Do the Bruins need changes heading into Game 7?
If you woke up thinking about 2013 again, well, you’re not alone.
As we inch toward the five-year anniversary of the most memorable come from behind win in team history, the Bruins are hoping for a repeat performance against the Maple Leafs in Game 7 Wednesday night at TD Garden.
No, even with Dave Goucher in town, we’re not talking about the replication of that 4-1 comeback. Instead, the focus is on making sure the Leafs don’t come back from a 3-1 series deficit for the second time in six years.
How did the Leafs get here? For one, Frederik Andersen stymied a Bruins squad that lacked a finish in Games 5 and 6. Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and the opportunistic Leafs took advantage of their chances, while their D gave the Black and Gold little breathing room despite allowing 78 shots on goal in the last two games.
So, the Bruins need to change something, right? Well, aside from reinserting Danton Heinen back in the lineup with David Backes and Riley Nash on the third line, that idea isn’t even in the Bruins’ minds.
“I think the team that changes the least for Game 7 is probably going to be the one that wins. Both teams seem to be on their principals and doing the things that help themselves win games, and we can’t throw everything out the window and try something new for Game 7,” Backes said following Wednesday’s optional skate at Warrior Ice Arena.
“We have to stick to our principals, and if we do that for 60 minutes…we’ve liked the way that we’ve had momentum in games and how we’ve carried the play more than they have. We just have to get the results and finish plays off when we get those looks, and if we do that, then again we’ll like the result.”
David Pastrnak, who has just one point since his hat trick and three assist night in Game 2, echoed that sentiment Tuesday when he was asked about the adjustments he needed to make to start scoring again. The response was quite animated.
“I’m not going to change anything,” Pastrnak said. “I’m shooting and getting my chances and the goalie makes [some good] saves. And I think that’s a pretty stupid question.”
Pastrnak provided one of the memorable soundbites of the series, at least from the Bruins perspective. But the little, if any, adjustments prior to Game 7 aren’t something Bruins fans want to hear.
Whether it’s inserting Ryan Donato into the lineup or starting Anton Khudobin in net over Tuukka Rask — who is just 5-12 lifetime in series-clinching scenarios — the local supporters are doing their fair share of Monday Morning Quarterbacking on sports radio and social media. The former scenario is a well-reasoned argument. The latter, even with Rask’s series-clinching scenarios, isn’t, (but don’t be surprised if the 2014 Vezina winner has a short leash).
But this isn’t about players performances leading up to Game 7. Instead, it’s about sticking to what got you there. That’s where the Bruins focus is, hence why Heinen is back in the lineup and not Donato, and why Rask is starting.
“It’s basically the group that we envisioned,” Bruce Cassidy said pregame, “and we trust this group to get it done.”
The Bruins have done a good job staying in that moment throughout the regular season. Only once did they lose three in a row during the 2018 calendar year. That took place late in the regular season where they lost four of five.
This scenario is different with quite different with the season in the balance. And while there’s a certain excitement to Game 7, the Bruins are staying in the moment, much like they did when things got tough during the regular season.
“Obviously you want to stay in the moment and don’t overthink stuff. So yeah, overexcitement is something you want to stay away from,” Patrice Bergeron said,” “but that being said, use that energy to your advantage.”
And maybe there’s a lesson to learn from that thrilling 5-4 overtime win on May 13, 2013.
“That was late in the game and we just played hockey. We got back and we executed the plays that we needed to execute, and we found some urgency and desperation,” Bergeron, who netted the tying and winning goals five years ago in Game 7, added. “So I think those are keywords for tonight, and obviously, the start is going to be huge.”