BostonBruins.com - Torey Krug admitted that the cliches were out in full force on Sunday afternoon. But for the Bruins, it really is that simple.
It's win or go home on Monday night as the Black & Gold face a 3-1 series deficit in their second-round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
"Can give you a bunch of cliches, but it truly is one game at a time here," said Krug. "We're just focusing on [Game 5], and trying not to let things spiral out of control within a hockey game is a big part of it. We're just working on our game and focusing on ourselves. We've just got to bring it next game.
"We haven't played up to our level. We have to get there fast or else it's gonna end before we want it to."
After winning Game 1, Boston has dropped three straight, putting their dreams of a return to the Stanley Cup Final in serious jeopardy. The Bruins have never overcome a 3-1 series deficit in the team's nearly 100-year history (0-23), while Tampa (5-0) has never squandered such an advantage.
"They're definitely resilient," Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said of his group. "I believe they'll put their best foot forward and we're going to have to. We're playing against a good hockey club that doesn't give an inch. It's on us to make sure we execute better with the puck, finish a few more plays, and obviously defend a little better.
"I don't think it's been domination; it's just they've made the right plays at the right times in the games and gotten into the lead. That's what we're looking at. Let's focus on our first period, our start. Be better early on so we're not giving up much and then create at the other end and finish.
"Formula sounds basic but it's what you need to do right now. How we get there is what we have to discuss, the things that go into that. At the end of the day, its focus on the first period of the next game and not worry about what's ahead of that."
The hole that the Bruins have dug themselves is made even more complicated by the unique circumstances surrounding this year's postseason, which has forced the players away from their families for over a month. The mental grind of trying to come back, while also seeing the light outside the bubble, could be at odds.
"I wouldn't say it's more difficult to focus on the task at hand," said Krug. "I think we've got a veteran group. We're able to focus on the task at hand. We're true professionals, a lot of pride. We're very proud to wear the Bruins sweater and we have a lot of people that we're trying to make proud because of that.
"We put our head down every day and go to work. We miss our families and the situation is a little bit different, but at the end of the day our ultimate goal is to win the Stanley Cup, or at least have a chance to. We're just here working and hopefully [on Monday] we're on the winning side of things."
- The Bruins were without Chris Wagner and Nick Ritchie for Sunday's practice in Toronto. Wagner did not play during the third period of Saturday's Game 4 loss and has been ruled out for Game 5. Karson Kuhlman will sub in for Wagner on the fourth line.
- Ritchie, who was assessed a five-minute major for his hit on Yanni Gourde in Game 4, later fought Barclay Goodrow and could be seen bleeding from the hand in the penalty box. Cassidy did not confirm if that was the reason for the winger's absence on Sunday. He is a game-time decision for Game 5.
- After missing the last two games, Sean Kuraly skated the last two days, though his status for Game 5 remains in question. Cassidy said the 27-year-old is "progressing" and is a game-time decision.
- If Ritchie and Kuraly can't go, Anders Bjork and Jack Studnicka will play alongside Charlie Coyle.
Monday's Projected Lineup
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk - David Krejci - Ondrej Kase
Anders Bjork - Charlie Coyle - Jack Studnicka
Joakim Nordstrom - Par Lindholm - Karson Kuhlman
Zdeno Chara - Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug - Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk - Connor Clifton