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Monday, May 13, 2013

Extremely Frustrating Results: It's Called Bruins

I'm not counting on it happening anytime soon but I hope that when I have children and I teach them to love the Bruins that by then, the Black and Gold have figured out a way to close out teams and series better. Boston's bad habit has sprung up yet again as Toronto erased a 3-1 series lead with a 2-1 win tonight in Game 6 at Air Canada Centre. That forces Game 7 tomorrow night (7 p.m., NESN) at TD Garden; winner faces Rangers/Capitals who are also locked in a Game 7 tomorrow night as well.

I have trouble logically explaining how the B's could pile up 15 goals in the first four games then only two in the last two games. Yes, James Reimer (29 saves) and his defensemen have improved while Tyler Seguin (0 points in the series) and Brad Marchand (2 assists) have been ghosts all series long. Still, what is it about Boston that made them lack urgency in Game 5 on home ice? At least the effort was there from the beginning tonight but much like the last few painful months of the regular season, they can't score a goal when it counts to save their life.

Tuukka Rask had 24 saves and it was 0-0 heading into the third period. Dion Phaneuf scored his first playoff goal in five years when he deflected Nazem Kadri's shot at 1:48. James van Riemsdyk had the second assist. Phil Kessel added his second game-winner of the series following a rebound at 8:59 from JVR and Cody Franson. For the second game in a row, it took an impossible 2-0 hole in the third for the Bruins to truly wake up.

The best you can say for Boston is that they saved themselves the indignity of having a nobody like Reimer shut them out. Milan Lucic tipped in Jaromir Jagr's pass with 25 seconds left in regulation. It was Lucic's first goal of the playoffs and Zdeno Chara had the second assist.

Boston won twice as many faceoffs (40-20) but Toronto had eight more hits (58-50) and 12 more takeaways (17-5).

Game 7 is when you have to be willing to try anything to get that most important victory of the season. We saw that later this evening as Detroit head coach Mike Babcock shuffled his lines (and this was after they won Game 6) and it paid off as the Red Wings won 3-2 in Game 7 at Anaheim. With that said, I'd love to see Bruins head coach Claude Julien give Jagr a chance on the second line with Patrice Bergeron and either Brad Marchand or Tyler Seguin. One of those last two guys deserves to be demoted to the third line since they've combined for zero goals and two assists (both Marchand's) this entire series. Yuck. Jagr is clearly sick of playing with scrubs like Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley since he doesn't even try to pass it to them anymore and who could blame him?

Julien, Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli and numerous B's should be feeling the heat to win Game 7 of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal (first round) series. The Stanley Cup win was only two years ago but it'll feel like a million if they choke this series away-on home ice no less-against an average team that has no business beating them in a seven game series. Boston has all this big game experience, tomorrow night would be a good time for that supposed advantage to kick into gear. Right now, the Leafs have all the confidence and momentum.

UPDATE 5/13: Andrew Ference is on crutches and in a boot so needless to say, he won't be playing tonight either.

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