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Game 4 preview; Bruins go for the sweep into the Eastern Finals

May 6, 2011

After taking a 3-0 lead against the Flyers last season and before losing in seven games, the Bruins nearly swept the Flyers. Mark Recchi tied the game with 32 seconds left in regulation before Simon Gagne ended it the 5-4 in overtime. From there the Bruins lost the last three games and haven’t been forgiven for the once-in-a-generation collapse.

Tonight the Bruins will once again attempt to sweep the Flyers but this time the situation is vastly different. The Bruins are the healthy team this time around and the Flyers lack that killers instinct.

Last year’s series was one of the tightest 3-0 series leads in history. The first game went to overtime, the second was a 3-2 Bruins win before a 4-1 win in Game 3. The Flyers had hope because they were so close to winning at least two of those three games. This year they’ve been blown out in Game 1, shut down by Tim Thomas in a closely contested Game 2, and thrashed again in Game 3. After Game 2 Peter Laviolette tried to rally his team through proclaiming that there was no pressure on them but it resulted in a 5-1 loss. It seems that this years addition of the Flyers doesn’t have the gusto that last year’s did. And how could they? They were only able to score two goals on Tim Thomas despite their best effort and have been hamstrung by horrible goaltending.

It’s widely believed that Sergei Bobrovksy will start tonight for the Flyers, and he should. He’s clearly been the better goaltender but Laviolette has stuck with Boucher, much to the detriment of his team. Bobrovksy could spark the Flyers if he makes some big saves early but if he lets in a goal in the first 10 minutes the Flyers could go quietly into the night.

As confident as the Bruins and their fans should be, they aren’t. Last year’s memory is too vivid and although the Bruins will tell you that they’re a different team with a different mentality, the sliver of doubt remains. The similarities in the media are certainly not helping. The media has already begun to talk about Tampa Bay and more or less guarantee victory, something I remember from last year. Maybe they should be confident but as an ultimate pessimist when it comes to Boston sports, I need to be proven to before I will believe.

If the Bruins drop tonight’s game the worry grows exponentially. Suddenly they’re heading back to Philly with a seed of doubt and if the Flyers take that game as well Game 6 becomes a must win. From there, anything can happen. Tonight’s a lot bigger than it should be.

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