Boston Bruins seek series lead in crucial Game 5 showdown


Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Montreal Canadiens (2-2) vs. Boston Bruins (2-2)

Time 7:00 p.m.

Location: TD Garden

TV/Radio: NBCSN/98.5 The Sports Hub

The Boston Bruins will look to utilize home-ice advantage on Saturday night, as they look to take a three-games-to-two series lead over the Montreal Canadiens in Game 5. The opening two games of the series were split at TD Garden. Montreal took Game 1 in double overtime. Boston emerged victorious in Game 2.

Having earned a gritty, hard-fought, overtime win on Thursday at the Bell Centre, the momentum is back on Boston’s side. Tuukka Rask had his best showing of the series in the win and the Bruins, as a team, played their best hockey of the series.

As expected, this series has been brutal, physically taxing and highly entertaining. A loss for either side would result in an elimination game. With Game 5 likely being another slugfest that goes down to the wire, the Bruins would surely benefit from a breakout effort from their top scoring line.

Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Jarome Iginla have been ineffective for most of the series. Boston’s second line propelled the team to victory in Game 2. Then in Game 4, an unlikely hero in Matt Fraser, netted the overtime winner. With the stakes now amplified tenfold, a big game from Claude Julien‘s top trio could very well blow things open.

“They just have to find their rhythm again. I think right now they’re working hard, it’s just a matter of time here. Certainly we have seen them at their best and a little bit of adversity is what they’re facing now. They’ve been as steady as we could have asked this year so to me, it is just a matter of time and they will find their groove again,” said Julien when asked about the play of his top line.

Max Pacioretty has been silenced by the Bruins. Pacioretty was a dominant offensive force all season long. If the Bruins stifling defense can continue to bang him around, they’ll increase their chances of winning. Though the same goes for Tomas Vanek. Vanek was having his way prior to Game 4. Zdeno Chara roughed him up and his game seemed to fade. Those two must be kept in check.

Despite a strong Game 5, the Bruins know there is plenty of room for improvement. Limiting the mistakes, focusing on the basics in the offensive end, and capitalizing on scoring chances more frequently could do wonders for the Presidents’ Trophy winners.

“Well we’ve been better and I think there is no doubt. I don’t think our team is playing badly at all, I just know that our team is still capable of playing a little bit better than what we have and has shown so far. But that is not even close to say that we are not playing well, we are playing well. We just, I think, there is still some potential in our team to play even better,” said Claude Julien following practice on Friday.

A strong start from the Bruins, behind an energized home crowd, could potentially spell trouble for the Canadiens. Rask is fresh off his fifth career playoff shutout. With him seeing the puck extraordinarily well, another strong performance is likely in store.

“He has no confidence issues. He is hard on himself but he never gets rattled that way. If anything, he shows a lot of resiliency and determination to be better and that is what he did yesterday. Was his game perfect? Well I mean, a shutout says a lot. Some saves he had to work a little harder at than others but he was good and to me that is what he has been to us all year,” said Julien on Friday when asked about Rask.

But most importantly, Boston is hopeful to remain out of the penalty box. They did a great job of it in Game 4. If the referees allow both sides to go at it in a physical manner, it will surely benefit the Bruins in the grand scheme of things.