BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins have their share of inexperience and youth on their roster as they head into tonight's potential closeout game against the Toronto Maple Leafs up 3-1 in their best-of-seven series.
Still, they also have a ton of top-heavy Stanley Cup playoff experience at the top of their roster, and those experienced veterans certainly should be at the forefront tonight. Grizzled vets Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Brad Marchand, Adam McQuaid and Tuukka Rask have closed out plenty of series. Plus, they’ve also seen the other side where closeout chances turn into epic collapses.
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So they’re focused on the here and now with a chance to end things on home ice in five games against a Leafs team looking for answers after a gritty Game 4 defeat.
“We all know the fourth [win in a series] is the most difficult, so we’re going to have to give our best effort,” said Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid, who blocked a shot with his wrist in the closing minutes of Game 4 while paying his personal price for a victory. “The other team’s life is on the line and they’re going to bring everything they’ve got, so we need to have the same kind of attitude going into it to match that.”
Clearly, it will be a tougher Toronto team to beat while getting Nazem Kadri back from suspension. He should certainly be motivated to try and make a difference after earning himself a three-game removal from the playoff series. It’s also a Leafs teams under the gun with William Nylander dropped to the fourth line while Connor Brown and Zach Hyman have been elevated to the top line to give Auston Matthews a little more room to operate out on the ice.
Expect Boston’s leadership to keep the team’s eyes on the prize with the singular focus you need to close out a team in the postseason and that means full-speed ahead no matter what is being thrown at you.
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“Every year, every series, every team is different. You’ve got to be mentally and physically ready to play your best,” said Chara.
Chara has been a strong factor in the series. He's held Matthews to one goal in four games and it’s probably part of the reason Nylander was moved off the wing on a top line where Chara’s physicality was neutralizing him. With the series back in Boston and Bruce Cassidy controlling the matchups, Matthews will continue to see a heavy dose of the Bruins captain and Boston will hope to ignite an offense that scored 12 goals in the first two games at TD Garden.
”Obviously, the last one is always the hardest. If you look at other games around the league, Pittsburgh and Nashville, they had a chance [and couldn’t do it on Friday night]. So it isn’t going to be easy,” said Krejci. “But at the same time, you’ve done the job all season, so you’ve got to stay in the moment and just get it done shift by shift. That’s what we’re going to do tonight.
“Their season is on the line, but so is ours. Momentum shifts very quickly in the playoffs, so you just need to go out and focus on the next shift. Obviously, you want to have a good start, stay in the moment and use the crowd to your advantage. It’s going to be buzzing tonight, it’s going to be exciting, but at the same time stay focused and stay on the task that’s in front of you.”
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It was Krejci that was the focal point of the 2010 collapse to the Flyers when he was knocked out of the series with a dislocated wrist in Game 4 when the Bruins were up 3-0, so nobody knows it first-hand more than No. 46. The fourth win against a team in the playoffs is always the most arduous and sometimes takes the best execution of the series, so expect to see the very best in Game 5 from a Bruins team that’s answered the bell at just about every turn this season.