For all the good things the Boston Bruins have done in the playoffs in recent years — and there are many — one thing they’ve struggled with is closing out an opponent.
In fact, in the last four years, the Bruins are 7-11 with an opportunity to win a round, as they can tonight against the Pittsburgh Penguins at TD Garden.
Granted, four of those 11 losses came in one series against the Philadelphia Flyers in 2010, and the Bruins exorcised those demons the next year by winning it all.
This year, though, they very nearly blew a 3-1 series lead versus the Maple Leafs in the first round, and, while this may fall under the category of nitpicking, they couldn’t complete the sweep of the Rangers in the second round.
Naturally, Bruins coach Claude Julien was asked this morning about “another closeout opportunity” and how his team needs to play against a Pens side that will be fighting for its survival.
“I think we know how we need to play,” said Julien. “It’s about bringing it tonight.
“This is about one game. It’s nothing more than about one game, what we need to do here. So we try and minimize all the hoopla around everything and keep it to the one game, how we need to play.
“I mentioned yesterday that we didn’t play our best game last game. They played better. So we need to be a better team tonight.”
For what it’s worth, the last time the Penguins found themselves in an 0-3 hole with Game 4 on the road — in the first round of last year’s playoffs — they hammered the Flyers, 10-3, then went home and won Game 5.
Yes, they still lost the series, but they sure made it interesting.