To preview Game 4 between the Bruins and Capitals (Thursday at 7:30 ET in Washington, D.C.), we play a game of 2-on-2 with ESPN Boston's James Murphy and Joe McDonald:
1. How physical do you expect Game 4 to be and do you worry at all about the Bruins losing their cool?
McDonald: The Boston Bruins played more of their style in Game 3 and won 4-3. The Bruins need to be physical in order to be successful, and you can bet they’ll be hitting hard early and often in Game 4 on Thursday. Coach Claude Julien has been preaching to his players the importance of discipline after the whistle, but still, the Bruins aren’t the type of team that will allow the opposition to push them around at any point during the game. If anything, the Capitals know they’ll need to be physical, too. With Boston holding a 2-1 series lead, I expect Game 4 to have plenty of controlled hate.
Murphy: The Bruins do have a habit of losing their cool at inopportune times, and opponents have preyed on this tendency in the past with some success. But based on the current climate of the NHL (eight suspensions heading into NHL action Wednesday night), the Bruins and Capitals will walk the line to avoid unnecessary trips to the penalty box and subsequent discipline. That being said, the Bruins won Game 3 because they played their game, bringing the passion and physical intensity they thrive on. They will do the same in Game 4, I believe, and they should be able to do so without crossing the line.
2. Tyler Seguin saw his minutes cut some in Game 3; what kind of any effort do you expect from him tonight?
McDonald: When Julien was recently asked about Seguin’s inability to produce in the early part of this series, the coach said he did not want to put any pressure on his 20-year-old leading scorer. Julien said they were more or less leaving Seguin alone, while guiding him to find his game. But Julien did juggle his lines a bit, moving Patrice Bergeron off Seguin's line and inserting David Krejci. Julien said he wanted the change to spark the individual efforts. Having Krejci in the middle between Seguin and Brad Marchand seemed to help in Game 3. In the first three games, Seguin has been held without a point, but once he can get on the board, it will give him confidence and he should be able to turn it on.
Murphy: In the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs, Tyler Seguin was an observer for many of the games, and thus far in the 2012 postseason, he has been a passenger. It is no surprise that Julien decided to decrease Seguin's playing time in Game 3, and if Seguin doesn't elevate his play in Game 4, that will continue. But in his second season in the NHL, Seguin has matured. He's not going to take offense to his coach's message; instead, he'll use it as motivation to improve. Seguin has acknowledged that teams have focused more on him as the season has gone on, and he still found a way to lead the Bruins in goals (29) and points (67). This game seems like the perfect opportunity for him to deliver again, and I expect he will.