BOSTON, MA - Friday night's Game 5 came, and went. The Bruins still have the upper-hand against the Maple Leafs, but now they're riding on a 3-2 series lead, as they head to Toronto to try to close it out for good.
In an effort to move past the loss, the Bruins held an optional skate at TD Garden Saturday morning, which was heavily attended. Only seven B's stayed off, including heavy minute-loggers Dennis Seidenberg, Andrew Ference, Johnny Boychuk, Nathan Horton, David Krejci and Jaromir Jagr. Tuukka Rask also remained off to rest, while Anton Khudobin was between the pipes.
Wade Redden, deemed out day-to-day on Friday by Bruins bench boss Claude Julien, was back on the ice with the team after being out of the lineup for last night's game.
"We're going to take it a day at a time still, see how things go tomorrow and make the choice then," said Redden following his skate. Coach later confirmed that the defenseman is still day-to-day.
"Felt pretty good. It's been feeling better, so that's a positive," said Redden of the undisclosed injury. "It's turned the corner. Obviously games are coming quick, so that's a good sign."
The presence of Redden, who notched the B's first goal of the series, was certainly missed in the game, but Coach Julien isn't pointing to that as any reason that led to the 2-1 loss to Toronto.
"To me, it had nothing to do with the pairings because there were a lot of guys out on the ice besides [Matt] Bartkowski who was replacing [Redden], but the pairings had really nothing to do with the outcome of the game," said Coach, of the B's trouble breaking out of their own end in the first period Saturday night.
"I think it was more our team as a whole, but Redden, as you know, has been a good player for us so far in the playoffs. Poise, good posture, good vision, stuff like that, so did we miss that part of his game? Yeah, we did."
Turning the Page
A playoff series is full of many cliches - not getting too high or too low after wins and losses, staying even-keeled, taking it game by game, shift by shift, "flushing out" bad vibes after a loss. But, at the end of it all, those phrases are what a team has to adhere to, in order to move on quickly, and close out a series.
As such, the assistant coaches began Saturday's practice with the B's pairing off and going through some one-on-one keep away drills to lighten the mood following last night's defeat; to the viewer, it essentially looks like a game of tag - and it looked pretty fun for those involved as well, as the players immediately were forced into smiles.
As Captain Zdeno Chara said following the Game 5 loss, "It’s the playoffs. You can’t be sitting on your wins or your losses. You’ve got to move on." And that's exactly what Boston was doing this morning.
Challenge of Closing
The Bruins are not blind to their past woes of closing out series. The 2011 run featured three Game Sevens; 2010 saw them come out on the losing end after a 3-0 series lead over Philadelphia. But still, they're a team that is known for showing character through adversity.
"It definitely was unfortunate that we weren’t able to get the job done yesterday, but I think it definitely makes you more hungry going into Game 6, and we’re looking forward to this challenge again," said Milan Lucic following the optional skate on Saturday.
"I think it was evident that we didn’t have the best start that we wanted and when we did turn it on it was a little bit too late so hopefully we’ve learned from Game 5 and we can have a good start in Game 6."
Coach Julien also assessed his team's ability to get win No. 4.
"The one thing, like I said, that has been a challenge for us in the past has been closing out series. And we know that, we’re aware of that," said Coach.
"But at the same time, the strength of our team has also been to bounce back from adversity and situations like that. As much as yesterday was proof of it, hopefully tomorrow’s the proof of the other side that we are capable of bouncing back and playing the type of game we need to to close the series out."