That queasy feeling in your stomach right about now has nothing to do any lingering effects from your Easter dinner.
If you’re a Bruins backer, you have to be a little worried about what your team is going to do now the it’s going to take the ice in Montreal for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series with a 3-2 games lead in the series.
After all, the Canadiens might have the Bruins right where they want them considering Boston’s recent history of not being able to finish.
Human nature tells us that we all learn from our mistakes. However, there’s no telling how many times the Bruins have to screw up before they finally right themselves. For three years, there have been a lot of mistakes and a lot of lessons taken to heart, yet those lessons haven’t translated to actions
Obviously, you start with the fact that three straight seasons have ended in a Game 7 loss. The Bruins got ahead of themselves in 2009, when they fell behind 3-1 to an underdog Carolina team before pushing that second-round series to the limit. No one has to rehash how things went last spring after the Bruins started grabbed a seemingly insurmountable lead on Philadelphia.
Even their historic collapse of last season didn’t seem to faze the Bruins this year. They’ve squandered their share of leads late in games, including famously falling in Montreal in overtime Jan. 8 after leading 2-0 with less than two minutes to play. Earlier this month, they gave up a 3-0 lead at Madison Square Garden. During the opening months of the season, it seemed like the Bruins were spotting the opposition a goal or two lead every night rather than taking the game to their foes early on.
Even in their current playoff series, the Bruins didn’t start playing their style of game and performing at an above-average level in some key aspects of the game until Game 3.
They’ve since managed to dig out of their 0-2 hole and pull within one victory of advancing to the second. A lot of the talk in the Bruins’ dressing room during the two days off between Game 5 and 6 centered around what the Bruins learned from last season. Of course, they all repeated some form of this cliché: “the fourth win is always the hardest.” Similar sentiments came from the Bruins’ mouths last spring from the time they went up 3-0 on the Flyers.
Let’s face it, though, what are they supposed to say? They have to say they believe they have the proper killer instinct, even if only their actions can prove it. They have to speak and act as though they’re not taking anything for granted, even if taking victories for granted has been their undoing the last several seasons.
Until they do put the final nail in the coffin without a struggle, the Bruins can’t be considered closers. It’s worth noting that in each of their last two season-ending series, they were the higher seed and couldn’t finish things off. Sure in 2009 they swept Montreal, but that was a Habs team in disarray playing for a general manager/interim coach that seemed to have lost a handle on the club.
Last season the Bruins closed out the Sabres in Boston without returning to Buffalo for a Game 7. That speaks to one of the most impressive characteristics of recent Bruins teams under head coach Claude Julien – resiliency. Their ability to thrive as underdogs or when others are counting them out is impeccable. They’ve battled through major injuries to the likes of Patrice Bergeron, Marc Savard, Marco Sturm and others over the years and won division titles and earned playoff berths. The Bruins are impossible to count out when the odds are against them.
Success, however, tends to sidetrack Julien’s Bruins. Satisfaction and complacency seem to easily seep in when things are going well. Perhaps before they take the ice in Montreal tomorrow, the Bruins should summon the resiliency that they tap into when the chips are down and pretend as though they’re the ones fighting for their lives rather than the club trying to close.
Because if they don’t figure out a way to end things early in Game 6, the Bruins’ season would come down to a coin-flip-like Game 7. Anyone like the Bruins’ odds in another Game 7, regardless of the opponent or the venue?
Considering the results of their latest playoff appearances, the Bruins have a right have the same butterflies in their gut that their fans are probably feeling. The only way to kill those butterflies is to turn their talk about killer instinct into some series-ending actions at the Bell Centre in Game 6.