BOSTON, MA - The Bruins were off Tuesday with no practice, following their emotional 5-4 comeback overtime win Monday night that clinched their first-round series over Toronto, and set them up for a date with the New York Rangers in Round 2.
General Manager Peter Chiarelli was available to media, and gave his take on the comeback, the Bruins' depleted back end, young blueliners stepping up, Patrice Bergeron, and the second-round series with New York, among others.
Highlights from Monday night's historic comeback showed a spirited reaction from Chiarelli and the Bruins' management booth when Patrice Bergeron tied the game at 4-4, to send it to OT.
But, up until that point, the 4-1 scene looked grim for the Black & Gold.
"You want to try and chip away at it, so from up above you’re just kind of seeing the trend on the ice and hoping that it’s a positive trend for battles won, what the forecheck is, those types of things. I wasn’t seeing much of it, so my thoughts are I was fairly disappointed with where it was going," the B's GM candidly told media gathered at TD Garden.
BostonBruins.com - Monday night's historic comeback by the Boston Bruins over the Toronto Maple Leafs is worth re-living. Down 4-1 in the third period of the all-or-nothing Game Seven, with the summer air seeping into the TD Garden, the Black & Gold rallied back for one of the greatest comebacks in NHL history.
In fact, no NHL team had ever come back from being down three goals in a third period of a Game Seven. It had been 96 years in the making.
Of course, the Bruins know the other side of the coin, most of them having been through the 2010 collapse to the Philadelphia Flyers. But Monday night was their turn to reverse the tide.
Besides Matt Bartkowski scoring his first-ever NHL goal to get the Bruins on the board first, just 5:39 in, the next four Leafs goals and the next 45 minutes or so of hockey, are probably not worth re-living. But the beauty of sports, and the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and this Boston Bruins team, is that they didn't make it easy on themselves - which made the victory that much more victorious.
Here's a breakdown of how the Bruins mounted the greatest backs-against-the-wall Game Seven comeback in NHL history…
BOSTON, MA - It had never happened before in the NHL.
The Bruins are the first team in the league's 96-year history to win a Game Seven after trailing by three goals in the third period.
"It was an unbelievable feeling," said B's forward Brad Marchand in the locker room, after the Bruins had rallied back from a three-goal deficit against the Toronto Maple Leafs at TD Garden on Monday night.
Toronto led 4-1 with 10 minutes left in the third period. Nathan Horton's magic made it 4-2 at 9:18. Milan Lucic's will brought it to 4-3 with 1:22 left. Patrice Bergeron, being Patrice Bergeron, forced the overtime with 51 seconds left in regulation.
The belief was intoxicating. Six minutes and five seconds into the sudden-death OT, Bergeron completed the historic comeback, winning it 5-4 for Boston, and sending the Garden faithful into an absolute frenzy.
"Unbelievable" doesn't even begin to touch the surface.
BostonBruins.com - The Bruins are about to experience another Game Seven.
The players making up the Black & Gold roster have already been through the experience a combined 105 times. And they've been on both sides.
Eight of the winner-takes-all tilts, including tonight, have come since 2008 for Boston.
Two current Bruins, Captain Zdeno Chara, and Milan Lucic, have played in all previous seven, and are both expected to appear in their eighth tonight at TD Garden, after Toronto fought back from a 3-1 deficit to tie the series at three.
Talk that existed at the beginning of this series centered around the "inexperienced" Toronto group against the "experienced" Bruins. When the Bruins took a 4-3 overtime win in Game 4 on the road, to take the 3-1 series lead, "experience" in overtime was framed as a good enough reason for the B's coming away with the 'W.'
TORONTO, ON - The Bruins are now looking at their sixth Game Seven in their past seven playoff series. Its the 24th Game Seven in their lifetime. The last time they faced the Leafs in such a contest, it was 1959.
But the numbers are irrelevant. It's about one game, this year, Monday night.
The Bruins had two chances to close out the series, and those are gone - the latest coming on Sunday night in a 2-1 loss to the Leafs at the Air Canada Centre.
"Yeah, and it's still there," said Captain Zdeno Chara, of chance No. 3 still there for the taking. "We've just got to get ready for the next one. It's the biggest game of the series."
BostonBruins.com - With the clock hitting 10:27 in the second period of Friday night's Game 5 at TD Garden, Patrice Bergeron nearly broke a scoreless tie. But Toronto netminder James Reimer's right toe got a piece of the puck, point-blank, robbing him of the opportunity.
"I was kind of still turning, I just tried to go as fast as I could. Obviously I’d like to see that one again," said Bergeron, following the game. "It’s one of those things that in the moment you’re just trying to put it in the back of the net, but now obviously I had more time than I thought I had and it’s got to go in."
It was a glimpse of just how difficult its been this series for Bergeron's line, along with Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand, to find the back of the net. Heading into the playoffs, the line had talked amongst themselves, and to media, about how they were working to find their game, that they wanted to step up and contribute. With Game 6 tonight, that still remains the focus.
The trio has confidence to draw from - after all, there was a point during the regular season when the line combined for 41 points in 12 games. Marchand led the Bruins with 18 goals and 36 points. Bergeron and Seguin tied for second with 32 points apiece.
TORONTO, ON - Andrew Ference was the only Bruin not on the ice this morning for pregame skate at the Air Canada Centre prior to Game 6 tonight against the Maple Leafs.
Following the skate, Coach Julien said Ference did not make the trip to Toronto. He is out day-to-day - and hence, the defenseman stayed back in Boston to recover as his teammates look to close out the series.
"Obviously, didn't make the trip for good reasons," said Julien. "We're heading back home tonight one way or another - he's a day-to-day."
So, who will play in the vet's place?
"That will be a game-time decision."
While the forward group has remained consistent since Game 2 - and according to pregame skate, appears to be remaining the same for Game 6 - the back end will now be determined by game-time decisions.
BOSTON, MA - Friday night's Game 5 came, and went. The Bruins still have the upper-hand against the Maple Leafs, but now they're riding on a 3-2 series lead, as they head to Toronto to try to close it out for good.
In an effort to move past the loss, the Bruins held an optional skate at TD Garden Saturday morning, which was heavily attended. Only seven B's stayed off, including heavy minute-loggers Dennis Seidenberg, Andrew Ference, Johnny Boychuk, Nathan Horton, David Krejci and Jaromir Jagr. Tuukka Rask also remained off to rest, while Anton Khudobin was between the pipes.
Wade Redden, deemed out day-to-day on Friday by Bruins bench boss Claude Julien, was back on the ice with the team after being out of the lineup for last night's game.
"We're going to take it a day at a time still, see how things go tomorrow and make the choice then," said Redden following his skate. Coach later confirmed that the defenseman is still day-to-day.
"Felt pretty good. It's been feeling better, so that's a positive," said Redden of the undisclosed injury. "It's turned the corner. Obviously games are coming quick, so that's a good sign."
BOSTON, MA - Heading into Game 5 at TD Garden with the 3-1 series lead Friday night, the Bruins knew they would be facing a desperate Toronto team.
The challenge would be matching - and surpassing - that desperation.
The Bruins didn't get the jump they wanted off the start, and didn't find that desperation until midway through the second period, when they were staring at an 0-2 deficit on a night when they were supposed to clinch. Despite a third-period goal by Captain Zdeno Chara, they fell, 2-1, to the Leafs, bringing the series back to Toronto for Game 6 on Sunday night.
So, in this case, does the team facing elimination have the upper-hand, and the momentum?
"It’s about us, being desperate and finding a way," said B's alternate captain Patrice Bergeron, following the loss. "We knew they were going to come out hard, they did and now it’s about making sure we’re ready for Game 6."
BOSTON, MA - Well, this is what playoff hockey is all about, right? The Toronto Maple Leafs are facing elimination tonight at TD Garden, as the Bruins, leading the series 3-1, go for win No. 4 and a bid to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
And if it's anything like last game (recovered yet?), we're in for a great night of hockey.
"It's a do-or-die game for us tonight, too," said Brad Marchand, following the team's pregame skate. "We got to make sure we that we leave everything out there tonight. Hopefully, we can match their effort and have a good game."
For Toronto, it's literally a do-or-die, but for Boston, they're approaching tonight with the same mentality, not taking for granted the ability to close it out at home. They might not want to revisit past experiences, but they can certainly draw on them.
"We've learned both sides of the coin; when you don't close out a series and give a team life, how it can be a pretty dangerous fire to play with," said defenseman Andrew Ference.