|06.24.13 at 2:39 pm ET|
High humidity and temperatures in the 90s outside for a second straight day are hardly the ideal conditions for good ice for Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals.
But that’s what both the Bruins and Blackhawks will be dealing with Monday night in front of a loud and fired-up Garden crowd, whose energy will only add to the heat.
“Well, obviously with some fans in the building tonight, it’ll get obviously warmer,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “I thought the ice this morning was in pretty good shape, and they’ve done a good job. Walking in here yesterday with 90-plus degrees it was nice and cool in the arena.
“But those doors are going to open I would imagine and some of the heat will come in. But those are conditions that you have to play with at this time of year. Everybody has been through it, and two teams are going through the same conditions. Both teams are going to tell you the same truth; keep the game simple and try and avoid those mistakes from overhandling pucks in those kind of ice conditions.”
Chris Kelly, who was outspoken about the patchy ice conditions after the Bruins won Game 3, provided the best perspective.
“It’s June, late June,” he said. “You expect it. I think even up in Canada it’d still be warm. If the ice is going to be bad, it’s going to be bad for both sides. You expect that. I think the pretty plays might not always be there because of the ice conditions.”
What’s the most important thing the Bruins can do tonight to handle the ice and the Blackhawks?
“I think managing the puck, putting it in a better situation so we can get it,” Kelly said. “Just making better plays. I think our puck management can still be a bit better.”
|06.24.13 at 2:14 pm ET|
Bruins players spoke to a jam-packed room of reporters in comically large media scrums after what might have been their last morning skate of the season. They answered their questions, sounded optimistic, but Milan Lucic sounded tired of his own words. He looked, pretty obviously, like a guy who just wanted to get back on the ice for Game 6.
After all, the Bruins know their situation: Win and it’s Game 7. Lose and it’s over.
“When you’re in a moment like this, there’s definitely nothing to save it for. You don’t come this far to lose, right?” Lucic said. “It would have been easy to quit two months ago in that Game 7 in Toronto to get ourselves through that game. There’s no reason why we can’t dig deep and find a little bit extra to get us through this one.”
Added Lucic: “This is where players are remembered the most. You’ve got to find it within you to do whatever you can. You never know when you’re going to be back in this situation, and you’ve got to make the most of the opportunity that’s given to you. Right now you’ve got to view this as an opportunity and try to do everything you can to force a Game 7.”
The Bruins came back against Toronto in the most unfathomable way possible. If they’re trailing by three goals midway through the third on Monday (or maybe Wednesday), you can bet that they’ll be toast. Still, the lesson in Toronto’s collapse is that anything is possible. Both teams will have the rosters they’ve had throughout the series (Patrice Bergeron and Jonathan Toews are in), so the Bruins don’t need to worry about anything but coming out of Game 6 with a win.
How might they do that? Getting better looks against Corey Crawford would be a start. The B’s outshot the Blackhawks in the early going of Game 5 (the Blackhawks held the overall edge at 32-25), but they didn’t pepper his glove side the way they did when they scored five against him in Game 4. Lucic says the B’s need to take whatever chances they can get.
In general the Bruins could stand to get more out of the top line of Lucic, David Krejci and Nathan Horton. Though they produced a goal in Game 5, the members of the line have yet to score since Lucic’s two-goal performance in Game 1.
Consider the circumstances of their most promising period in a while. The Bruins had the Blachawks on their heels at points in the third period and saw the Krejci line produce a goal, but they were able to do that with Jonathan Toews not in the game. The Krejci line scored against the Bickell – Kruger – Kane line on a Zdeno Chara blast, but given that the Blackhawks were mixing and matching without this season’s Selke winner, the Krejci line played against the Kane line and also Dave Bolland‘s line in the third. Still, you’ll take results either way, and though Chicago got that goal back on a Bolland empty-netter and sealed up Game 5, Krejci was encouraged by his line’s third period.
“I think we had a great third period,” Krejci said. “Maybe the best in the whole finals. We’ve got to try to build on that and bring it to tonight’s game from the first minute to the end.”
Krejci still leads all playoff skaters in a landslide with 25 points (the next guys have 19), but he has yet to go off in the finals like he has in series past — most notably, they could use some production like he had in the first round. After having 13 points (five goals, eight assists) against the Maple Leafs, Krejci has put up four points in each of the last three series: four assists against the Rangers in five games, four goals against the Penguins in four games, and four assists against the Blackhawks through four games.
If the Bruins are to push this to seven, more offensive output from their top line would go a long way.
“We need to do more. We’ve definitely talked about being better,” Lucic said. “We’ve been playing well throughout the whole playoffs, and we’ve talked about [how] there’s no reason we can’t bring our best in situations like this.”
|06.24.13 at 2:05 pm ET|
Sometimes the greatest motivation can be one of fear.
In this case, the Bruins want to avoid the indignity of having a visiting team skate around on Garden ice holding Lord Stanley above their collective heads.
Faced with an identical scenario two years ago on a Monday night, the Bruins came out and throttled Roberto Luongo and the Canucks, 5-2, forcing a Game 7 back in Vancouver two nights later. It’s a scenario Tyler Seguin recalled Monday morning in the Bruins morning skate at TD Garden.
“Obviously, it’s do or die,” Seguin said. “We’ve been here before. We’re excited to play here on our home ice and make sure the Cup isn’t seen out there.”
Ironically, the Blackhawks were in this similar situation three years ago in Philadelphia, needing only to win Game 6 on Flyers’ home ice to clinch the Stanley Cup title. Patrick Kane scored the most bizarre Cup-clinching goal in history, beating Michael Leighton on a goal down the left wing that no one in the crowd saw go in the goal just over five minutes into overtime.
The Bruins and Blackhawks have both proven over the years they can handle the pressure. Who prevails in Game 6 this time?
“I think a night like tonight, you just really want to be focusing on playing on your toes and not sitting back,” Seguin said. “Any nerves, you're using that as energy. We're in our own barn here and playing for a lot more than ourselves and our teammates, so we definitely want to come out strong.
“Every game has been close. I think we said from the beginning of the series that it was going to be a long one. Here we are in Game 6 and we're on the end of the stick that we didn't want to be on. Hopefully, we'll climb our way out of here and get a win tonight.”
“We have so many guys in this locker room that have been here before and in this situation, and for us it's just all about mentality and making sure that we're ready to go,” added rookie Torey Krug. “I think we got the kinks out of our game this morning. We've watched video. We understand what we're going to get out of Chicago, and now it's just about taking care of ourselves.”
Seguin is one of those who need to step up their game offensively in Game 6. He joins a list of others, including Brad Marchand, Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic who are desperate to rediscover their scoring touch in time for the Bruins to keep the series alive.
“I think I've been trying to shoot a bit smarter as of late,” Seguin said. “Not too many pointless shots. Tonight, I'm going to go out there and just try a little different tape job and go back to some junior roots and see if we can spark something there. But again, I just want to keep shooting, keep creating opportunities, and I think our lines has still done a decent job.
“You got to find the spots and eventually you're going to get one nice, little break. Whether it's a puck popping right to you in the slot or going backdoor and just being in the right spot. I think for me, when it's coming out of the corners, I have to make sure I'm getting to the net and making sure I have my stick down and try to bump one of those in.
|06.24.13 at 12:29 pm ET|
Bergeron, who left Game 5 with a 'body injury,' did not participate in the morning skate prior to Game 6 Monday night. However, if Bergeron is unable to play, McGuire said he thinks that the Bruins can have success without their assistant captain.
'They can come back from it,' McGuire said. 'It's a big loss, but they can come back from it. This is one of the most resilient teams I have seen in the last seven years in the NHL. They are unbelievably resilient. So they can overcome it. It won't be easy. I think everybody knows that. But I could see them overcoming it. This is where your core leadership steps in. This is where Dennis Seidenberg and Zdeno Chara, Milan Lucic take it to another level and everybody else follows.'
While Bergeron did not participate in the morning skate, McGuire said that it is a good sign for the Bruins that the 28-year-old center took the flight back from Chicago to Boston between games, because that may eliminate the idea that he suffered an internal injury.
'If you have a punctured lung, if you have a lacerated spleen, if you have any kind of internal — and this is from talking to doctors; I'm not a doctor but I've talked to doctors about it — if you have any type of internal injury like that or the potential for a punctured lung, they can't put you on an aircraft,' McGuire said. 'It's just too dangerous. The fact that he was able to get on an aircraft and fly back home, I think that is positive more than negative.'
Without Bergeron and his defensive skill in the lineup, it puts more work on the shoulders of Chara, who has struggled in recent games. Chara is minus-5 in the last two games despite recording a goal and two assists in the process. McGuire said that Chara's struggles are a result of good strategy from Chicago.
'You want to make the bigger person go back and get the puck,' McGuire said. 'You want to put some physical pressure on him. You want to get him out of his comfort zone. If Zdeno Chara is allowed to get into a comfort zone, he can dominate a game. So Chicago has done the right thing by attacking him.
'The guy that has made probably the biggest difference on that has been Brian Bickell. Again, in-series adjustments by Chicago and Joel Quenneville by putting [Patrick] Kane and [Jonathan] Toews together, but also putting Bickell on that line and creating a snow plow effect so that that big body can go around and start bouncing some Bruins players.'
|06.24.13 at 11:59 am ET|
Things are looking up for a couple of banged-up Selke winners, as Bruins coach Claude Julien said in French after Monday’s morning skate that Patrice Bergeron “will play” Game 6 after leaving Game 5 with an undisclosed injury, while Jonathan Toews skated Monday for the Blackhawks and told reporters he’ll play as well.
Bergeron was not on the ice for morning skate, but Julien gave the encouraging update following his absence.
“Patrice will dress for warmup tonight,” Julien said. “I’m feeling confident he will play.”
Asked the same question in French, Julien responded (translated), “Patrice will play tonight.”
Both Jay Pandolfo and Jordan Caron took turns on the fourth line in morning skate, with Soderberg centering the second line in Bergeron’s absence. Julien said that if Bergeron is out and Soderberg plays on the second line, he will have decisions to make on the fourth line. As such, both Pandolfo and Caron will both take part in the warmup.
On the Blackhawks’ end of things, Toews took part in morning skate, two days after the Chicago captain missed the third period of Game 5 following a hit from Johnny Boychuk. Marian Hossa, who missed Game 3 but has played the last two games, was not on the ice for morning skate. Hossa’s absence shouldn’t come as a surprise, as he has missed morning skates despite remaining in the Blackhawks’ lineup.
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|06.24.13 at 10:45 am ET|
Bergeron left Game 5 with an undisclosed injury, but it is likely not the spleen injury that Sportsnet reported given that he was able to fly to Boston on Sunday. With Bergeron not at morning skate, Carl Soderberg centered Brad Marchand and Jaromir Jagr, with Kaspars Daugavins also taking a turn on the line.
The lineup in morning skate was as follows:
Lucic – Krejci – Horton
Marchand – Soderberg – Jagr
Paille – Kelly – Seguin
Pandolfo/Caron – Peverley – Thornton
Chara – Seidenberg
Ference – Boychuk
Krug – McQuaid
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|06.24.13 at 10:15 am ET|
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning to talk about the Bruins' mindset entering a Game 6 elimination game.
With potentially one game left in the season, Thornton said the Bruins are going to need a sense of urgency in order to keep the Blackhawks from raising the Stanley Cup in Boston.
'It is human nature,' Thornton said. 'The survival instinct kind of kicks in. Whether you notice it or not while you are out there, I think you give a little bit more. That's why they always say the last game is the toughest game to get. Let's hope that is the case again tonight for us.'
The Bruins were in this situation in 2011, as they topped the Canucks, 5-2, in Boston before winning Game 7 on the road, 4-0. While Thornton said the B’s have confidence that they can stave off elimination thanks to that prior experience, that doesn't help them win unless the sense of urgency shows itself.
'We know that we have done it before, so the experience helps give you that knowledge that it can be done,' Thornton said. 'But at the end of the day, what we did before doesn't really matter if we don't bring it on the ice. We've got to go play a hockey game, like you said.
'We kind of approach it as you've got to win one game twice. So, tonight, just focus on winning tonight and once you get to a Game 7, if you get to a Game 7, it is a whole different ballgame. So we are focused on just winning tonight. Win one game.'
With the series on the line, Thornton said he expects Claude Julien's pregame speech to be more of a motivational one. At the same time, Thornton said that extra motivation already will be there for the Bruins.
'I'm sure tonight it will be a little bit more than just the X’s and O’s,' Thornton said. 'I don't know yet. I don't know if it will be a [Vince Lombardi] speech, but I think there will be a little bit of chatter. You shouldn't have to do that at this stage of the playoffs, either, though. If you can't motivate yourself to get up for a Game 6 elimination game in the Stanley Cup finals, I think you're in the wrong business.'
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