Many observers of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final, including those in the St. Pete Times press box, would probably use more profane words to explain how the Bruins blew a 3-0 lead to Tampa Bay and let the Lightning tie the series at two games apiece.
That type of gut reaction to another defeat in this roller-coaster postseason is natural. But as we all know, the best thing the 2010-11 Bruins is bounce back.
Not to take anything away from the Lightning, who upped their aggression and tweaked their breakouts enough through the neutral zone to maximize their speed and keep the Bruins chasing all over the ice. There’s no doubt, Tampa Bay played its best game.
On the other hand, over the final 40 minutes, the Bruins couldn’t have been much worse in terms of moving the puck and withstanding the Lightning’s forecheck. The tying and winning goals were the direct result of blatant giveaways by Tomas Kaberle and Milan Lucic, respectively. Tampa Bay’s first score was aided by Tim Thomas’ poor decision-making with the puck behind his own net.
Where have you read lines like this before? The Bruins coughed up to the puck numerous times on the way to their losses in Game 1 and 2 of the first-round series with Montreal. Game 1 of this Tampa Bay series was also a bow-wrapped gift to the Lightning.
Yet, here we are four games deep in the conference final and the Bruins are still standing.
There’s no need to panic, no need to pout and no reason to head for the nearest bridge. The necessary adjustments will be made and Thomas will get back on his game. When they put their mind to it, the Bruins’ first-line trio of David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton usually comes back with a monster game after a performance like their two-shot outing in Game 4.
Lots of questions in the postgame locker room today included the word momentum. The trick is, there is no momentum one way or the other with these Bruins. Even in sweeping the Flyers, every single game featured its own style, its own flow and its own identity. You never got the idea that because something happened in one game it will reoccur in the next.
Every game has had different heroes and goats from the last. That’s the beauty of this Bruins club that possesses an all-for-one mentality and strives to pick each other up when a slump strikes a star forward or a turnover bug bites a defenseman.
Some of you are going to think I’ve gone loony for writing this after one of the most disastrous defeats in postseason history. Losing a 3-0 lead in any game, let alone a playoff game, is rare. The Lightning sure made the Bruins look like they didn’t belong the same ice as them over the final 40 minutes.
Nonetheless, Game 3 looked quite the opposite. Although the final score was just, 2-0, it sure seemed like a more lopsided victory for the airtight defense and opportunistic offense the Bruins flaunted two evenings ago.
You have every reason to expect that Monday in Game 5, the Bruins of Game 3 will re-emerge. Or even better or differently solid team will take the ice.
Their “paralyzed” state isn’t likely to last more than just the couple hours it took today to cough up a game. There’ll be different pivotal plays, leading men and controversial calls in Game 5. And there’ll be different adjectives to describe the action when it’s done. None of what happens in that game, however, will have anything to do with the first four contests.
That’s the way the Bruins go about their business. Win or lose, it’s the perfect formula and it’s one that’s paid off so far.