Let's try to ignore the score of that game as long as possible.
Instead of dwelling on how badly the Bruins got their asses kicked in Game 3 against the Lightning — oh god, so badly — let's focus on something equally upsetting: The Bruins just played a Lightning team missing its leader in time on ice for two games in a row and lost both of them.
Ryan McDonagh being out this week was an opportunity for the Bruins, and in order to beat a superior team, that's what you need: opportunities. For the Bruins to get outplayed in a game they'd eventually lose in overtime, then get their asses kicked the next night spoke volumes about the disparity between these two teams.
Look back to the last round. The Bruins didn't even fully have their act together, but when Andrei Svechnikov went down for Carolina, that was it for the Hurricanes. They were cooked, and the Bruins went on to complete a relatively easy gentleman's sweep.
Then you've got the Lightning, who were already without one of the best players in the world in Steven Stamkos. Honestly, Stamkos being out is (was?) what gave the Bruins a chance in this series. Had Tampa been completely healthy, this might have been a quick round. Then again, maybe it still will be.
If you can't beat a team without two of their best players, there's the proof that you're facing a superior opponent. Now the Bruins have to try to get back in the series while allowing for the possibility of Tampa getting healthier.
They'll have to worry about their own lineup, too. Bruce Cassidy had as bad a game as any Bruin, as his move to roll with seven defensemen and sit Connor Clifton was puzzling. Game 2 was not Clifton's finest hour, but he was the Bruins' best possession player through two games — games in which the Lightning usually had the puck.
Sean Kuraly and Anders Bjork also sat. One has to assume Kuraly, who has not played well but is a very good fourth-liner who came up big late in Game 2, has an injury. If not, that's an easy first guess.
No one's going to complain about Bjork sitting, as he hasn't brought much to the table this postseason. However, if the plan was to only dress 11 forwards, Nick Ritchie was a more sensible odd man out.
Ritchie scored in Game 2, but should not be playing any minutes of consequence. In the first period, he reacted to getting checked by slashing Kevin Shattenkirk, a common occurrence, sure, but an absent-minded move to pull in front of two officials. The ensuing power play got Tampa on the board and the Lightning never looked back.
So maybe this is an overreaction, but it's not a good sign that three games into a series against the best team in the league, the Bruins should leave you with the same questions they did going into the playoffs: What are their lines after the obvious ones? Who plays with Charlie Coyle, who might be this year's co-recipient of the annual David Krejci "I deserved better linemates" distinction?
The Bruins aren't six goals worse than the Lightning, but they are worse than them. Now, the Lightning have outplayed them for most of the series and have a two games to one lead to show for it. And if the Bruins make this a series and it goes seven, Games 6 and 7 will be on consecutive days.
Oh boy. That worked so well the first time.