The Bruins have opened up a 3-0 series lead on the Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference semifinals for the second year in a row.
This time, the Bruins are looking for a much different result.
Game 4 is slated for tonight at 8 p.m. in TD Garden and the Bruins are preparing to come out strong. After taking two dominating victories -- a 7-3 win in Game 1 and a 5-1 performance in Game 3, split by a 3-2 overtime spectacular in Game 2 -- Boston knows the Flyers will come out to play and the desperation level will be high.
While a Philadelphia victory wouldn’t put the Bruins out on the links, it would give the Flyers a bit of momentum heading back to Philadelphia for Game 5 on Sunday -- a trip that the the B’s have no interest in making.
Instead, Boston hopes to spend Mother's Day weekend at home in the Hub and let the Flyers begin their offseason in Philadelphia.
Game 4: must win for B’s?
Nobody has forgotten what happened last season when the Bruins stood in an identical position over the Flyers -- 3-0 series lead over Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
|Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas reacts as he is congratulated by defenseman Dennis Seidenberg after their 5-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinal NHL Stanley Cup hockey playoff series in Boston, Wednesday, May 4, 2011. The Bruins lead the series 3-0. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) |
While last year’s team was written into a chapter of NHL history for all the wrong reasons, this year’s squad isn’t looking for a repeat. The team is different, the atmosphere is different and the B's health is different.
But with what could be a decisive Game 4 on the horizon, the Bruins know tonight’s game carries a lot of weight and they don’t want to give Philadelphia any room to work with.
“They are a great team and we have to play desperate still even though we are up three games. You don’t want to let them back in the games and give them any life,” forward Nathan Horton said.
“You want to finish off as quick as possible so we have to play our best for sure. They are a great team, they are not just going to give it to us.”
While some may call tonight’s game a “must-win,” Boston Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien says the Bruins need to continue to play their game and take the same approach they have throughout the series.
“Obviously, you want to win the game tomorrow,” said Julien. “It’s game four tomorrow and it’s a big game for us. We have to be ready to react accordingly and you don’t want to change your game.”
“Whether the killer instinct you’re talking about is going crazy and all out, I don’t think that’s the approach but you certainly have to have that killer instinct of wanting to end it as soon as you can.”
Goaltender Tim Thomas believes the Bruins have the killer instinct that Julien speaks of, but stresses that they can’t let that instinct take over and dominate their minds and game.
“I think it would be important not to play head games about ourselves,” Thomas said.
“Just to approach it the same way that we have been approaching it, one game at a time, one period at a time, one shift at a time.”
Horton hears a woo
Horton continued to fill up the score sheet Wednesday night, registering a “Gordie Howe hat trick” in Boston’s 5-1 win over Philadelphia in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series.
|Boston Bruins right wing Nathan Horton (18) celebrates his goal against the Philadelphia Flyers during the second period of Game 3 in a second-round NHL Stanley Cup hockey playoff series in Boston, Wednesday, May 4, 2011. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola) |
An usual feat in the postseason, the Howe trick is made up of an assist, goal and fight, all of which Horton had collected prior to the second intermission.
The assist came on David Krejci’s first period tally. Horton then took down Philadelphia’s Sean O’Donnell early in the second and finished up the trick with Boston’s fourth goal 15:14 into the second frame.
In terms of the personal feat, Horton was more concerned with the team’s results than his own accomplishments.
“Just anything to do for a win. If things happen on the ice, it’s kind of how it went,” said Horton. "But the big thing is we won and we want to keep winning.”
His 10 games with Boston this postseason are the only ten of Horton’s seven-year NHL career. He has 5-3-8 totals with a plus-5 rating.
“A lot of fun, a lot of excitement,” Horton said of the playoffs. “It’s been a blast. I can’t describe it any better. It’s been a lot of fun to play in the playoffs, this is what hockey is all about.”
Horton got off to a bit of a slow start, as did his entire line, which includes Krejci and Milan Lucic, in the first round series against Montreal. But two overtime game-winning snipes in Games 5 and 7 put the 25-year-old’s nerves at ease.
“Well I think the first game, just being overly excited maybe and just wanting to get there so much, just being overly excited and too anxious,” said Horton. “But I settled in a little bit and we are starting to play the hockey we want to play.”
Bruins injury update
While those in and around the Hub of Hockey collectively held their breath when defenseman Adam McQuaid went head first into the boards during Game 2 on Monday night in Philadelphia, they let out small sighs of relief when they heard that McQuaid travelled back to Boston and then remembered the Bruins have the blueline depth to recover from such an injury.
Shane Hnidy replaced McQuaid in the lineup on Wednesday night for Game 5, and while his minutes were limited, he played his role well as the Bruins won 5-1.
“He was ready to go and he still is ready to go. And we definitely have confidence in him, we understand also the fact that he hasn’t played much this year,” Julien said.
Yesterday, following the Bruins morning practice at TD Garden, head coach Claude Julien updated the status of his injured defensemen, which includes rookie Steven Kampfer.
“He is definitely getting better,” Julien said of McQuaid.
“I know we are still saying day-to-day but there is improvement in him and we are getting very optimistic things are going to happen quicker than later. Right now we are just keeping our fingers crossed. He seems to be doing well and hopefully we will have better news here in the next few days.”
While McQuaid was not present at Boston’s practice, Kampfer skated with the team for the first time since being recalled to Providence at the end of the regular season where he suffered the injury.
“It’s good to be back out there. It’s been a long couple of weeks sitting by watching. But it’s nice to get out there skating -- and skating with the guys especially,” said Kampfer.
“It’s definitely a perk. It’s moving ahead but it’s always a slow progress at this time.”
As for when Kampfer will be game-ready, Julien said he is not there yet.
“He felt good enough to skate with us toady. We had no contact in our drills so it was a good skate for him. So we’re moving forward as we’re being told by our medical staff. And he’s looking better everyday so we just have to stay with it,” Julien said.
“But he’s not ready.”
Kampfer’s progress is encouraging, and the young blueliner would like to be able to get on the ice and help out his team soon. However, he knows that Hnidy and the rest of the Bruins back end are quality players and thus far, have given Boston the results they have been looking for.
“It would be nice to be out there, but at the same time I thought our team played well,” Kampfer said.
“We have eight capable guys that can play and I think Hnidy did a great job. That’s why we have depth and that’s why this team is so strong,” he added.
“We have guys that can fill in at any time.”