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Bandwagon retreat

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff  May 11, 2010 08:23 AM

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It was an all-around stinker, no doubt.

From the coach to the players to the disinterested fans at TD Morgue, there's no shortage of blame to go around following the Bruins' 4-0 loss to the Flyers in Game 5 of their semifinal series.

The Bruins, a team that hadn't lost at home this postseason, looked more like the team fans fretted about during their monumental 10-game losing streak over the winter, a stretch that seemed so far away based on the intensity they brought to the Stanley Cup chase.

It didn't take long for a reminder.

The loss of David Krejci was probably the proverbial stake in the remote, yet high hopes of watching Zdeno Chara lift Lord Stanley's hardware 11 feet above the Garden ice, but it's no excuse for what we witnessed last night. Brandon Morrow showed more tenacity and determination across town than the Bruins showed on Causeway St. last night.

A lot of that is on Claude Julien, who needs flash cards and an abacus in order to figure out how to juggle his lines with the losses of Krejci and Marco Sturm, not his strongest selling point to begin with. As for the fans, as one Twitterer put it last night, "Pink Bear Nation." Maybe there's something to that. After all, what better time for peripheral fans to show up than a possible clincha in order to say they were there?

In the end though, blame falls on the players, who were simply out-gutted by the Philadelphia Flyers. Roll credits.

But please. Stop with the 2004 nonsense. On one hand, yes, the Bruins couldn't do a thing against Michael Leighton, who entered the game in relief of Brian Boucher, who suffered a season-ending injury to his ankle. On the other, they get to face a goalie in Game 6 who has one game (last night) under his belt since pre-St. Patrick's Day.

Then again, maybe he's well-rested.

Not to toot horns, but I predicted before this series: Bruins in 6, Canadiens in 7. And while I'm not supremely confident the Habs can manage to steal Game 7 in Pittsburgh tomorrow night, nobody expected them to do the same in Washington a few weeks back either. As for the Bruins, maybe Tuukka Rask will be sparkling in net tomorrow night. Had Julien benched him in favor of Tim Thomas before the third period last night, I'd be even more confident in a fire being lit under Rask. You think it did any good for Jaroslav Halak?

Worst-case scenario is the Bruins lose Games 6 and 7 while the Canadiens beat the Penguins to advance to the Eastern Conference finals. How nauseous we will all feel for rooting for Montreal then? They're supposed to be the team the Bruins can more easily handle in the Eastern Conference finals, right? Right?  

Didn't we say the same about the Flyers?

Really, Game 3 in this series is the only contest we can point to as the one in which the Bruins had complete control, and that just happened to be the one in which they lost their best player. Maybe it's a Game 5 thing, as the Bruins didn't look as badly as they did last night since Game 5 in Buffalo. Up until last night, that was arguably Rask's worst performance of the playoffs. Then he went on a four-game winning streak.

Still, Rask has now allowed nine goals the past two contests, the most he has surrendered in a two-game stretch all season. Marc Savard hasn't brought the scoring touch this team needs now with the loss of Krejci, and after last night, there better be an APB out for Patrice Bergeron.

But maybe it was just one game. Maybe.

If they don't come out determined to win in Game 6, then we get concerned. Cliché alert: In a Game 7 anything can happen and usually does, which is why atmosphere plays such a huge role. If the Bruins get the kind of crowd they had last night in a potential winner-take-all at the Garden, the Flyers are going to the Eastern Conference finals.

That's not going to happen. Bruins in 6. Habs in 7.

The bandwagon will be back open for business.

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About the Author

Eric Wilbur is a Boston.com sports columnist who is still in awe of what Dana Kiecker pulled off that one time in Toronto. He lives in the Boston area with his wife and three children. Comments and suggestions for the best Buffalo wing spots are encouraged.

Contact Eric Wilbur by e-mail or follow him on Twitter.

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