NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley joined Mut & Merloni on Thursday to preview Game 4 of the Bruins-Rangers playoff series.
The Bruins are looking to close out the series with a sweep, but Brickley said he does not expect the Rangers to lay down.
“They’re not going to want to lose on home ice,” Brickley said. “They’re not going to want to go down four straight to this Bruins team. They want to force a Game 5. They absolutely have a lot of pride. They’re professional athletes. They’re a team that was expected to do something this year, and the opportunities are sliding away quickly. So, I expect them to bring their ‘A’ game, and I expected their goaltender to play as well as he did in Game 3.”
The Bruins are coming off an impressive win in Game 3, as they delivered a solid effort for 60 minutes and scored two third-period goals to pull out the win.
“The thing I loved about the Bruins in Game 3 was no Jekyll and Hyde persona that Claude [Julien] likes to talk about; far more consistent,” Brickley said. “The best measure is quality scoring chances given up, and you can count them on one hand against [Tuukka] Rask in Game 3. Even though they needed two goals in the third period, the Bruins were never in any real trouble despite the one goal that beat Rask through a whole bunch of bodies from a screen on that shot by [Ryan] McDonagh from the point.
“The only thing that concerned you a little bit was the scoring chances that they had in the first period and were unable to beat [Henrik] Lundqvist. But their mentality coming into the series was that’s what they expected from Lundqvist all along, even though they didn’t get it in Games 1 and 2. So, I think the Bruins mentally and emotionally were prepared for that kind of performance. And they just try to stay on the attack and play to their identity, which was to roll those four lines.
“What they’ve shown us in this series is incredible depth that they have. No [Dennis] Seidenberg, no [Andrew] Ference, no [Wade] Redden. You get [Matt] Bartkowski, [Torey] Krug and [Dougie] Hamilton, and that gives you a different dynamic to your team — that speed, quickness and mobility on the back end. But I think you also saw their depth in Game , with your fourth line and the matchups you get with that fourth line and how good they played, with experience and with familiarity and their forechecking game — simple, fundamental and effective. And they end up being difference-makers on the scoresheet.”
The Bruins’ lack of success in non-Game 7 closeout games over the past three years has been well-documented. Brickley said the B’s appear to be better equipped to provide a finishing touch Thursday.
“I still have memories of Game 5 on home ice against Toronto, up 3-1,” Brickley said. “The way [the Bruins] responded in Game 3 [vs. the Rangers] makes me think that they’re far more prepared — mentally, physically, emotionally — for a closeout game situation. They needed three closeout games to beat the Leafs. You hope it’s a lesson learned. I expect the Bruins, since they’ve found some consistency now in their game, that they’ll be far better tonight.”