Wednesday, May 8, 2013
B's need second line to step up
By Joe McDonald
TORONTO -- There has been plenty of focus on the Bruins' top line during their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against the Toronto Maple Leafs, and that won't change for Game 4 Wednesday night at Air Canada Centre.
The Bruins' Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Nathan Horton have combined for 17 points in the first three games, which is a big reason that Boston holds a 2-1 series lead. However, the Bruins will need contributions from Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin, which was Boston's most consistent line during the regular season but has been quiet in this series.
Besides an assist for Marchand, Bergeron and Seguin remain pointless against the Maple Leafs. The importance of creating a more balanced scoring attack is critical for Boston's success.
"It's important," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "When we look back where we had success, it was one of those situations where we got balance scoring, but it didn't always come at the same time. When one line was hot one series, the next line took over the next series, and so on and so forth. We realize we've gotten a lot of scoring out of that Krejci line; it's been really good for us."
Boston's third line of Rich Peverley, Chris Kelly and Jaromir Jagr was better in Game 3, and the team's energy line of Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton has been good, too. The Bruins are waiting for Bergeron's line to chip in offensively.
"They've had some chances, but they haven't capitalized, so no doubt they can be a little bit better, and we're counting on that," Julien said.
Defensively that line has been sound, but it needs to add more offense.
"We're at our best when all four lines are going," Seguin said. "Our line, we want to contribute more than we have as far as results."
In the playoffs, the teams that are rewarded are the ones that play well consistently, and all four lines need to be rolling in order to stick with the game plan. The Bruins were able to do that in Games 1 and 3 and hope to continue in Game 4.
"You want to keep up any momentum, keep up any pressure, and it's extremely important. Playoffs are won with mental strength and with consistency, and you'll pay dearly if you don't have it," said Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference.
Boston's Stanley Cup playoff experience has been a factor in this series. Toronto has not been in the playoffs since 2004, and many of the young Leafs players are still adjusting to the speed of the game at this time of the season.
"Each single game we're getting better and better adjusting to the tempo and speed of the game and just exactly how things work in the playoffs. This is probably our biggest one of the year as of right now, and we just have to make sure to come out hard," said Leafs forward Nazem Kadri.
If the Bruins win Wednesday night, they can close out the series in Game 5 Friday night at TD Garden. When Toronto coach Randy Carlyle was asked about playing Game 4 with that kind of pressure hanging over the team, the coach said he would rather focus on the positive aspects of his team's game.
"We can't, and we will not focus on the negatives," Carlyle said. "We're about flushing of the last game. It's over, and our focus has to be on the positive we brought out of the game, and we're going to try to build on it tonight. As far as what happens if, that's not the reality of coaching right now. When you're in these situations you always try to bring the positives out in your group, and we feel that there is a long list of them we can provide our players. Are there areas of improvement? Sure. We know that, and we've talked about it. Now is the time for us to prepare and focus on the task at playing the game tonight at the highest possible level. We know we have to play better than what we played the other night, and we expect Boston to continue to play to their levels, so it should be a good matchup."