BEDFORD, Mass. - The Boston Bruins thought they excised the specter of last season's postseason collapse when they finished off the Flyers in the Eastern Conference semifinals this year.
Yet here they are again, one round later, trying to turn back another comeback.
The Bruins will play the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of the conference finals on Friday night, with the winner earning a chance to play the Vancouver Canucks for the Stanley Cup. But Boston could have avoided a winner-take-all predicament if it merely had protected a three-goal lead in Game 4; scored more than one power-play goal a week in the playoffs; or kept Tampa Bay from scoring, as often as not, in the first 90 seconds of the game.
"We've got a Game 7, it's at home, and we're one game away from the Stanley Cup Finals. Why shouldn't we be excited?" coach Claude Julien said Thursday after stepping off the team charter at Hanscom Field outside Boston. "Our guys are not discouraged or disappointed."
Lightning coach Guy Boucher said he would start goalie Dwayne Roloson, who is 7-0 in his career in elimination games, instead of Mike Smith, who twice came on in relief during the series and started Game 5. Boucher also said Thursday he didn't expect Sean Bergenheim to be able to play in Game 7.
The Tampa Bay forward had been leading the league with nine goals during the playoffs - after scoring 14 during the regular season - but he missed the last two periods of Game 5 with an undisclosed injury.
Doug Weight retired Thursday after 19 years in the NHL, including a final season in which the New York Islanders captain was limited to 18 games because of a back injury.
The 40-year-old center will be staying with the team as an assistant coach and special assistant to general manager Garth Snow.