The Boston Bruins have dug themselves a hole, one they must win three straight games against a tough Tampa Bay Lightning team in order to move on to the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Bruins dropped Game 4 by a score of 3-1 to fall behind three games to one in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
It will be no easy task to beat a physical Tampa team in three consecutive matchups. And Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk knows there’s only way to survive the rest of the series.
“The biggest change that we need to make, you look at some of the goals that happened in this series, obviously you have to give them credit, they’ve been burying them,” DeBrusk said during his Zoom postgame press conference. “But we have to execute with the puck. We’ve been playing their game. We played their game the last three and this is the result you’re going to get when you play against a team like that and their style. Our only chance is if we play our game and stick with it.”
And even though the Black and Gold must stave off elimination Monday night, the team’s mindset is what it’s been all year.
“Obviously, it’s not where we want to be,” DeBrusk said. “Backs against the wall and I think the mindset that we preach throughout the year, it’s perfect for this time, is just focus on the next shift. Focus on the next shift and win your battles. Beat the guy across from you. It’s obviously tough being in this kind of environment and in this kind of hole. But that’s how you become a champion.”
Monday will be do-or-die for Boston, and all eyes will be on its approach once the puck drops for Game 5.
Here are some other notes from Saturday’s Bruins-Lightning game:
— The Bruins’ power play was nearly lifeless, save for DeBrusk’s tally in the third period.
But head coach Bruce Cassidy thought his team did a much better job at creating chances.
“I felt our offense in terms of creating was much better,” Cassidy said during his Zoom postgame press conference. “I think the shot total, listen there’s all these different types of analytics we’ll look at them after, now I’m going to bet they’re going to be a lot more on the positive side than they were in game three and maybe even you know the previous games, I’m not sure. But I thought we deserved a better fate in terms of what we created. As I said if you’re going to be off net you’re not going to score, and that was our problem tonight, with some good looks we were off net. Obviously, he made some saves, he always does, solid goaltender, so I thought our creation of offense, getting through the neutral zone, getting towards the good ice, all of that was there, just the finish wasn’t.”
— David Krejci’s second line has fizzled out a bit in this series, but had a solid third period. Krejci, though, is focused on Game 5.
“I’m not really going to build on anything today,” he said. “It’s re-group and get ready for next game.”
— The Bruins have not faced elimination yet during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but Charlie Coyle knows the B’s still need to take the series “one game at a time.”
“It’s all a mentality,” he said. “As Krech said, we have to regroup and focus on one game at a time. People have been in worse situations and come out on top. We just have to take it this one, one game at a time. Focus on that next game. That is all we can control right now. Come back and the mindset is to play a better game. There are some things we can work on and look at, some video. But just the mindset to focus on that next one and get a win.”
— Nick Ritchie was called for boarding on a hit to Yanni Gourde that resulted in a five-minute major.
And Cassidy believes it was just a “hard hit.”
“No, there was no call. He’s finishing a check, it happens all the time,” Cassidy said. “He played through a player’s shoulder as I saw it. Shoulder to shoulder hard. I don’t know if the explanation was it was late or it was a 225-pound man hits a 170-pound man and that’s why the penalty is called. Like I said, I thought (Cedric) Paquette did the same thing if not worse to (Karson) Kuhlman in the first period. The standard is set, that’s what officials do, they set the standard and the players adjust to it and adapt to it game in and game out. So no, I thought he did a good job, that’s what he’s asked to do, be hard on people, stick up for your teammates, go to the net, score dirty goals, make plays off the wall, all those things. So that hit was part of the job description and he did it. They reversed the call and at the end of the day, it went against us. We want Ritch to be physical, not reckless, and that’s what we thought it was, but it didn’t work out that way.”
— Game 5 is set for Monday at 7 p.m. ET.