TORONTO — Tensions run high in the postseason. That’s just the way it is.
The Bruins came out of Game 2 relatively unscathed for all the physicality and ensuing talk of intensity. It’s been the entire narrative ever since the end of Game 1, when the B’s played an uncharacteristically uninspired game resulting not only in a defeat, but the team being absent of its identity.
That obviously changed in Game 2.
Things nearly got out of hand, but aside from one arguably questionable hit from Jake DeBrusk, the Bruins held their composure, and with barely needing a nudge from their head coach to stay in line.
“We don’t talk about that. We will mention that if it goes up, play between the whistles,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “We’ve got guys that have been around, they understand it’s going to go up. (Patrice) Bergeron, (Brad) Marchand, and (Zdeno Chara) have played a lot of playoff series, they’ve been in two finals, they know the temperature goes up. When we take a hit, you can’t just chase a guy down, you have to have some level of discipline. It’s not about getting a guy back that hits you, there’d be no players left on the ice.”
Toronto’s Nazem Kadri being out of the series helps settle things down regardless, but keeping calm is the approach for a team that already avoided potential disaster on the injury front.
Kadri met with the NHL in New York ahead of Game 3, and was served a suspension for the rest of the series for his crosscheck up high on DeBrusk in Game 2.
The Maple Leafs went with William Nylander at center on the third line Monday night in Toronto, their lines shaken up with the absence of Kadri.
“It effects their depth at center, for sure,” Bruins defenseman Torey Krug said. “It takes away a guy that plays at both ends of the ice and plays really hard. That being said, it doesn’t change our approach as a team. We still try to play the same way regardless of who is in or out of the lineup. That’s the way we approach it.”
For the second time in as many postseasons, the Bruins held down Leafs star center Auston Matthews, until his goal on Monday night.
“It’s like you don’t want to wake a sleeping giant, so we just want to play hard against him,” B’s defenseman Charlie McAvoy said. “But not focus too much on him or any particular player.”
The Bruins aren’t ready to go easy on Matthews quite yet, even with the results so far.
“He’s a great player, he’ll make something happen,” Krug said. “The more he plays it’s more likely that he’ll make something happen. We’ll continue to try and clamp down on him.”
The Lightning, with an NHL-record number of wins in the regular season, find themselves in a 3-0 hole to the second wild-card Blue Jackets in the first round.
It’s shocking to the entire hockey world, but it also is another indicator of how intense and wild playoff hockey is.
“Obviously, when you win 62 games, you don’t think you’ll go on a three-game losing streak,” Cassidy said. “That’s about my only opinion on it.
“Tampa clinches on what, Valentine’s Day they clinch a playoff spot. Columbus goes down to the wire, and all of a sudden they’ve got a leg up. You just never know. Good for (Columbus). They’re playing hard. They’re playing well.”
Connor Clifton missed Monday’s game after he didn’t complete Game 2, with Steven Kampfer making his NHL postseason debut and skating in Clifton’s place alongside Matt Grzelcyk.
Marcus Johansson missed his second contest with the flu and didn’t travel with the team to Toronto. John Moore and Sean Kuraly did travel, with Moore partaking in full during the Bruins’ morning skate before Game 3.