BOSTON - The Bruins know well the task that is in front of them on Sunday afternoon. It's a simple one, quite frankly.
Either win, or go home.
It is not a situation that the Bruins figured they would be facing so early in the postseason, but one they seem ready to take head on.
"It's funny, every year writes its own story," said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy, whose team will battle the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 6 at 3 p.m. (NBC, 98.5 The Sports Hub). "You value it, but this is a whole new group and they've got to find their way, that was the message this morning. There was a lack of urgency [in Game 5] in our play - at times it was there - but in general, I don't think this team has reached where it can get to yet in the playoffs at all, in terms of team play.
"We have to reach our level if we want to expect to advance…we have no room for error. Whoever gets [the message] across, it needs to be bought in. It's time, we need to step up our urgency."
Video: Bergeron talks improving starts
For the second time in the series - along with their Game 1 loss - the Bruins lamented a lack of earnestness during their 2-1 setback in Game 5 on Friday night. With their backs now up against the wall, Boston knows it must quickly elevate its game to a level more on par with the one that led to the second-most points in the National Hockey League this season.
"We're all capable of so much more, especially collectively as a group," said Torey Krug. "We have the ability to beat anybody in this league and play at the top consistently. We showed that throughout the regular season. Now you reach this point, both teams are playing as hard as they can.
"They've done a good job, but I think we just need to play up to our potential and think about ourselves, not worry too much about what they're doing."
So, how do the Bruins do that? Follow the blueprint that made Game 2 - a 4-1 victory - so successful: a relentless, high-paced, physical attack that put the Maple Leafs back on their heels.
"We've got to get in and really stir it up in their end, get possession of the puck, work it down low," said Charlie McAvoy. "We've been defending for a good amount in this series, we've got to throw these punches, we've got to get in their end and get pressure. We've got to forecheck. We've got to be resilient because they've been doing it to us all series."
Video: McAvoy discusses ways to change the tide
The Bruins clearly know how to respond in such situations, having already come back from two one-game deficits in the series - including that Game 2 retort, which followed a lackluster performance in the postseason opener.
"It's a mindset. Just coming in, how are you gonna play, how are you gonna start? If things aren't going your way, you're not getting the bounces, how do you stick with it?" said Charlie Coyle. "Just come out moving our legs. Every game we've been down in this series we've come back and played with fire. We've had good jump in our legs and we come out hard. We expect no different, I think it will be the same case here. It starts with a sense of urgency, that's the key word there."
Also working in the Bruins' favor is the team's bevy of veteran experience. Having gone through countless postseason series, the likes of Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, and Brad Marchand know what it takes to battle through the adversity that arises at this time of year.
"It's massive. Any time you can lean on guys like Zee, Bergy and March, and Krech it helps us," said Jake DeBrusk. "They've been through a lot, they've won a Stanley Cup, they've been through lots of different series. We have that belief in here that we can do it, it's just a matter of going out and executing, following those guys' lead. Every day they show up and they're the reason why we have such high character on this team."
For Bergeron, the key to getting the series back to Boston for Game 7 will be simplifying the approach.
"I think we're trying to make harder plays that are not there," said Bergeron. "I think in the playoffs it's about simplifying and being hard on the puck and winning battles and getting to the net. That's what we've got to bring basically. That's what we've talked about today and the emphasis is on that…bottom line, our backs are against the wall and we've got to do the job tomorrow."
Video: Krug discusses experience, improving power play
Cassidy would not confirm any lineup tweaks for Game 6, but based on Saturday afternoon's practice at Warrior Ice Arena, there could be a change or two up front. During the session, Karson Kuhlman (a healthy scratch for Games 4 and 5) and Joakim Nordstrom (a scratch in Game 5) both took part in regular line rushes.
Kuhlman skated as the third-line right wing, alongside Danton Heinen and Charlie Coyle, while Nordstrom was back as the fourth-line left wing with Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner. If those are, in fact, the combinations for Game 6, Noel Acciari and David Backes would be the scratches.
"We might make a few adjustments. Tuukka's going back in nets. We'll go from there," said Cassidy.
When asked specifically about Kuhlman re-entering the lineup, Cassidy said, "We're considering it. Certainly he's played well for us, adds an element of speed and responsibility."
Video: Cassidy discusses needed improvement for Game 6
Saturday's Practice Lineup
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk - David Krejci - Marcus Johansson
Danton Heinen - Charlie Coyle - Karson Kuhlman
Joakim Nordstrom - Sean Kuraly - Chris Wagner
Noel Acciari/David Backes
Zdeno Chara - Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug - Brandon Carlo
John Moore - Matt Grzelcyk
Steven Kampfer - Connor Clifton
Video: Coyle discusses experience of the group