The Boston Bruins thought they excised the specter of last season’s postseason collapse when they finished off the Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference semifinals this year.
Yet here they are again, one round later, trying to turn back another comeback.
The Bruins will play the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of the conference finals on Friday night, with the winner earning a chance to play the Vancouver Canucks for the Stanley Cup.
But Boston could have avoided a winner-take-all predicament if it had merely
protected a three-goal lead in Game 4; scored more than one power-play goal a week in the playoffs; or kept Tampa Bay from scoring, as often as not, in the first 90 seconds of the game.
The Bruins spent most of this season trying to forget what happened in last year’s playoffs, when the Flyers rallied from a 3-0 deficit to force a seventh game and then trailed 3-0 in Game 7 before winning to advance to the conference finals. Boston swept Philadelphia this year in Round 2, but that doesn’t mean Bruins fans are ready to get comfortable when the team gets a big lead.
In Game 4, with Boston already leading the series 2-1, the Bruins opened up a 3-0 lead before allowing five unanswered goals. The Bruins also led 3-2 in the series, with a 2-1 lead after one period of Game 6 on Wednesday night, before the Lightning scored three in a row and eventually won 5-4.
“When it all comes down to one game, I think the pressure is on
both teams,” Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron said. “You shouldn’t
allow pressure to get into your head. Just go out there and play
Although the teams finished the regular season with identical 46-25-11 records, good for 103 points, the Bruins have the home-ice advantage for Game 7 because they won the Northeast Division while the Lightning finished behind Washington in the Southeast.
“We worked all year to have home ice, and now we have to take advantage of it,” Bergeron said. “We can’t worry about what happened in the first six games.”