Commentary

Four keys to Bruins winning Game 4

What Boston needs to tie up its playoff series against Montreal

Updated: April 21, 2011, 10:20 AM ET
By Joe McDonald | ESPNBoston.com

MONTREAL -- The Boston Bruins have a chance to even their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series with a victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night at Bell Centre. Boston trails the best-of-seven series 2-1.

The Bruins spent Tuesday and Wednesday in Lake Placid, N.Y., to get away from any distractions in Montreal and prepare for Game 4. Bruins coach Claude Julien kept the team on the ice for more than an hour on Wednesday and was pleased with the results.

"We were touching up our game in all aspects -- forecheck, breakouts, power play," Julien said. "We're just hoping to get better every game."

The Bruins crawled back into this series with a 4-2 win in Game 3 here Monday night, and Julien said he doesn't believe in momentum in a series like this; his advice is take it shift by shift and period by period.

As cliché as that sounds, he's right. With that said, here are four keys for the Bruins to focus on for Game 4:

1. Getting a head start. As the Bruins learned in the first two games of this series, getting the early lead is a major factor. In Games 1 and 2 in Boston, the Canadiens scored first, completely locked down defensively and did not allow the Bruins to capitalize. Boston scored early and often in Game 3 and that led to victory. The way the Bruins were able to score first in Game 3 totally took the Canadiens fans out of the game, and the roaring Bell Centre was quickly quieted. The Bruins will need to continue that in Game 4 or they could find themselves in a 3-1 series deficit heading back to Boston for Game 5.

2. Converting on the power play. A team in the playoffs is only as good as its power play. It's all about special teams this time of the season, and the Bruins have struggled on the PP in this series, going 0-for-12. Fortunately, Boston's penalty-killing unit has been solid, allowing only one power-play goal on 12 chances. Julien spent a lot of time on the power play during Wednesday's practice, and he even tweaked his units in hopes of creating a spark.

3. The top line. The Bruins' top line of Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Nathan Horton needs a big game. Both Krejci and Horton scored a goal each during Game 3, but Lucic has not registered a point in this series. Lucic admitted he needs to be better and he'll have to prove it in Game 4.

4. Thomas' saves. Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas has no doubt made some big saves in this series, but the goals he's allowed have been suspect. Fortunately for Boston, Thomas made timely saves in the third period of Game 3, and he admitted on Tuesday that those saves were a big boost to his confidence because he knows a few of the goals he's let in were tough to give up.

Joe McDonald covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com.

Joe McDonald

Reporter, ESPNBoston.com

SPONSORED HEADLINES

EDITORS' PICKS

MORE NHL HEADLINES