BostonBruins.com - The last time the Bruins swept a postseason series was during their 2011 Stanley Cup run. They took down the Philadelphia Flyers in the second round that season, just a year after the Flyers completed a historic comeback against Boston.
There is no revenge on the line tonight when the Bruins take on the New York Rangers in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, but there is motivation for the B’s to end things quickly. It was less than two weeks ago that Toronto surged back, after Boston had held the 3-1 series lead.
They want to put to bed the idea any sort of idea they have trouble closing out series and do not want to return to Boston after the game, unless it is to prepare for the Eastern Conference Finals.
“It would be nice [to close out the series],” said Bruins center David Krejci prior to Game Four. “But we know, we learned that the last one is the hardest in past years and even in the last series. Just got to get ready for [tonight] and play just like it's a Game One.”
“I think it's very important,” blueliner Torey Krug said of ending the series tonight. “We don't want to give them any ounce of momentum. So for us, it’s important to get out there, especially in the first period, kind of settle the crowd down and go from there.”
Given their three wins in the series, the Bruins may have tweaks here and there, but their consistent effort has led to the success - and the B's are prepared to bring the same game plan, knowing that Rangers will come out desperate.
"Just to continue to play how we have been," said Daniel Paille, on how to match New York's desperation. "We've stuck with our system, we realize that it's been tight games. I think that's going to be the focus going forward. They are going to play with that type of intensity tonight, especially tonight, and and we have to as well."
B’s Head Coach Claude Julien is expecting the same kind of effort from his team tonight, that he has seen in the first three games and allowed them to build a 3-0 series lead.
“If we don't take the same attitude that we did [Tuesday] night,” said Julien, “then we shouldn't expect to win the hockey game.”
GETTING SHOTS THROUGH: There was much talk about the Rangers' shot-blocking heading into this series, with them leading the NHL playoffs after the first round with 161 blocked shots. It's one of their trademarks. Despite that approach, the Bruins have been able to get 114 shots through to Henrik Lundqvist through the three games of this series.
But is it about the quantity of shots, or the quality?
"I think it's the quality, just because we've had 40 shots on him, 45 shots and only one or two goals go in," said Paille. "But if you look at the goals we've scored, it's been in front of him where we can create traffic and he's unable to see the puck. I think that will be key, shouldn't be any different for today."
"I think the main thing is just getting your head up and knowing what your options are," said defenseman Adam McQuaid, who along with the other blueliners, have played a signifcant role in getting shots through from the points. "It's no secret that they do a great job of blocking shots; it's not an easy thing to do, they do a good job of getting in lanes and sacrificing their bodies. It's just trying to get you head up and knowing what you have for options."
BETWEEN THE PIPES: It looked like Henrik Lundqvist was going to steal one in Game Three, making 34 saves and giving his team every chance to win. He kept the Bruins off the board until 3:10 of the third period, when Boychuk’s wrister beat him through a screen. But before that, Lundqvist made some stellar stops on breakaways by Tyler Seguin and Chris Kelly; he robbed Jaromir Jagr twice from in tight; and snagged a Gregory Campbell slap shot with his glove. Tuukka Rask was just a bit better, though, stopping 23 of 24 shots to help the B’s to the 2-1 win.
SPECIAL TEAMS MATCH-UP: The Rangers power play woes continue in Game Three, with the Blue Shirts going 0-for-2 on the man-advantage. They are now 0-for-10 in the series. The Bruins did not have a power play on Tuesday night and have only had half as many power plays as the Rangers in the series. The B’s are 1-for-5 over the three games.
LOOSE ENDS: For the first time in the series in Game Three,Torey Krug did not score, but he still led the Bruins with four shots on goal...Fellow blueliner Matt Bartkowski led the Bruins in hits with six...Rich Peverley (5-of-7) and Patrice Bergeron (14-of-20) won 71 and 70 percent of their faceoffs, respectively.
INJURIES: Rangers defenseman Anton Stralman was injured after being hit by Milan Lucic during the second period of Game Three. Stralman did not return to the game and did not take part in the Rangers’ practice on Wednesday. Roman Hamrlik is expected to replace him on the back end. Brad Richards and Arron Asham are projected to be healthy scratches. Kris Newbury and Micheal Haley are expected to take their places...For the Bruins, Andrew Ference has yet to skate, and Dennis Seidenberg and Wade Redden did partake in the team's morning skate on Thursday, but there was no indication whether either would be inserted for Game Four.
On Wednesday, following the team's optional skate, Seidenberg did not rule out the possibility of playing in Game Four, but said he won’t take the ice until he knows he is 100 percent.
“There's a chance, for sure,” said Seidenberg, when asked if he could play tonight. “Again, you don't want to come back too early, so I think we'll see how it feels [Thursday] and go from there.”