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Can the Bruins save their season for a third time?

by: Ty Anderson on Fri, 04/21/2017 - 6:19pm

The Bruins have never overcome a 3-1 series deficit. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)The Bruins are once again teetering towards the cliff that would spell their demise.

If they’re a car, three wheels are hanging off the edge. If they’re a person, they’re hanging on by a single finger. But they are a hockey team in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and are currently trailing three games to one in their first round series with the Senators, so they’re one loss away from summer. 

But the Bruins have been here before. 

It was when the Bruins were still led by Claude Julien that the club flirted with premature death behind four straight losses in mid-January. The losses were just plain gross, too. They blew a three-goal lead to the Red Wings, they were shutout by the Islanders (the Isles fired their coach the next day), they dropped a late-game decision to the Blackhawks, and were blown out by the Penguins. The Bruins rebounded from that wound with three straight victories. They were character wins, too. It was under interim head coach Bruce Cassidy that the club started off on fire, but then found themselves back in trouble thanks to four straight losses (three of which against teams directly around them in the playoff race), late in their season. A fifth straight loss would have made making the postseason almost impossible for the Bruins, but they did not put themselves in that situation, as they instead rattled off six straight wins to drive themselves back into the postseason picture with games to spare.

For better or worse, this team has made a habit of pushing themselves against a wall. And every time they’ve done that, they’ve found a way to come out firing and pick themselves up. There’s no bigger time or opportunity for the Bruins to do that than this current situation, too, as the B’s do not have a single defeat or breathing room at their disposal. But maybe that’s somehow an advantage for the Black and Gold given the inspired efforts that have often followed such defeats and situations. 

“It’s not over until it’s over,” Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said. “We know it’s still playable, it’s 3-1, it’s not an ideal position but we know that we can play the same way, even better and get better results.”

In 22 previous series, the Bruins have never come back from a 3-1 series deficit. The last two times they have been in those situations, however, they have found a way to force a Game 7. They did in a seven-game series loss to the Canadiens back in 2008, and they did in 2009 against the Hurricanes. 

“One game at a time,” Patrice Bergeron said of their comeback path. “I think it’s simple. It’s been done before, it’s been done to us before. We all know it’s not over till you get that fourth win.

“It’s about one game at a time and you look forward.”

But the Bruins’ injury woes are an obvious downer when it comes to their ability to claw out of this hole like they’ve done earlier this season. The Bruins are still without Brandon Carlo (upper-body) and Torey Krug (lower-body), both of whom have not played in this series and will not in Game 5, along with Adam McQuaid (upper-body), who was injured in the first period of Game 2 and has not been seen since. David Krejci is at less than 100 percent. It’s put many of the clubs younger players -- like Charlie McAvoy, David Pastrnak, Frank Vatrano, and role players such as Sean Kuraly and Colin Miller -- in a situation where they’re going to have to deliver and without a bit of breathing room.

“They’re going to be baptized by fire, and while it happens, give them a little heads up of, every play matters, every play is magnified. Every hit you take to make a play, every hit you lay on them is an investment, and that’s, I expect Game 5 to be much like it was [Wednesday], where teams are playing hard,” David Backes said of the message to some of the team’s younger players, many of whom were not here for those earlier slumps. “Every little play you’ve got to work for every inch of ice, and in the end, the team that is able to push through is going to have the advantage.”

“We’ve played must-win games for a month and a half now probably, so I don’t think that’s going to change anything,” Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask, who stopped 26-of-27 shots in a Game 4 loss, said. “Obviously you just know that your season is on the line, not that mentally it makes any difference, but yeah, just have to make sure that you play a good game, and show up and leave it all out there.”

“We’ll start by winning one game, and that’s all you’ve got to focus on, winning one game, and then come back home and win another one, and then it’s Game 7. So, we don’t have to make it any more complicated than it is, but we’ve just got to make sure that we play a heck of a game on Friday.”

And if their 2017 history has told us anything, it’s that you can expect that tonight. 

If it’s enough, like it was in season-saving efforts back in January and March, however, won’t be answered until 10:30 p.m. tonight at the earliest.