The Bruins entered the Eastern Conference quarterfinals as the No. 4 seed, guaranteeing home-ice advantage in their matchup with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
But playing at TD Garden has proved more troublesome than beneficial for the Bruins.
In Friday night’s 2-1 loss in Game 5, the Bruins failed to close out the series and dropped to 1-2 at the Garden in these playoffs. With a 3-2 lead, the Bruins will be tasked with trying to eliminate the Leafs at the Air Canada Centre in Game 6 on Sunday night.
Although struggling at home, the Bruins have thrived on the road, earning victories in Games 3 and 4 to take a 3-1 edge in the series.
“I guess you often think it should work as an advantage, but somehow it hasn’t,” coach Claude Julien said after Saturday morning’s practice at the Garden. “It’s really hard to explain why. Both teams are playing hard. We’ve played extremely well in Toronto and they’ve played pretty well in our building, as well. We hope that trend continues until [Sunday].”
Milan Lucic, who emerged from a prolonged slump with six assists in the first three games of the series, tallied three helpers in the Bruins’ 5-2 victory in Game 3 in Toronto.
He said he’s comfortable returning to the Air Canada Centre, but acknowledged how difficult it gets deeper in the series.
“It definitely gives you confidence that you can win in their building, but in saying that, as the series progressed, it gets tougher and tougher, and any team will tell you that the hardest win to get is that fourth one,” Lucic said. “It will be no different, but it’s a good feeling knowing you can win in that building, but you can’t take it for granted.”
The Bruins climbed out of a 2-0 hole in Game 4 with a 4-3 overtime victory, courtesy of a David Krejci hat trick, but couldn’t do the same in Game 5.
“Hopefully, we can bring a better game [Sunday],” Rich Peverley said. “They’re going to come out again, it’s a desperate game for them, but I feel we should have as much desperation if we’re going to learn from Game 5. There’s no reason we can’t go in there and play a really good game and give us a chance.”
Redden back on ice
After missing Game 5 with an undisclosed injury, defenseman Wade Redden practiced on Saturday.
Redden played 16:59 in Game 4, but the veteran was replaced by Matt Bartkowski for Game 5.
“We’re just going to take it a day at a time still and see how things go [Sunday] and make the choice then,” Redden said. “It felt pretty good, I’ve been feeling better, so that’s a positive.”
When asked whether an upper- or lower-body injury kept him out of the lineup, the 35-year-old offered little insight.
“One of those,” Redden said with a smile. “I’m going to keep it under wraps.”
Redden, acquired from St. Louis at the trade deadline, had a goal and an assist in Game 1, and has provided steady, smart puck movement.
Redden’s absence was felt in Game 5. Andrew Ference replaced Redden on the No. 2 power-play, and lost the handle on the puck near the blue line. The puck squirted away and Tyler Bozak chased it down and netted a shorthanded goal on a breakaway to give Toronto a 1-0 lead in the second period.
“I think it was more our team as a whole, but [Redden] has been a good player for us so far in the playoffs,” Julien said. “Poise, good posture, good vision, so did we miss that part of his game? Yeah, we did.”
Julien confirmed Redden’s status as day to day.
Left wanting more
Boston’s line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and Tyler Seguin, which combined for 44 goals during the regular season, has just one (by Bergeron in Game 4) in the series. “Their overall game is not there,” Julien said. “They can be better.” . . . Most of the team participated in Saturday’s practice. Forwards Krejci, Nathan Horton, and Jaromir Jagr did not skate, nor did defensemen Johnny Boychuk, Ference, and Dennis Seidenberg, and goaltender Tuukka Rask.