THE BRUINS can win the Stanley Cup.
There. I said it.
Now, the question is: Can they win yet another Game 7 over the Maple Leafs tonight at TD Garden?
Perhaps they need to fall behind first.
Fall behind? In Game 7? Sure, especially considering what this team tends to do when it faces adversity.
The Bruins didn’t blow the Leafs out in Game 6 in Toronto Sunday. But they did control the game with their proverbial backs to the wall. All season long, this team has reacted to adversity, playing much of its best hockey when things look bad.
Things look good now. The third Game 7 against the Leafs in seven years. The Bruins won the first two and you have to wonder how the Cup-starved Leafs (none since 1967) will fare tonight.
Now, to beyond tonight.
Going back to the start of this postseason, folks wondered if the Bruins would look past Toronto toward a second round with Tampa Bay, everyone’s favorite to win the Cup.
Well, while the Bruins have had all they could handle in the Leafs. Meanwhile, the Lightning were struck down in four straight by the Traveling Tortorellas from Columbus. No more Tampa Bay, and the Bruins have as good a chance as anyone to win the whole thing.
The Bruins tied Calgary for the second-highest point total during the regular season. Now, the B’s are the only ones standing among the top three.
After Sunday’s game, coach Bruce Cassidy said, “To me, it’s the best game we’ve played. I thought in Game 2 we were very good, I think it was an ornery response from a … just not a typical Bruins Game 1 playoff. Today was more the way we wanted it. We wanted to keep pucks alive with our (defense). I thought we were attacking the net better, just more overall of our identity.”
Now, they have to do it in Game 7.
The Leafs have lost five straight road Game 7s dating back to 1995. According to Boston.com’s Jon Couture, during that stretch, road teams are 48-44 in Game 7s.
Brad Marchand played another great game Sunday but then said he is worried about playing the seventh game at home.
“They’ve played really well in our building so far this series and the ice has been terrible there so we might as well play with a tennis ball, skate around and see who can bounce one in the net,” he said.
The TD Garden ice is often poor and has been ripped by opposing players. Remember, this is a building that seems to have a different event every night.
Sunday’s road wins by the Bruins, Celtics and Red Sox led reader Anthony DiNardo to ask: “I’m curious to know the last time three Boston pro teams earned victories on the same day AWAY FROM HOME?”
Well, here’s the answer:
From @bostonsportsinfo, prior to Sunday’s results: “Boston sports fans have witnessed only ONE time, the Bruins and Celtics winning road playoff games, and the Red Sox winning a road regular season game on the same day. Today will make it 2? Only time: 4/13/1980.”
Some Bruins playoff numbers: Marchand leads with four goals and nine points and joins Zdeno Chara and Danton Heinen with a team-leading plus 3; Marcus Johansson and John Moore are both minus-4 in four and three games, respectively; Patrice Bergeron has won 61.87 percent of his faceoffs but was 10-for-11 on offensive zone draws Sunday, including 4-for-4 on power plays; Tuukka Rask has a 2.54 goals-against average and .921 save percentage.
Sit and wait
Celtics voice Sean Grande doesn’t see the second round starting for Boston until next weekend, likely Sunday in Milwaukee. “Network time slots and building availability run the show,” tweeted Grande.
The first-round sweep of the Victor Oladipo-less Pacers has to come with some perspective, and it starts with Indiana not having Oladipo after surviving down the stretch by overachieving without their star. Looking at it the other way, it appears Gordon Hayward is finally back to being Gordon Hayward, and that has to matter going forward.
The Celtics spent the regular season struggling for identity. The playoffs meant playing without Marcus Smart and we know from last year this team plays well with important parts missing.
Hayward was clearly thrilled with his return home to Indiana, hoping to have finally left last year in the rear-view mirror.
“Yeah, there’s nothing worse than sitting there and not be able to play in the playoffs especially,” he said. “So to be able to be with my teammates, be a part of something like this where we got a chance to sweep the Pacers, after everything that happened last year, it makes it all worth it — no doubt.”
Drafty in here
Oh, the Patriots. This is draft week.
NBC Sports’ Peter King did his mock draft (and we love mock drafts) and had the Pats selecting DT Jeffery Simmons of Mississippi State, but said, “I don’t think this is the likely Patriots pick, but I don’t know who is, and I wanted to get this great player in the first round. The second-best best DT in the draft (behind Quinnen Williams) till tearing his ACL earlier this year won’t be available to play until 2020, and he’s also got some personal rehab to do after a past physical altercation with a woman.”
USA Today has the Pats tabbing Mississippi WR A.J. Brown, saying, “Demaryius Thomas’ one-year deal doesn’t amount to much more than a flier for a New England team in need of receiving reinforcements. Still somewhat of an unknown entity as a downfield target, Brown should find his place in New England’s passing attack with his penchant for dominating in the short area.”
And Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer? Joejuan Williams, DB, Vanderbilt, Breer writing, “Bill Belichick is always looking ahead, and he mentioned in his pre-draft press conference the need to match up with bigger receivers and athletic tight ends. The Patriots have had Patrick Chung in that role for a while. They could find another, bigger version of him. And I think that’s what they’ll see in this guy, rather than just lining up as a corner like most are doing.”
Finally, as we wonder of the Red Sox did in fact turn a corner over the weekend in St. Pete, big news out of Foxborough: The Patriots will NOT be fixing the dent Rob Gronkowski put in the Lombardi Trophy “hitting” a Julian Edelman warmup pitch at Fenway. Said team spokesman Stacy James: “Maybe they’ll fix it down the road. That’s something they can always fix in the future, but at least for now, we’re going to keep the dent and tell the story.”