Bruins need speed burners for Game 6
|05.11.09 at 6:14 pm ET|
WILMINGTON -With so much focus on the intensity and nastiness that has been cranked up as the result of Game 5 between the Bruins and Hurricanes, one small detail is getting overshadowed.
The Bruins finally found a way on Sunday to contain the speed of Carolina’s attack. Their reward was a plane flight Monday afternoon bound for Raleigh, where they play Game 6 on Tuesday night.
Duplicate Sunday’s effort on Tuesday and the Bruins will bring the series to a Game 7 back in Boston on Thursday night.
“I think our backs are still against the wall,” Milan Lucic said on Monday at the team’s practice facility at Ristuccia Arena. “They’re still up 3-2 going into their barn. There’s pressure in every game of the playoffs, it doesn’t matter what side of the fence you’re on. We’re the ones with our backs against it.”
Lucic and his teammates didn’t practice Monday. They didn’t need to. All they needed was a workout and a reminder from the coaching staff of what worked and to do it again in a far more hostile environment at the RBC Center.
“I think puck races and puck battles are a big part of the forecheck and wanting to get in on it,” Lucic said. “You’ve got to give them credit. They’ve done such a good job of it throughout the whole series. We found it yesterday and we’ve got to keep it going.”
While a physical game works for Shawn Thornton, he knows that how the Bruins handle the energy in the building in Game 6 will go a long way to determining if they come back to Boston for Game 7.
“I think we’re going to have to bring even more the next game,” Thornton said. “We’re going into a tough building to play in and they’re going to have a lot more energy so it’s going to take a lot more out of us than what we showed last game.
“Our D did a good job of being up in the play and helping out and I think our forwards did a good job of moving their feet. They have a lot of speed over there and it’s not easy to contain. Guys did a good job of sticking to the system in the last game. We’re going to need a lot more of that in Game 6,” Thornton said.
Dennis Wideman along with captain Zdeno Chara, picked up his game in Sunday night’s 4-0 win, helping to move the puck up through the neutral zone, keeping it away from the likes of Eric Staal, Ray Whitney and Eric Cole.
“We just did a better job,” Wideman said. “We just executed our systems a little better than we had earlier on in the series and I think we slowed them up a little bit coming through the neutral zone. We expect it’s going to be a lot hard the next game to do the same.”
Wideman knows that the fans in the RBC Center will only serve to re-engergize the already potent and high-flying Canes.
“Anytime teams go home, they always seem to come with a little more speed and a little more comfort of your own barn and having your crowd behind you,” Wideman said. “I’m sure they’re find an extra gear and we have to be ready to match it early.
“We did a better job of holding onto the puck. I think earlier on, we were just whacking it around a lot and we were feeling pressure. They were coming at us hard. And I think we did a better job of holding onto the puck and making a play to an open guy whereas the last couple of games we kind of panicked a bit and threw it up the wall. That took away from us getting any kind of speed through the neutral zone,” Wideman added.
Michael Ryder knows how important neutral zone speed is since he is one of Boston’s best at carrying speed between the blue lines.
“I think we were a lot smarter there,” Ryder said. “We weren’t really letting them get their speed and that’s what we wanted to do the first four games. I think that’s the main reason we had a lot of success. We played really well in the neutral zone and we created a lot of turnovers and we had the puck more.”
That’s not to say the Bruins will give up on being physical just because they’re on the road.
“I think it’s both,” Ryder said. “We still have to be physical. It’s one of our strengths and stopping their speed is a big issue. They like to free-wheel and especially in Carolina, that’s when they play really hard and the fans get behind him. It’s about being patient, not being too quick and staying with the system.”
Head coach Claude Julien felt like his team had been given new life. But it’s what they do with that life that matters on Tuesday.
“I don’t know if I want to use the word swagger,” Julien said. “Obviously, we’re feeling better about ourselves. That’s where I would put it. We’re definitely feeling better about ourselves. We still realize our backs are against the wall. But going into (Tuesday’s) game, we’re certainly feeling better than we did going into (Game 5) because we knew (consequences) if we didn’t pick up our game. Now we know that if we pick up our game, the results are there.”