Matt Vautour: Boston Bruins don’t look like a team capable of erasing 3-1 deficit


    TORONTO, ONTARIO – AUGUST 29: Zach Bogosian #24 of the Tampa Bay Lightning checks David Pastrnak #88 of the Boston Bruins during the second period in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena on August 29, 2020 in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)Getty Images

    If the Bruins somehow come back and win their best of seven series against the Tampa Bay Lightning, they’ll be the rare team that’s accurate when they say nobody believed they could do it.

    There are very few reasons for optimism right now as the fun two-year run authored by this core of Boston players is precariously close to done.

    The Tampa Bay Lighting are younger, bigger, faster and they have a better goalie. That’s a hard combination to outdo. Maybe that wouldn’t have been true if the season hadn’t paused, but it’s where things are.

    The Bruins defensemen have struggled. Charlie McAvoy has largely had a good postseason when Victor Hedman isn’t caroming pucks off him into the net and when the Boston has had the lead, Zdeno Chara has been what he’s supposed to be – a lockdown, lead-protecting defenseman. But they haven’t led enough for that impact to matter.

    Brandon Carlo, who’d played very well before the pause doesn’t look right and Torey Krug hasn’t been the same catalyst he was a year ago or in March.

    The top line, especially Brad Marchand has been excellent, but Tampa has done a good job blunting previously hot David Krejci and the second line which looked ready to break out against Carolina.

    Charlie Coyle hasn’t gotten enough help from his rotating cast of underachieving third-line wings. Anders Bjork and Karson Kuhlman haven’t got going. Nick Ritchie hasn’t turned into the poor man’s Milan Lucic facsimile the Bruins were hoping for when they acquired him.

    Jaroslav Halak was never going to be Tuukka Rask. Rask was a Vezina Trophy finalist coming off an outstanding postseason run last year before the pandemic. But he didn’t have to be. When Rask opted out of the bubble, the Bruins just needed him to be the best version of himself that he’s been in Boston, but he’s been well below that too.

    If there’s going to be a resurgence it has to at least start with Halak. He doesn’t have to be amazing, but if he’s not at least good, the Bruins are going to quickly join Rask as outside the bubble residents.

    The Bruins have never come back from 3-1 down and only 29 teams in NHL history ever have. Boston has to go back to 2011 to find a series where it was down by two games and came back to win. The Bruins did it twice falling behind 2-0 to both the Canadiens in the first round and Vancouver in the final, but in neither situation did they risk elimination until Game. 7.

    Now they’re facing it three times. That’s a bigger test than they’ve passed in a very long time.

    “People have been in worse situations and come out on top. We just have to take it this one, one game at a time. Focus on that next game,” Coyle said. “That is all we can control right now. Come back and the mindset is to play a better game. There are some things we can work on and look at, some video. But just the mindset to focus on that next one and get a win.”

    Bruins’ goalie Jaroslav Halak struggling at a bad time as Boston faces long odds down 3-1 vs. Lightning

    Boston Bruins at edge of elimination, can’t dig out of another hole, fall to Tampa Bay Lightning, 3-1 in Game 4

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