Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports

Bruins looking for knockout punch vs. Maple Leafs

Ty Anderson
April 21, 2018 - 5:33 pm

The Bruins are off to a near-perfect start this postseason.

With three wins in their first four games this spring, the Bruins have the chance to bounce the Maple Leafs from the playoffs in tonight’s Game 5 in Boston. Given the way they’ve performed at home in this series, and after what had to be a backbreaking kind of Game 4 loss for the Leafs, seemingly everything is on the Black and Gold’s side.

But Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy is more than aware just how hard it can be to put teams away this time of year.

“Well if they watched games last night, which we did address, we try to stick to the game in front of us but two teams that went to the Stanley Cup Final last year couldn’t close out,” Cassidy, referencing losses by and in Nashville and Pittsburgh last night, said. “So, it’s difficult. We talked about how it’s hard to win in this league. It’s especially hard to win in the playoffs. I think they are aware of it. Hopefully they don’t overthink it, just go out and play and play the we need to need to play and to have success.”

The good news for the B’s hopes of a series closeout tonight above North Station comes with the expected return of first-line pivot Patrice Bergeron.

An extremely late scratch (about 30 minutes before gametime) from Game 4 with an upper-body injury, Bergeron was a full participant in the morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena, and is ‘optimistic’ that he’ll play after unsuccessfully pushing to play in Game 4.

Bergeron has tallied five assists in three games this series, and will once again be asked to stick himself to the Leafs’ Auston Matthews throughout the night.

And in an effort to spread his scoring out even more, Leafs head coach Mike Babcock will separate his one-two top-line punch of Matthews and William Nylander, sending Nylander down to the fourth line while Connor Brown rides to Matthews’ right.

“The bottom line is [the original line] wasn't going, we've got to change something and try to get it going,” Babcock said after Toronto’s skate at TD Garden. “Now, in saying that, if you go through the games, the games have been real tight. Except for the one that got away in Game 2, they've been tight right through the second period. It's not like there's a lot of change, if you're right in the game, things have been going pretty good. But, the bottom line is we're not scoring enough and we need to score.”

Toronto will also get a boost with the return of Nazem Kadri, who returns to action after serving the final game of his three-game ban for his dirty hit on the Bruins’ Tommy Wingels, and comes into play with two goals and six points in 14 career playoff games.

After trading steals in Toronto, it will once again be a Tuukka Rask vs. Frederik Andersen showdown in Boston. Andersen stopped 40-of-42 in his Game 3 victory, while Rask came through with 31 saves in a 3-1 Game 4 victory on Thursday. Overall, Rask has posted a .926 save percentage in this series, while Andersen has struggled with an .880 save percentage. 

The B’s are 18-2 all-time in series in which they’ve entered Game 5 with a 3-1 series lead. The Leafs, meanwhile, are 1-14 all-time when trailing a series 3-1.

“Have a good start,” B’s center David Krejci said when asked what the Bruins need to do tonight. “But stay in the moment, use the crowd.

"It's gonna be buzzing tonight, that's for sure.”

Puck drop will come at 8:18 p.m. tonight.

Here are the expected lines and pairings for the Bruins…

Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak

Jake DeBrusk - David Krejci - Rick Nash

Danton Heinen - Riley Nash - David Backes

Tim Schaller - Sean Kuraly - Noel Acciari

Zdeno Chara - Charlie McAvoy

Torey Krug - Adam McQuaid

Matt Grzelcyk - Kevan Miller

Tuukka Rask

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