Haggerty: One rough B's game no reason to panic

Haggerty: One rough B's game no reason to panic
May 24, 2013, 12:30 pm
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NEW YORK CITY – The Bruins should be watching the video of Game 4 on Friday afternoon with their fingers covering over their eyes.

Not because it was another example of the lacking work ethic or casual approach to playoff hockey that marred Boston’s series against the Toronto Maple Leafs once they’d worked up a 3-1 lead in the first round series.

No, this was not half-assed in any way, shape or form with all proper respect shown to John Tortorella’s propensity for telling others to kiss his derriere in moments of press conference duress.

The game tape will be tough to watch for the Bruins because the mistakes were boneheaded and preventable, and a four-game sweep of the New York Rangers was right within their grasp while dropping the 4-3 overtime decision at Madison Square Garden. Tuukka Rask made a couple of unforgivable sins in allowing the Blueshirts back into the game, and shares plenty of blame for each of New York’s first two scores.

The heavy minutes logged by Zdeno Chara over the last couple of weeks are likely to blame for a careless play in the third period that led to the game-tying score, and getting the series over to get him some rest should be the B’s top priority.

A too many men on the ice penalty in the third period as Tyler Seguin hopped over the boards a tick early for Shawn Thornton also once again opened the door for the Blueshirts. The Dougie Hamilton D-zone breakdown in overtime was just icing on the cake for the Black and Gold, and wouldn’t have even come into play had the Bruins played better hockey during the first 60 minutes.  

The image of Rask helplessly on his keister watching the Carl Hagelin shot float right on by him is one Bruins fans won’t soon forget, but one the Finnish goaltender should banish from his mind immediately.

“We made some mistakes, and they capitalized on them. We need to make sure we clean up that part of our game, and get ready for the next game,” said Chara. “In overtime we had some odd-numbered situations, and they scored on a deflection. We just need to move on.”

People tend to forget this now amid the Conn Smythe glory and Tea Party rhetoric, but even Tim Thomas could be counted on for a very awkward-looking fall or two on the ice per season.

“It looks pretty bad on TV, I’ll bet,” said Tuukka Rask, following the loss.

It did, of course, but his solo meltdown after a shootout loss to Montreal where he fell down while swinging his stick at the boards was certainly more comical.  

The Game 4 video will represent a lost opportunity in Boston’s collective minds because of those correctable gaffes, but also because the Rangers were Dead on Arrival once the Bruins had built up a 2-0 lead in the second period.

If the Bruins had somehow managed to rise above the mistakes, then this semifinal series would be over. Instead of wringing their hands about a failed Butt Save attempt, the Bruins fandom would be prepping torches, tridents and pitchforks for what feels like an inevitable Matt Cooke invasion in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Instead the Bruins ready for a Saturday afternoon tilt with the Rangers on the TD Garden ice, and that will be the true test.

Will Dennis Seidenberg be able to play big minutes with Zdeno Chara, and return that duo to their former shutdown defensemen glory?

Will Tuukka Rask shake off whatever had him enveloped within his own personal fog on Thursday night, and get right back to his bubble of goaltending excellence he’s displayed during these Stanley Cup playoffs?

Will Dougie Hamilton be able to restore his confidence and bounce back if he’s in the lineup for Game 5 after looking particularly distraught following Chris Kreider’s overtime game-winner?

One question that doesn’t need to be answered, however, is anything connected to Boston’s playoff collapse in 2010.

People will attempt to make the Flyers parallel because Game 4 was similar in that the Bruins had their chances to win that game, and couldn’t finish Philly off before falling in overtime. That win certainly did give the Flyers some momentum, and new life.

But that wasn’t the key to the Bruins’ collapse to the Flyers after piling up a 3-0 lead in the series, just as they have done against the Blueshirts.

The Bruins’ veterans point to the 4-0 loss in Game 5 on their own home ice as the moment when things truly spiraled out of control, a horrendous no show during a memorably painful series for the Black and Gold. Once that game went down the Bruins went scrambling for answers, the Flyers truly felt like they could come back and capture the series.

There’s no reason to panic and no good excuse to bring up the Philly collapse unless you’re a card-carrying member of the muckraking New York media looking to stir things up in the Boston dressing room. Or if you’re Stan Fischler, and you simply don’t want to eat beans for an entire week should the Bruins dispatch the Rangers in the three games.

“There’s no panic here. Had we been outworked and hadn’t been there at all, then I’d be saying something different up here,” said Claude Julien. “But we didn’t get outworked. All it was is that our team didn’t execute as well as they have lately. We just have to go back home, and play a better game.

“Our work ethic was there. The things that we do extremely well weren’t that easy for us tonight.”

The key to it all is Game 5, and how the Bruins respond to a little bit of adversity finally chucked at them by the sputtering Rangers. The Bruins still vastly outshot the Blueshirts (40-32) throughout the very winnable Game 4, and appeared to clearly be the better team for 60-plus minutes minus a few brain lock mistakes.

If any of that ends for Game 5 and Boston lays an embarrassing, gutless egg on the Garden ice during Memorial Day weekend, then it might be time to start getting worried about history repeating itself.

And if Simon Gagne suddenly walks through the door for Rangers and suits up for Game 5 in Boston, then the Black and Gold might really want to start sounding the alarms or hitting the Bob Lobel “Panic Button.”