On the surface, the similarities are eerie: the Bruins lead an Eastern Conference semifinal series 3-0 with Tuukka Rask (7-3, 2.19 GAA, .930 save percentage) in net.
Yes, three long years ago Boston became only the third team in NHL history to blow a 3-0 series lead when they lost to the Philadelphia Flyers. Who could ever forget that? However, the franchise was able to pick up the pieces quickly as it won its first Stanley Cup in 39 years the very next season, which included a sweep of Philadelphia in the Eastern semis.
Rask would never say it publicly, but Thursday's Game 4 (7 p.m., CNBC) at Madison Square Garden represents a big moment in his promising young career. He has the chance to further bury the painful memories of 2010 with a sweep of the Rangers and the B’s can reach their second Eastern Conference Finals in three years with a victory Thursday.
Rask and the club obviously have big goals in mind (namely a Stanley Cup) but for a guy that had to toil in Tim Thomas’ long shadow all season and answer numerous questions about that whole situation, one would think that winning Game 4 would certainly provide a big lift mentally and emotionally going forward.
Nothing is taken for granted with these Bruins, of course, with that Flyers choke job plus last round’s near-gag against Toronto fresh on everyone’s minds. Still, the Bruins are the only team in the NHL right now with a chance to end their semifinal series in four games. Not a bad spot to be in, all things considered.
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter @RichSlate