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BOSTON -- Following a 2-1 loss to the Washington Capitals in Game 4 of their first-round playoff series on Thursday, the Boston Bruins wore frustration and bewilderment on their faces as they were left wondering what they could have done to beat goalie Braden Holtby more than once on 45 shots.
"We had so many chances that my line could have scored five goals easily," David Krejci told reporters after the game. "But we didn't so it's frustrating."
|The Bruins' dejection after scoring just one goal on 45 shots Thursday seemed to have passed by Friday.|
On Friday, the airwaves and Internet were full of Bruins fans and media expressing concern and pessimism about the Bruins' chances in what has become a best-of-three series, with Game 5 on Saturday at TD Garden.
But after coach Claude Julien shuffled his lines in practice in hopes of sparking the offense, any frustration from Thursday night seemed to have faded. There was no sense of panic from a team that erased 2-0 series deficits against the Montreal Candiens and Vancouver Canucks last postseason, staying even-keeled regardless of previous games and outside pressure.
"It seems to me that you guys [the media] are a lot more panicked than we are," alternate captain Chris Kelly said Friday. "It's a good hockey team over there. We're tied 2-2. We've scored seven goals, they've scored seven goals and I think it's been an entertaining series. Both sides have been good in their own end and both goalies have been good. So to me, that's the way playoff hockey should be.
"By no means is there any panic in this room and I'm sure there's no panic in their room. It's two good teams playing a best-of-three series now as opposed to a best-of-seven."
But if there's no panic with the Bruins, then why did Julien make the line changes Friday, moving his top two goal-scorers from the regular season -- Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand -- down the depth chart to the third and fourth lines, respectively?
"I don't know and really don't care. I seem to have my gray shirt (practice jersey) every day so I didn't notice," Kelly joked. "But to be honest, sometimes changing things up isn't a bad thing. I think the luxury with our team is everyone has played with one another at one point. Claude has lots of options, so why not use one of our strengths?"
Julien has coached enough playoff games to gauge the feel of a dressing room, and he agreed with Kelly's assessment, suggesting fans and media need to step off the ledge. This isn't a 2-0 series deficit, but rather a deadlocked series where both teams have been evenly matched.
"I think the outside is overreacting to stuff. It's a 2-2 series right now. We're not down in it; it's tied," Julien said. "We've done a lot of good things. At the end of the day, we just haven't scored. That's the only major issue right now that we have is the fact that we're not scoring.
"When you look at the game [Thursday], whether we had less hits than them, well when you play with the puck most of the night, they're going to be coming after you, you're not after them. So there's a lot of things that you have to look at to understand what makes sense here. I thought last night we did everything very well. We spent a lot of time in our own end, they didn't have a lot of scoring chances and neither did we. But we feel we can create a lot more than that."
The fact remains that of the 148 shots the Bruins have taken so far in the series, only seven have beaten Holtby. As Game 4 went on, Boston's shots became desperate rather than calculated. Frustration set in to the point where the Bruins weren't even entering the offensive zone with their trademark speed and aggression, leaving no time and space to create.
But as Marchand pointed out, the key will be to keep shooting and pressing. The Bruins admittedly were rattled and frustrated after Game 4, but Marchand said he didn't think the frustration would carry over, and there was a clear sense of optimism on Friday.
"There's not a lot of time and space out there and things happen really quickly and you only have half a second to make a decision whether you're going to shoot it or make a play," Marchand said.
"We're shooting and it's never a bad decision to shoot the puck. So we're doing a good job and we just have to keep going."