By Carrie Young | Follow me on Twitter @carrieyoung512
The Boston Bruins have found themselves down 3-1 to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. This series has been somewhat reminiscent of the 2018 match-up between these two teams: Boston won the first game, then ended up losing four in a row to finish out the series. It isn’t over yet, however. The Bruins know as well as any team that no lead is safe until the final horn sounds. They’ll need a gutsy performance from the entire lineup to push the series to six games, but there are three players in particular who need to be at their best.
Halak became the Bruins’ starting goaltender when Tuukka Rask left the bubble to attend to urgent family responsibilities. He played well at first, but has not been at his best over the past few games. Coach Bruce Cassidy acknowledged in his post-game interviews that Halak allowed multiple goals that he should have saved. When the rest of the team is struggling, it’s important to have a strong goaltender as your last line of defense.https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
The Bruins will need Halak to put up his best performance of the playoffs so far if they want to win on Monday. Backup Dan Vladar is untested and let up three goals in his NHL debut in relief of Halak during Wednesday’s blowout loss. The net belongs to the experienced goaltender, and he will be aiming to shut down Tampa’s offense after a full day of rest.https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
When the top line does well, the Bruins tend to win games. Though David Pastrnak tied for the league lead in goals and Brad Marchand has emerged as an elite scorer, it all starts with center Patrice Bergeron. His ability to read everything happening on the ice at once and react quickly to opponents’ mistakes was evident in Game Five against the Hurricanes. As the clock was winding down in the second period, Bergeron noticed that goalie Petr Mrazek wasn’t expecting a shot and banked the puck in off his leg. This ended up as the game-winning goal and led to a series win.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qn5ERVhLM8g&w=560&h=315]
The Bruins need this type of play from their stars once again. Too often in this current series, Boston has not been able to make the Lightning pay for their mistakes. A heads-up play leading to a goal could completely change the momentum in the Bruins’ favor. There’s no better candidate than Bergeron to make that happen.
Krug and his defensive partner Brandon Carlo have had a few slip-ups in coverage during this series, but they are still heavily relied on at both even strength and on special teams. Krug is an integral part of the Bruins’ power play. The man advantage is another key to a Game Five win: capitalizing on Tampa’s penalties is crucial and the Bruins need as many goals as they can get. If Krug can contribute more offensively (he has six points in this series, all assists) as well as locking down the defensive zone, the team will be a step closer to victory.https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
Krug, along with the rest of the team, knows that he has a lot more to give. “We haven’t played up to our level,” he told the media on Sunday.
🎥 David Pastrnak and Torey Krug look ahead to Game 5 against Tampa: “We haven’t played up to our level. We have to get there fast or else it’s gonna end before we want it to.” pic.twitter.com/FlSpZ54DYU— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) August 30, 2020
It’s reassuring for fans that the players are taking accountability for recent performances and looking ahead to the next game. If any individual can step up, the rest of the team may follow. The Bruins didn’t win the President’s Trophy for the best record of the regular season by getting lucky. They earned it. Now, they need to earn a series win.