New England Sports React

On the Verge

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The B’s would love to put an end to the arrogant antics of PK Subban and his teammates tonight.

The Boston Bruins could not be in a more ideal situation.

Up 3-2 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals with the chance to eliminate the Montreal Canadiens on their home ice, the Bruins are right where they want to be. The question is, can they finish the job. There would be nothing sweeter than to finish off their bitter rival in front of their fans, of course, but doing so seems easier said than done. Sure, the B’s are flying high right now, having just played their best game of the series Saturday night in a 4-2 victory that was more one-sided than the final score indicates. But the Canadiens are not ones to give up on a series before the final whistle is blown. Remember 2011? Let me refresh your memory. The Bruins similarly held a 3-2 lead over the Canadiens in that first-round series, only to drop Game 6 in Montreal and barely squeak by in overtime in Game 7 (thank you, Nathan Horton).

This a different Bruins squad, don’t get me wrong, one that boasts more scoring prowess (especially on the powerplay) and greater line depth, but the ability to come back in the most adverse of situations is based more on mindset than talent (though getting a few more powerplay opportunities to capitalize on could certainly help the cause). If the Canadiens can engrave that in their thick skulls and keep the Bruins’ physical play from affecting their finesse game, they could certainly shatter the hopes and dreams of the B’s and their fans. The major roadblock for them, however, is that this Bruins team knows how to finish, especially in these playoffs. They put away Detroit when they had the chance to crawl out of a 3-1 series deficit, and based on the player interviews following Saturday’s 4-2 victory, they seem prepared to bestow the same fate upon Montreal.

In order to do so, they’ll need to show mental toughness. While the team appears to be focused on the task at hand, they need to prove it on the ice, with the crowd jeering and the officials likely against them. Don’t take stupid penalties. Stay disciplined. Play your game. And more specifically…Don’t let PK Subban get open looks at the net. Give Tuukka Rask the vision he needs. And get pucks on net any way you can (preferably with traffic in front), and put ’em up high. All are plans of attack Claude Julien is sure to drive home to his team before tonight’s game. If they heed his advice and put forth the effort they did less than two days ago, then the Bruins should have no problem dispatching the Canadiens and advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals. If they go into Montreal thinking that the series is already won, then you can rest assured they’ll drop Game 6 and possibly Game 7 as well. Let’s hope they adhere to the former.

-Ryan Hartley

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