NHL Playoffs 2012: Bruins, Facing Elimination, Have Tools To Win

Blame the refs. Blame Benoit Pouliot. Heck, even blame Tim Thomas for Saturday afternoon's loss to the Washington Capitals. But when it comes down to it, blame Braden Holtby.

Holtby now has better numbers than Thomas this post season -- he who was once called a third-stringer, playing for a team that barely made the playoffs. You can blame him.

But once you are done blaming and cursing the hockey gods for allowing him the breaks his team has had and the curses the Bruins have faced, take solace in knowing this.

They made him bleed.

Not physically, no, but they revealed a soft spot in the wall that can give Bruins fans everywhere a sense of hope and will alleviate some of the urges to wallow in misery.

In the second period, being down 2-0 after Alexander Semin and Jay Beagle ripped into Tim Thomas, the Bruins could have easily just wallowed in their own misery. They had seen this before, and the momentum had been ripped from their grasp.

But never discount the value of certain members of the team, most notably, Shawn Thornton.

That fourth line provided just the right amount of spark by doing, well, what they are supposed to be doing.

"You want to finish your checks and get pucks in deep and there was an opportunity to finish the check and that’s what we tried to do and created a little energy," Thornton said after the game. "And the guys did a good job of following it up and scoring two goals to tie it in the second."

With under three minutes to go in the second period, the Bruins did score two goals--two goals in 28 seconds. This happened a lot during the month of November and through the first half of the season. Bruins fans were almost accustomed to seeing that every game. But seeing it come against the otherwise blemish-free wall that Holtby has been is more encouraging than the loss is discouraging.

"We had a pretty strong finish against them that period," Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said. "We put a lot of pressure on him. We threw every puck on net. We had some traffic and we put those pucks behind. We have to continue to do that and it is always big in the playoffs to have that traffic and a lot of pucks in the net."

They know this song and dance. They have done it so many times. And now that they don't it's possible and they have the confidence, they just have to go do it.

In fact, that was their mantra last night in the locker room--just do it. When asked if their experience last year being in these kinds of predicaments would help them going forward in this series, they said yes, but that knowing they can do it, and just doing it are two different things.

"Knowing that we’ve been in these types of situations and responded well in the past can help to build confidence as a group, that we have what it takes to come back and do what we’re going to need to do to win this series if we want to move on," Thomas said. "But having said that, it’s up to us to do it, not just to know that we’ve done it before. So don’t think it’s just going to happen. We’re going to have to reach down deep inside of ourselves and find a way."

The Bruins face elimination today at 3 p.m. in Washington, as they take on the Capitals at Verizon Center for Game 6 in Washington, D.C.




For everything Bruins related, check out Stanley Cup Of Chowder. For more news, analysis, and discussion on Capitals hockey, head to Japers' Rink. You can also head over to the SB Nation NHL hub page for more on hockey news as the playoffs begin.

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