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No need to be alarmed by Bruins

Posted by Christopher L. Gasper, Globe Staff  May 11, 2010 12:55 PM

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300bruinsbench.jpgThat wailing siren, accompanied by a red flashing light, isn't signifying a Bruins goal. Nope, that's the panic button being sounded by hockey fans all over the Hub because a once spacious 3-0 lead over the Flyers has been reduced to a claustrophobic 3-2 advantage in this Eastern Conference semifinal series.

This series just got hairier than a playoff beard for the Bruins, following Philadelphia's 4-0 victory at TD Garden last night in Game 5. The Bruins are in the faceoff circle with ice hockey ignominy -- the possibility of becoming just the third team in the history of hockey and fourth in professional sports to blow a 3-0 series lead.

The Flyers, who host Game 6 tomorrow at the Wachovia Center, are certain that they'll be returning to the Garden on Friday night for a seventh game.

"We have two games left and we are going back home confident, said Ville Leino, who was credited with the first Philadelphia goal last night. "Obviously, we are believing that, and it is easier to believe now then when we were down 3-0."

This is all good news for the Bruins. What? Yeah, that's right, I said good news.

Anyone who has watched this Bruins team all season knows it doesn't handle expectations, success or being the front-runner very well. A disappointing 82-game regular-season told us that. In a way it was inevitable that the Bruins, as the higher-seeded club and presumptive favorite, would let the Flyers back into this series. This version of the Black and Gold is a team that plays better when it's counted out, not counted on.

So, last night's clunker, during which they mangled a clinching game worse than Mayor Malapropism did his speech to commemorate the new Bobby Orr bronze sentry outside the Garden, wasn't all that out of character. Neither would be a bounce-back win in Game 6 or a Game 7 victory on home ice to send our pucks protagonists to their first conference finals since the first George Bush administration.

Whenever the situation looks most bleak, the Bruins are at their best.

They endured a 10-game losing streak in January and February. Just when you were ready to write them off, they won their final four before the Olympic break and ended up winning six of seven. Everyone buried the Spoked-Bs when wanton Penguins winger Matt Cooke, who had concussed Marc Savard 11 days earlier, was allowed to skate through the rematch with only a perfunctory fight with Shawn Thornton, and the Bruins failed to get revenge on the scoreboard as well with a 3-0 loss to the Pens. They responded by closing the season with eight wins in their final 12 skates.

Some people just can't handle success. That's the Bruins. They have to do everything the hard way. It was obvious last night from the jump. The Bruins came out and looked like the same, old Black and (fool's) Gold we watched skate for too many evenings during the regular season.

The boys were gripping their sticks tight and not moving their skates enough. They were outmuscled, outmaneuvered and outworked. It seemed like the Philly blades had magnets on them to draw in every loose puck.

"We lost battles from start to finish," said Bruins coach Claude Julien, whose team dropped its first game at home in the playoffs. "They were the hungrier team tonight, and when that happens you get those results."

The reality is that this series was never as lopsided as the Bruins' three-games-to-none lead would lead you to believe. After Marc Savard's welcome-back OT winner in Game 1, team sage Mark Recchi said he expected it to be a close, hard-fought, long series. That's exactly what it has become. It shouldn't come as a surprise that heading into Game 6 the Bruins and Flyers have each scored 16 goals a piece in the series.

The Bruins' win in Game 3 has proven to be costly because it cost them David Krejci, who was in the press box last night with a cast and a sling on his right arm because of the dislocated right wrist he suffered in the first period of that game.

Krejci's injury coupled with the return of Simon Gagne (if you're going to draw the parallel between the Flyers and the 2004 Red Sox, then Gagne is playing the Curt Schilling role of hobbled hero) from a broken toe has altered the offensive advantage in the series.

The Eastern European-descent line of Krejci, Milan Lucic and Miroslav Satan was the best for either team in the series, and was the Bruins' best line in the playoffs.

But the Bruins are used to playing without their big guns -- Savard, Lucic, Krejci and Patrice Bergeron, who missed eight games with a broken thumb, were all injury scratches at some point this season. It's just more adversity for a team that appears to be fueled by it.

"We've responded to adversity well throughout the whole year," said Recchi. "I didn't see [last night coming], but like I said this team has been through a lot together, and this is just another thing. Now, we got to go up there, and we got to win Game 6."

The word that Recchi used a half-dozen times as he held court in front of his Bruins cubby was desperate.

The Bruins' need to create desperation often leaves their fans feeling exasperation.

However, that adage that a wounded bear is a dangerous bear is especially true with the now playoff-grizzly Bruins.

So, don't be spooked, the Spoked-Bs have the Flyers right where they want them.

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The word

Christopher L. Gasper riffs on the news


...That's what the Patriots have when it comes to picks in the 2013 NFL Draft, which starts Thursday. After all those years of stockpiling picks the way a survivalist does non-perishables the Patriots have just five picks in this year's draft, thanks to Band-aid trades for Albert Haynesworth, Chad Ochocinco and Aqib Talib. Five picks would be the fewest draft picks in franchise history. (Part of that is attributable to the trimming of the draft to just seven rounds in 1994). Further complicating matters is that two of the Patriots' greatest needs are at wide receiver and cornerback, positions where they have sustained draft droughts. With that in mind, I'm convinced the Patriots are going trade back out of the first round of a quanity-over-quality draft where you're just as likely to pick a Pro Bowl player in the second and third round as you are in the first round.

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