Heading into this afternoons (4PM EST) game 5, the Bruins hold a 3-1 series lead after the huge 3rd period on Monday that saw Boston overcome a 2-0 3rd period deficit to score 4 goals in a span of 7 minutes to take a strangle hold on the series. Recovering from such loses can be hard, and especially hard in these playoffs (in a “bubble” in another city).
The task for the Carolina Hurricanes is, without a doubt, a tall one. Win 3 straight games vs a team that not only swept you in 4 games last year, but a team that , at least on paper, has more experience and skill up and down the lineup. It doesn’t get any easier without young superstar Andrei Svechnikov (lost late in the 3rd period of of game 3 to a leg injury) and likely veteran centre Jordan Staal (left the game in the 3rd of game 4 after a hit by Charlie McAvoy). One would expect Rob Brind’Amour to have his team ready to go for game 5, behind their Captain Justin Williams, Dougie Hamilton and Sebastien Aho. Those type of losses really sting, and the Bruins will need to be ready for the Canes to come out firing on all cylinders in a do or die game. Looks like Petr Mrazek will get the start in goal in place of James Reimer, a back and forth trend that the Hurricanes have used and are comfortable with.
At the other end, the Bruins are not without their losses. The very well publicized departure of Tuukka Rask has put Jaroslav Halak under the microscope. Halak has been mostly good outside of giveaway goal in game 3 and a couple “soft goals” in game 4, a reminder that, while a very good goalie he is not Rask. He will need to be better for the Bruins to close out this series and for them to push deep into these playoffs. David Pastrnak remains questionable for game 5, although Boston head coach Bruce Cassidy said he has a better chance of playing today. Pasta has been skating with the team, but I would anticipate them erring on the side of caution and going with the same lineup that has won the past two games.
The Boston Bruins have a veteran group that has been in these situations many times before and should be able to anticipate and handle the push back expected from Carolina. You lean heavy on your vets in these circumstances, and Chara, Bergeron, Marchand, and Krejci have all been to 3 Stanley Cup Finals (including last year) and winning it all in 2011. The majority of the team has also been through the grind of the 2019 playoffs, going to game 7 of the finals. Expect Boston to play their game, stay in their system and keep the momentum they have built going. These type of games often come down to goaltending, so another great test for Halak, and Mrazek is certainly capable of stealing games. Still, I look for the Bruins to weather the early storm and find a way to win what is likely to be a tight checking low scoring game through the first two periods. The flood gates could open, as the Hurricanes can’t leave anything on the ice as it is win or go home, but again these Bruins have been there, done that. Should be another great game, and another great test for Halak and this team as they try to push on to round 2.
LETS GO BRUINS!