The Boston Bruins have gotten to the point where they’ve solved Carey Price and the shot blockers in front of him and have countered the Montreal Canadiens’ speed with their physical play. They have them right where they want them entering Game 6 Monday night at the Bell Centre.
That said, they still need to finish the job. To do that, they need their killer instinct.
Under Claude Julien, the Bruins are 6-9 in non-Game 7 clinching scenarios. One of those losses includes a Game 6 defeat against Les Habitants three years ago to force a seventh and decisive game 24 hours later at the TD Garden.
Recently, however, the Bruins have been able to finish off their opponents on the first series clinching attempt – last year in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins and their Game 5 clincher a few weeks ago against the Detroit Red Wings.
Unlike their Game 6 encounter three years ago, the Bruins don’t want to give the Habs another opportunity to pull off the second round upset in Game 7. A win would send the B’s to their second straight Eastern Conference Finals appearance – their third in the last four years – against either the Penguins or the New York Rangers.
Despite their third period comeback in Game 2, the Bruins got off to a slow start in the first three games against the Habs. That’s been a different story in the last two contests as Iginla and company have dictated the play.
Still, the B’s could tinker a few things before Game 6, even after what was arguably their best performance of the series in Game 5. Even Iginla’s line, that also features Milan Lucic and David Krejci, could kick it up a notch – in front of a hostile environment – after a solid performance from the trio on Saturday.
“We know how tough it’s going to be going into the Bell Centre,” said Lucic, who had a game-high seven hits in Game 5. “We’ve just got to go out there and, like I said, have the right mindset in playing our game and trying to execute our game plan.”
The fourth win is the hardest one to get. It’s the most rewarding one though, and the Bruins need to treat Monday’s contest as a must-win. Because their opposition, after playing one of their worst games of the postseason, will be coming out with desperation.
“It’s basically a must-win game. I mean, you can’t sugarcoat it – it’s going to be a tough game,” said defenseman Johnny Boychuk. “We have to battle hard and they’re a great team. We have to be prepared for everything. They’re going to be putting everything on the line and we shouldn’t be expecting anything less because they’re a good team and we better be prepared.”