BOSTON — After defeating the Montreal Canadiens in a grueling seven-game series in the first round, the storylines began for round two with the Philadelphia Flyers in town, one year after the Bruins’ historic collapse in which they lost four straight after taking a 3-0 series lead.
After taking a three games to none lead for the second year in a row Wednesday night in Game 3, those storylines shifted to how the Bruins and Flyers were two different teams from a year ago.
After Friday’s 5-1 win in Game 4, the Bruins don’t have to worry about those storylines anymore, advancing to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 1992.
“I thought you meant you were talking about last year,” joked Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton when asked about the importance of getting the win and not going back to Philly after Friday’s win. “I mean, it’s kind of an obvious point that if we win tonight we’re going to get a little bit more rest than having to go back there. So…you shouldn’t need that motivation this time of year anyways. Everyone likes rest, but I think the big thing was we just wanted to close out the series.”
“We really didn’t want to go back to Philly,” echoed Brad Marchand, who scored one of the two empty-net goals for the Bruins in the series clinching win Friday. “If they were to steal tonight we would have had to go back to Philly and anything can happen. It’s not a place we wanted to go and it was nice to win in front of our own crowd because they were right there with us.”
Over the course of the series, the Bruins were talking about how they put last year’s events behind them. Its pretty safe they weren’t only talking the talk, but they walked the walk.
“I really thought this year we were just focusing on our game and our style,” said captain Zdeno Chara, who is one of only nine members from last year’s squad that is still with the team. “To be honest, no one was really talking about last year. We were just really trying to stay focused and taking it one game at a time and do our best.”
Now the Bruins can look ahead to a date with the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference finals.
During the regular season, the Bruins took three out of four meetings, two of which ended in a one-goal victory.
But as they say, those regular season stats are thrown out the window come playoff time. Moreover, both teams, after facing adversity in the first round, cruised in their second round sweeps of the Flyers and Capitals. Which is why the Bruins look to put this series behind them.
“It’s been since ’92 since they’ve been in the third round. It’s a big deal for our organization,” said Bruins forward Milan Lucic. “Obviously, we’re happy on what we’ve done so far and we want to enjoy that.
“But come tomorrow, we’ve got to get right back at work and focus on the task, with a great team in the Lightning that are playing really good right now.”
Now that the historic collapse is forgotten, the Bruins hope that history will be made.