NEW YORK – It’s pretty difficult to ignore the parallels that stare the Bruins in the face.
First, there was the grueling first-round series against a Northeast Division rival that went into the overtime of Game 7, with the fates of Bruins coaching staff, management and players on the line if things had gone badly before a dramatic victory.
Then there was the complete domination of a troubled hockey club in the second round, and major changes for the losing franchise.
That was the path of the Bruins in the Stanley Cup playoffs two years ago when they narrowly squeaked by the Montreal Canadiens in a nip-and-tuck series before smoking a fractured Philadelphia Flyers club, who traded away the Dry Island-averse Mike Richards and Jeff Carter after Philly’s demise.
The Bruins went on to defeat both the Tampa Bay Lightning and Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley Cup Finals after those first two rounds.
It’s difficult to ignore the similarities to this season’s postseason run for the Black and Gold.
Once again, they needed a huge effort in the third period and overtime of Game 7 to snatch victory away from the claws of defeat against the Maple Leafs.
Now the Bruins are up 3-0 in a second-round series against a beleaguered New York Rangers crew that’s benched $60 million man Brad Richards in a playoff elimination game. It’s the latest act of desperation from a Blueshirts club that hasn’t back-checked, created net-front presence or even blocked shots like they’re supposed to do in the do-or-die postseason.
While it would be pretty easy to see the pattern repeating itself for the Bruins with a Thursday night victory at Madison Square Garden, the Bruins aren’t going there quite yet.
“It does definitely bring back some memories with how it’s setting up, but in saying that, everything is different, and every year is different,” said Milan Lucic. “There are different breaks in every game, and every series. If anything we want to take everything we learned from that experience, and put it into tonight’s game.
“We came out and played one of our best games and did get the job done two years ago (against Philly). That’s going to be our focus tonight: getting the job done. You need to focus on the little things, and what’s made us successful to this point. You can’t focus on the big picture right now.”
Lucic went for zero goals and just three assists during the first 10 playoff games of Boston’s Stanley Cup run two years ago, but is now a point-per-game player with 10 points (3 goals 7 assists) along with a plus-10 in 10 postseason games this year. He’s the living proof of just how different things are this time around.
Despite those differences, the Bruins would certainly like to close out the Rangers just as they did to a star-crossed Flyers bunch two years ago.
“We're here to win a hockey game, and we're going to do whatever it takes,” said coach Claude Julien.
The Bruins learned “what it takes” two years against Philadelphia, and now they need to go out and apply it when they play the Rangers in a striking case of Stanley Cup déjà vu.