BOSTON – Just as they did in the last playoff series against the New York Rangers, the Boston Bruins have built up a commanding 3-0 lead in their best-of-seven series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
In that series against the Blueshirts, the Bruins faltered in Game 4 and made a series of mistakes, gaffes and miscues that gave New York life to live another day. Zdeno Chara was pick-pocketed at the side of the net, and Tuukka Rask gave up a couple of goals that he’d liked to have back, including the infamous “Butt Stumble” when he fell down in his own crease.
It’s safe to say the Bruins were a little more relaxed and loose than they wanted to be in that closeout game, and it forced them to play another against a doomed Rangers team. The Bruins know they’ll be playing with fire if they give even a sliver of hope or confidence to a talented Penguins group, so the aim is to squash them with a sweep.
“I think we know how we need to play,” said Claude Julien. “It’s about us bringing it tonight. This is about one game. It’s nothing more than about one game, and what we need to do here. We try and minimize all of the hoopla around everything, and keep it to the one game, and how we need to play.
“We didn’t play our best game [in Game 3]. They played better. We need to be a better team tonight.”
The Bruins did score the game’s first goal for the third game in a row against the Penguins, and they did manage to once again keep Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin off the scoreboard. Those were some of the key reasons behind Boston’s victory along with a gritty, heart-filled effort, but there’s even more on the line now.
A win would give the Bruins their second Stanley Cup Finals berth in the last three years, and lead to some very interesting notions about a Bruins club that seems almost destined to face the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Finals. But the Bruins aren’t allowing themselves to get giddy with anticipation, and have already nearly fallen victim to think a series was over, when it clearly wasn’t, against Toronto.
“We know they’re going to come out hard,” said Chris Kelly. “The main focus is on ourselves. If we’re worried about what they’re going to bring, then we’re going to be in trouble. We just need to focus on our group, and having a better start than we did in the last game.
“Teams are playing for their lives and trying to stay alive, so a desperate team is also a little bit of a scary team.”
The Bruins haven’t looked very scared thus far in taking a 3-0 lead over the Penguins, and they’ll be looking to avoid some of the obvious, careless mistakes they made against the Rangers in the last round.