The Bruins haven’t had a real tough time of it since their opening series round against the hard-hitting Maple Leafs in which they battled to a Game 7 victory. Of course, we can look back at their second-round opponents, the Columbus Blue Jackets, and recall a time in which our hometown heroes were down 2-1 in the series before they went on to win the next three games and clinch the series. That was a particularly anxious moment for Bruins’ fans as the first three games were decided by just a goal, including two overtimes, but once the B’s rolled to a 4-1 victory in hostile territory to even the series, the momentum took a palpable turn. Boston outscored the Jackets 11-4 over the final three games and that was that.
Carolina came calling for the Eastern Conference Finals but that was a team that had had the good fortune of meeting a tired Islanders squad in the previous round and were unprepared for the thrashing that awaited them in Boston. The Bruins breezed to a 4-0 series sweep and their Stanley Cup opponents, the St. Louis Blues, seemed like a more muscular version of the Hurricanes but nothing to keep them awake at night. Even the oddsmakers at some of the best online sportsbooks found over at Sportsbook Review, chief among them Heritage Sports, made St. Louis a slight favorite in Game 4 which seemed preposterous to those who had just witnessed Boston eviscerate the Blues two nights prior. But that’s why top online sportsbooks like Heritage make the lines and fans don’t.
Ah, but here we are, the series knotted at two apiece after St. Louis responded with a gritty 4-2 Game 4 victory on Monday night after getting torched 7-2 in the previous game. And thus, right now, at this moment in time, we all know that St. Louis is much more like Toronto and nothing like Carolina. Although one could pause and reflect that the B’s are in the same place they were after Game 4 against another physical team, the Columbus Blue Jackets, it should be noted that the boys from Boston were coming off of a 4-1 road win, not a 4-2 road loss heading back to Beantown.
The Bruins are getting perilously short on defense, with the injury to Matt Grzelcyk placing him on the sidelines after sustaining a possible, more likely probable, concussion in Game 2 and now captain Zdeno Chara still smarting from a puck to the face in Monday’s loss. Head coach Bruce Cassidy publicly called out his forwards to pick up the slack and finish plays in the offensive zone.
Cassidy had this to say in his postgame presser Monday night, “We’ve talked a lot about the defense here. Personally, I think our forwards have got to do a way better job with our [defense] out. The onus has to go on them. They’ve got to pull their weight in terms of puck support and helping out the [defense], finishing some plays.”
The Bruins coach then specifically addressed his thinning defense, “They’re young. You’ve got Clifton, you’ve got McAvoy, you’ve got Carlo, these kids are young. Torey [Krug’s] been around, and [John] Moore, but they’re not old, grizzled veterans, so we have to coach them up. That’s our challenge going into Game 5. We have to do a better job with them as a staff.”
Cassidy knows the right things to say and has done a sensational job inspiring the less lauded players on his roster. Boston has been able to continually roll out four effective scoring lines, which is no small task, but watching his team get outworked in Game 4 is an ominous sign for a team that normally forces the play, relentlessly forechecks, and isn’t afraid of sacrificing their bodies in front of a screaming slapshot. The venue shifts to Causeway Street on Thursday and then we’ll see if the Bruins will bare their claws or go into hibernation.