How Bruins can finally finish their series against Maple Leafs
|05.12.13 at 12:05 am ET|
TORONTO — The Bruins weren’t supposed to let it get this far, but they did.
With the series back in Toronto, the Maple Leafs can force a winner-take-all Game 7 with a win Sunday night at Air Canada Centre. Here are six things the Bruins can do in Game 6 to prevent that from happening:
Match Toronto’s intensity with a fast start
The Bruins knew the Leafs were going to be desperate in Game 5, but they chose not to match their energy early on.
Though the Leafs are the only team that actually face elimination, the Bruins should have every reason to be desperate. The chunk of extra days rest they would have gotten went out the window Friday night, but now it’s about not getting to a Game 7.
Are the Bruins the better team? Yes. Have both of their losses this series come because of things they did? Yes. However, anything can happen in a Game 7, so they should be as frantic at puck drop Sunday night as they were in the last 15 minutes Friday.
Get the Bergeron line going
Paging Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin.
Marchand and Seguin were the Bruins’ top two goal-scorers with 18 and 16 goals, respectively, in the regular season. Through five games, they have combined for zero goals this postseason.
Seguin has gotten the most flak for not showing up in the playoffs, but don’t let Marchand off the hook. Bergeron (one power play goal) should almost always be exempt from criticism because of his defensive contributions, but even he needs to step up his game.
Through five games, the line has been on the ice for just one Bruins goal (Johnny Boychuk’s goal in Game 2). That needs to change fast.
Get the same Tuukka Rask they got in Game 5
The good thing about Game 5 was that Tuukka Rask showed he can handle having everything thrown at him.
Rask stopped all 19 shots he saw in the first period Friday, and that followed two games in Toronto in which he saw a total of 95 shots. Rask has always said he’s felt more comfortable when he’s seen a lot of shots, and he can expect a lot more Sunday.
Go Krejci one more time
So much for all of those questions about David Krejci’s first-round struggles.
After totaling four points (one goal and three assists) in the first round of the last two postseasons (14 games), Krejci has led the Bruins with 5 goals and 11 points. He has at least a point in every game this postseason, a streak the Bruins would like to see kept alive.
A few things have been established in this round, and one of them is that when the Krejci line is going at full capacity, there’s nothing the Leafs can do about it. As Rask said after Game 4, Krejci can do whatever he wants when he’s playing like he did in Game 4.
Avoid the defensive mistakes
What do both of the Bruins’ losses this round have in common (besides the fact that they came at home)? Both of them came as a result of defensive issues. In Game 2, the B’s allowed too many odd-man rushes and Dennis Seidenberg found himself on the ice for three Toronto goals when separated from Zdeno Chara due to the Andrew Ference suspension.
Game 5 saw Ference mishandle a puck that led to a shorthanded goal for the Leafs, with Toronto getting its other goal when a missed connection between Johnny Boychuk and Nathan Horton gave Clarke MacArthur a partial breakaway.
When the B’s have been defensively sound, they’ve won. The Chara-Seidenberg pairing is stable as a table, and it will need to shut down Phil Kessel once more.
Get to James Reimer
If the rebounds are there on Sunday, the Bruins need to get to them. Even on nights when Reimer has shined, he hasn’t held on to too many pucks, and too often the B’s haven’t gotten to them.
Reimer should undoubtedly be feeling more confident after Game 5, as he stole the show in the second period with 17 saves, including a Tim Thomas-esque stop on Bergeron. The Maple Leafs aren’t a particularly strong defensive team, however, and they’re playing without Mark Fraser, who was hit in the face by a Milan Lucic slapshot in Game 4.
If the B’s have their top three lines going Sunday, they could make it a tough night for Reimer. Krejci’s line has been there and Chris Kelly’s line played better in Game 5, but they still need a more balanced effort. Offensive depth wore down opposing defenses and goalies two years ago. They have the talent to do it again, but they just need the production.