By Bob Morello
Bruins in Pivotal Game 4
As the Record went to press last night (Wednesday), the Bruins were fighting to stay alive in their pivotal Game Four matchup hosted by the Toronto Maple Leafs. When our loyal readers have their copy of the Record in their hands, they will already know the outcome of Game Four. A victory on Wednesday would even the series at 2-2, but a loss would put the Bs in a very precarious, backs-against-the-wall position, down 3-1. Should Boston come up with a solid effort on Wednesday, they would be in great position to take this series over, as two of the three remaining games would be played on Garden ice. For the Leafs, they are still hoping to win a playoff series, something they haven’t been able to do since 2004.
In Boston’s 3-2 loss to the Leafs Monday, Tuukka Rask was good in net for Boston, but Frederik Andersen was outstanding for Toronto, making stop after stop with huge saves to shut down the Bruins offense. Possible game time decision as returnees to the Boston lineup were forward Marcus Johansson and defenseman John Moore. Both players would be welcome additions as the locals tried to even off their series at 2-2, before returning to Boston (Friday at 7:00pm) for Game Five. The Bruins were looking to create a bit of momentum themselves last night (Wednesday), currently trailing in their series with the Toronto Maple Leafs 2 game to 1. Monday night’s 3-2 loss at the hands of the Leafs had hopefully opened some eyes for Boston, as their inability to get their top line (Patrice Bergeron-Brad Marchand-David Pastrnak) going, proved to be a major problem. Coach Bruce Cassidy may look to make some adjustments to his lines, in order to keep his top trio away from the defensive pressure they faced in Game Three, mostly coming from Toronto’s John Tavares, Mitch Marner.
In other NHL Stanley Cup Playoff action, both the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Pittsburgh Penguins are probably still attempting to recover from the shock of each being swept in their first-round series. The Columbus Blue Jackets parlayed solid scoring with the outstanding goaltending of Sergei Bobrovsky to emerge victorious in their four-game sweep. For the Blue Jackets, this was their first playoff series win in franchise history, and they will now enjoy some rest and await the winner of the Boston-Toronto series.
The New York Islanders also had the luxury of riding a ‘hot’ goaltender, as Robin Lehner was strong in the Islanders’ net, making 130 saves while facing 136 Pittsburgh shots in the first-round series – while holding the offensive Pens to just six goals in the series. Knocking off the Penguins was surprising to many, but remember, the Islanders team allowed the fewest goals (196) in the NHL during the 2018-19 regular season, while amassing 103 points. Interesting is the fact that the Isles will next take on the winner of the Washington-Carolina series. If the Capitals win the series, which they currently lead 2-1, Barry Trotz, now head coach of the Islanders, would take on the current Stanley Cup Champion Washington, the team he led to the Cup victory last year as their head coach. First-round series in the Western Conference have the Vegas Golden Knights up 3-1 over the San Jose Sharks, as the Knights seek to find their way back to the Stanley Cup Finals. The Winnipeg Jets and the St. Louis Blues remain tied at two games apiece.