BOSTON, MA – The Bruins have been at both ends of the spectrum when it comes to closing out series over the last few seasons. The Black & Gold had success in that department during their run to the Stanley Cup in 2011, while in 2010 they struggled to put away the Philadelphia Flyers, losing a 3-0 series lead and eventually falling in Game 7.
As a result of their experiences, the B’s, who can advance to the second round with a win, expect to be facing the best the Toronto Maple Leafs have to offer in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at TD Garden tonight.
“I can only speak for us right now, we’re ready for this game,” said B’s Head Coach Claude Julien following the team’s morning skate. “There’s no excuses. We know they’re going to come out and give their best, we have to do the same thing from our end of it.
“I think it’s pretty important that we come out ready to play hard and understand that desperation does a lot of things for teams. We’ve been on the other side as well, so that’s the way I look at it tonight.
“They’ve been hard-fought games all along and I don’t see it being any different. There’s no reason in the world why we should take a different approach than to go out and leave it all out there.”
The B’s are 3-6 under Julien in non-Game 7 close-out situations. When asked about that record, the B’s bench boss answered swiftly.
“I’m trying to make it 4-6 tonight,” quipped a smiling Julien. “How’s that?”
The Leafs have other plans, of course. They are down 3-1, but have played well in the series and feel that if they can force a Game 6 and get back to Air Canada Centre they have a chance to come back and win the series.
“We’re at a point where we can’t lose again, our back are against the wall,” said Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul, who scored three goals against the Bruins in the series. “This is when everyone has to rally together. If we get the series back to Toronto, you never know what’s going to happen.”
“Everything is on the line,” added Leafs Head Coach Randy Carlyle. “Desperation is a word that people use in these situations and we’re no different. We have to continue to find ways to provide a higher level of hockey to get us a win.
“We’ve been a pretty resilient group all year and our expectations are that we’ll play the best possible game we can in this series.”
After the collapse against the Flyers in 2010, the Bruins learned the importance of not allowing a team a chance at extending the series. Giving the opposition any kind of hope can be dangerous.
“You don't want to give a team any life," said Bruins' winger Brad Marchand. "They battle so hard every night. I think we pretty much feel that way every game. So far, they've given us everything. We’ve got our hands full with them.
“It's a do-or-die game for us tonight, too. We’ve got to make sure that we leave everything out there tonight.”
Andrew Ference, now a veteran of 110 playoff games, understands just how hard one win is to earn in the playoffs, let alone four to close out a series.
“Every win is tough, [in the] playoffs the victories are earned," added Andrew Ference. "There's no freebies, regardless of the game or situation."
“I think that you have to have respect for your opponent and respect the fact that if you don't come out and play extremely hard and do all the right things, there's a chance you'll lose.
“Being there you see that the seventh game or the first game, there's not a whole lot of difference. If you make mistakes and don't prepare, things aren't going to go your way.”