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Defying reality: Do Boston Bruins have reason to believe?

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Boston Bruins at Florida Panthers
Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Long odds, but the Boston Bruins are betting on themselves if they get to Game 7.

There is good news for those who believe in trends and are hoping the Bruins will find a way to extend their playoff run. 

The Bruins have gone the distance in three consecutive Stanley Cup playoff series, and have a golden opportunity to extend that run to four.

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As Boston returns to TD Garden for Friday’s crucial Game 6 clash with the Florida Panthers, any emotional boost they can find is good. That little bit of a history lesson is only part of the positive bump the Bruins have received for this affair. 

Adding more fuel to the fire, the Bruins kept their hopes alive thanks to an emotional, hard-fought 2-1 road victory on Tuesday. They trail the Eastern Conference semifinal series 3-2.

Oct 22, 2023; Anaheim, California, USA;  Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy (73) skates with the puck during the NHL game against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

“You never know with these things, and we needed that one,” said defenseman Charlie McAvoy, whose second-period tally broke a tie, holding up as the game-winning goal.

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The Bruins, who finished only one point back of the Panthers in the chase for the Atlantic Division title during the regular season but are decidedly the underdogs in this series, have other reasons for hope.

For starters, it is possible that captain Brad Marchand will return from the injury that sidelined him the past two games. Also of key importance is how goaltender Jeremy Swayman has elevated his game the past couple of outings; case in point, his 28-save performance on Tuesday, which included a perfect third period.

However, the omens on the other side of the coin are ominous and a hard slap of reality for the Bruins. 

History has not been kind to Boston’s past comeback attempts.

The Bruins have never won a series in which they trailed 3-1, having fallen short all 25 chances. And remember those previous three series that have gone to Game 7? Boston won only one of those, the opening round set this year against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Among the defeats was last year’s meeting with the Panthers.

Those are not the only reasons to bet against the Bruins taking this series the distance. Boston lost the first two home games during this set and dropped four of the last five on home ice.

More relevant points of concern are how they are struggling offensively. Only seven goals in the past four games. David Pastrnak, the 47-goal marksman during the regular season, has tallied just one during this round with the Panthers, not only struggling to light the lamp but struggling to even generate opportunities. Pastrnak did manage a series-best four shots on goal in Game 5.

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Boston’s power play — a huge key to the 3-1 series lead over the Maple Leafs — continues to struggle.

The Bruins have only one man-advantage marker this series and have netted only a single goal in the past eight games (1-for-18). 

Even with all those odds against them, the Bruins are well aware a home victory to force Game 7 would give them all the momentum for a winner-take-all clincher. 

“Never say die,” McAvoy said. “We are going home, and this series is wide open. Let’s go home and win a hockey game. You are not promised anything but the day you have. Go win the day.”

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