Boston Bruins

Aug 29, 2020; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins players engage in a scrum after a whistle during the first period in game four of the second round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

By Ty Anderson,

Fighting off elimination isn’t foreign to the Bruins. And fighting off elimination at Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena, even, where the Bruins have set up shop for a month now, isn’t foreign to this team.

It’s an experience Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy will hope comes through in a must-win Game 5 against the Lightning on Monday.

“We were in this building last year in the same dressing room we were in tonight facing a Game 6 against the Leafs that we had to win or we were done,” Cassidy recalled after Monday’s morning skate. “I think our guys overcame an early deficit and played really well. They’ve been through it. They know what it takes. Are they capable of delivering tonight? It’s going to take everybody.”

On that note, the Bruins will enter Monday’s game shorthanded. Fourth-line hitman Chris Wagner has been ruled out of action, while Sean Kuraly and Nick Ritchie are considered game-time decisions. Their uncertain statuses could come with a return to postseason play for both Anders Bjork and Jack Studnicka.

But for the Bruins, comfort in the uncomfortable will come back to the message and actions of their top talents.

Bruins center David Krejci said there was “no excuse” for Boston’s lack of shots in recent games (they’ve averaged just 26.3 shots per game over their three straight losses). Torey Krug said the Bruins are “true professionals” and play with pride. David Pastrnak, meanwhile, said he doesn’t fear the implication of an elimination game.

This is the kind of talk that a veteran group will happily deliver. But talking it and following through on it are two very different things, and the B’s know it.

“Our guys have been there and have overcome in the past,” said Cassidy. “Every year is a different year, different animal, different group of people in the room, different circumstances and clearly this year is no different.

“I don’t think our guys are afraid of the moment at all tonight. The question becomes, are we going to execute well enough, better than Tampa? Have more will than Tampa and do enough to win?”

The truth is that you’d hope that the Bruins are better than this. They almost have to be. To have the season they did, even with a four-month COVID-19 interruption, end with such a whimper, would go against everything we’ve thought to be the case with this group. It may also be their final kick at a Stanley Cup, with Krug a pending free agent, captain Zdeno Chara skating at 43 years old, and with the top of their roster a year older.

But those discussions will have to wait for at least another day if the Bruins are to survive.

“Our mindset has to be, let’s just play for one another, the group that’s in there, and worry about kind of where you were going down the road,” Cassidy offered. “Enjoy each other’s company tonight. Be grateful for having great teammates and keep the teammates together for an opportunity for a Game 6.”

Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.