If the Boston Bruins were a "desperate" team before Game 4, what are they now? What's the right word?
The Bruins were given a day off by coach Claude Julien on Thursday to rest, reflect, refocus. They talked after the morning skate Friday of the need to outfight and outwork the Canes in Game 4, to square the series and take it back to Boston.
Instead, a 4-1 loss to the Canes has left them down 3-1 in the series and all but dumbfounded.
"I think our team has probably picked the worst time of the year to play their worst hockey," Julien said.
Now that's a way to inspire and rally the troops, give them the sense they can turn this thing back around. But Julien, a straight-shooter, was only being blunt and honest.
"That's what's happening right now," he said. "There isn't anybody who has played up to their potential. Obviously out of synch, passes are not crisp.
"You can see the frustration of the players right now and it's certainly getting worse."
The Canes are hoping it lingers for Game 5. With another victory, the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference will be playing in the Eastern Conference finals.
"It's now about Game 5 and we know going to be huge test in Boston," said the Canes' Eric Staal, who had a pair of goals and again was the most noticeable player on the ice. "Their backs are obviously against the wall, and the fourth one is the hardest to win. It's far from over yet."
While Julien groused, there was much for the Canes to like. Cam Ward did his job again in goal, with no bigger save than the one he made on P.J. Axelsson early in the first when Axelsson had a shorthanded breakaway.
Jussi Jokinen scored his third game-winner and sixth goal of the playoffs. His third-period score was one of two power-play goals by the Canes, who were 2-for-31 with a man advantage in their first 10 playoff games.
"The power play comes down to confidence," Canes coach Paul Maurice said. "When we go out with an idea we want to shoot the pucks, good things happen. Sometimes, we spend too much on the perimeter, and nothing is generated if we're not positionally sound."
The Canes also were relentlessly aggressive on the forecheck, time and again maintaining possession in the Boston zone.
"Obviously they're doing a great job forechecking," Julien said. "You've got to give credit where credit is due.
"Having said that, we're certainly not making it hard on them, either, with the way we're playing."