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BOSTON (CBS) – It was funny how during the consolidated regular-season schedule, the Bruins picked one particular slump in March to point to their being tired after so many games in so few days.
A team so susceptible to weariness probably should have done a better job of earning some time off Friday night in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against Toronto at TD Garden.
Instead, the Maple Leafs hung on for a 2-1 victory to force a Game 6 in Toronto Sunday night.
It took the Bruins nearly half the game to match the desperation of the backs-against-the-wall Maple Leafs, and by the time the Bruins started playing like it was May and not October, it was too little too late.
“I think we just weren’t prepared,” Bruins forward Brad Marchand said. “Maybe we thought it was going to be a little easier than it was going to be. They came out very hard and really put a lot of pressure on us, and we weren’t ready.”
Marchand turned in another lackluster game with no points and no shots on net. He’s been limited to just two assists in the series. Tyler Seguin was kept off the score sheet for the fifth straight game. Once again, it was David Krejci’s line that generated the only offense that counted, as Krejci, Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton cycled the puck, and Zdeno Chara provided the Bruins with their only goal when they were already down 2-0 in the third period.
Maybe this is some sort of plot for the Bruins’ forwards not named Krejci, Lucic or Horton to get going. The longer this series goes, the better chance they have to score. However, there’s also a great chance of losing. The longer this series, the more that gets left to chance. One has to just think back to Krejci’s injury in Game 3 of that horrific Philadelphia series in 2010 to remember that playoff series can turn on a dime. Without anything as catastrophic as an injury to a top player, the Bruins have already let Toronto back into this series.
Clarke MacArthur was scratched for two games. Now he’s scored in two straight. Tyler Bozak hadn’t scored in the series, but he got on the board. James Reimer was ridiculed after the overtime loss in Game 4 (not to mention the heat his wife took) but now he looks like he might have his Ken Dryden moment. His confidence has to be soaring after he stopped 43 of 44 shots.
“Yeah, we did get lots of rebounds I thought, some that obviously we didn’t, but there was a lot of chances that, myself included, we got to put it in the back of the net,” Bergeron said. “When you don’t like that, it gives them a chance to stay in the game.”
The Maple Leafs are in the game and still in the series. There’ll be little to no rest now for the Bruins, unless the unthinkable happens and they drop the next two games. They only have themselves to blame.
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com and also contributes coverage to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on Twitter @TheBruinsBlog.