Game three of this series was an embarrassing and unacceptable performance form the Bruins. The Lightning lit the lamp seven times and dictated the pace of play throughout the 60 minutes.
With their backs against the wall, and facing the daunting possibility of being down 3-1 in the series, the Bruins needed to find their touch in a hurry. Unfortunately, game 4 showed Boston fans more of the same.
What went wrong?
Tampa Bay again outperformed, outworked, and outclassed the Bruins. The game started to snowball on Boston after Ondrej Palat buried a goal after a slick feed from Brayden Point halfway through the first period. 5 Black and Gold sweaters in the vicinity and none of them were able to put a body on Palat.
Then the real back-breaker came. Palat fired a shot that bounced off of Jaroslav Halak’s glove and in during the middle of the 2nd period. The announcers expressed what every New England fan felt. Halak had to stop that shot.
Just over a minute later, Nick Ritchie took an ill-advised run at Yanni Gourde. The late, greasy board by Ritchie left Gourde laying on the ice. Ritchie was assessed a 5-minute major.
Boston was working hard to kill off the penalty and build some momentum. Instead, a Victor Hedman rocket deflected off of Par Lindholm and into the back of the net. Halak never saw the puck drifting slowly in the air.
Up 3-0, the Lightning started playing too aggressive and found themselves killing 3 penalties. Unfortunately, the Bruins were only able to capitalize on 1 of these chances. Charlie Coyle made a great play to find Jake DeBrusk in the slot. 74 in Black then snapped the puck past Andrei Vasilevskiy. It would be Boston’s lone score of the game.
Coming back from 3-1 down in the series looks about as likely as the Red Sox making the postseason. Since the Bruins went up 3-0 in game 1, the series has been all Lightning.
Tampa Bay outscored Boston 16 to 5 from that point on.
The comeback under normal circumstances would be a tough ask, but the bubble brings up an entirely new factor.
How much fight do teams have when down so much in the bubble? In the first round, 6 teams faced a 3-1 series deficit. Only 1 team, the Montreal Canadiens, even forced a game 6.
That could very well be just a coincidence. Or it could show that this bubble is wearing on these players enough. Maybe they do not have the same fight if they know their consolation prize is going home to their loved ones.
The future looms
Hopefully, the Bruins lay everything they have on the ice Monday. There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding Boston heading into this off-season. Will Zdeno Chara retire? Will Torey Krug re-sign? What is the situation with Tuukka Rask? After the 2021 season, the Bruins roster could look a lot different.
Boston needs to show the pride that bellows throughout that locker room and not roll over in game 5. Loosing to Tampa Bay is not the problem. They are a great, well balanced, skilled roster. But these games need to be more competitive. If Boston is going to disappointingly bow out in the second round, the least they could do is put up a fight.
Story by Chad Jones
Follow Chad on Twitter @shutupchadjones