If you don’t enjoy clichés in sports, you’ll want to steer clear of any Bruins players or interim head coach Bruce Cassidy’s comments for the next few days. Boston finds themselves with the unenviable task of facing a 3-1 first-round playoff series deficit against Ottawa after the Senators won their third straight one-goal game, 1-0 on Wednesday in Game 4 at TD Garden. The B’s will try to stave off elimination at least for another few days as they travel back to Canadian Tire Centre on Friday (7:30, NESN and USA Network) for Game 5. In the long history of the Bruins’ franchise, they have trailed 3-1 in a best-of-7 series on 22 occasions and the fact is that they have never rallied to win that particular series.
However, if the black and gold get caught up with that bleak past, they won’t give themselves a chance to rewrite history. Keep in mind that 24 teams in NHL history have comeback from 3-1 deficits, most recently the Rangers in the 2015 second-round vs. the Capitals and the Rangers in the 2014 second-round vs. the Penguins. Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask was the tough-luck loser after he made 26 saves in Game 4 but Senators goaltender Craig Anderson (22 saves) didn’t allow any pucks to get by him in his fourth career playoff shutout and third for Ottawa.
“We don’t have to make it (Game 5) anymore complicated than it is,” noted Rask. “It’s the same mentality that we have for every game because we’ve been playing must-win games for a month and a half.”
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It would be one thing if the Bruins were getting blown out but every game in this series has been decided by one goal including two in overtime (Games 2 & 3). Boston has to quickly recover some of the magic that they found on the road when they took Game 1 in Ottawa, 2-1. “It’s disappointing but we have to keep our chins up,” said Bruins center Patrice Bergeron. “It’s one game at a time and we still have to find a way to get a win.” Indeed, facing such odds the B’s can’t let the pressure get to them and feel like they have to win Game 5 on a particular shift or play. Falling behind Ottawa is just what the Senators want since that’s how they put a stranglehold on the contest (like in the 3rd period of Game 4 when the Bruins managed just five shots on goal) with their dreaded neutral zone trap that squeezes the life out of their opponents.
To have their best chance to win Game 5 and continue the series this weekend (Game 6 would be on Sunday in Boston), Boston’s makeshift defense has to find a way to slow down Ottawa’s suddenly potent trio of right wing Bobby Ryan (3 goals, 2 assists), superstar defenseman Erik Karlsson (5 assists) and center Derick Brassard (2 goals, 3 assists). If those guys continue to consistently produce at this pace, Boston’s postseason most likely ends on Friday in Canada’s capital city.