a question for Douglas Flynn? Send it to him via Twitter at @douglasflynn or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

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