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Bruins can only hope home ice is advantage it was in ’11

Posted By DJ Bean On June 17, 2013 @ 1:04 pm In General | No Comments

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The Bruins outscored the Canucks 17-3 over three games in Boston two years ago. (AP)

Two years ago, home-ice advantage was the second-biggest factor in the Stanley Cup finals, just behind having a sane goaltender.

After the Canucks took the first two games of the Stanley Cup finals with wins that were decided in the final seconds, the Bruins came back to Boston and blew Vancouver out by a combined score of 12-1. They won all three home games that series by a combined score of 17-3 before finally winning a road game in Vancouver in Game 7. Dennis Seidenberg remembers the atmosphere of the Garden being “crazy” for those games.

It obviously won’t be that way this time around. For starters, the first two games were split, although they did come down to the wire, just like Games 1 and 2 in Vancouver. The idea of the Bruins torching the Blackhawks in blowout wins like they did the Canucks now that they’re at home? You shouldn’t bet on that either. The Blackhawks are far too defensively sound a team for that to happen, so the Bruins should expect these games to remain close. Maybe they won’t go into overtime every night, but this series has been something of a stalemate.

“Who knows?” Seidenberg said of games being closer in this series than the last time they were in the Cup finals. “It’s tough to predict what’s going to happen tonight, but we have to focus on our game. We have to come out a little better than we did and we’ll see what happens.”

The argument can be made that it took Aaron Rome‘s hit on Nathan Horton to fire up the Bruins with them trailing by two games, as Game 3 was scoreless in the first period. Then Horton went down, and after the Bruins lifelessly struggled to get anything going on their five-minute power play, they came out after the intermission and scored 11 seconds into the second period.

The B’s can only hope that they don’t need an injury to get them into this game, as they were fortunate to escape Saturday’s Game 2 against the Blackhawks with a victory given that they weren’t into it early on.

There’s no excuses for them not being sharp and dialed in Monday, as they’re back on their ice, in their own time zone and with their own fans. They also know that, after splitting in Chicago, the majority of the remaining games in the series will be played in Boston, so they need to use that to their advantage.

“We pride ourselves on playing the same way at home or away, but playing in front of our fans definitely helps emotionally,” Seidenberg said. “They’re really loud, they’re rowdy, it’s a fun place to play and we feed off of that.”

From a strategic standpoint, Claude Julien now has the last line change, meaning he can match his offensive lines and D pairings against Joel Quenneville‘s however he likes.

“There’s no doubt it makes it a little bit easier, but it doesn’t mean it’s going to happen all the time, but it certainly is a lot easier,” Julien said. “Joel’s a pretty good coach, smart coach. When he senses something, he’ll take advantage of it. I had to be extra careful in Chicago with that. But, again, tonight hopefully it’s a little easier. Nonetheless, we’re in the finals here, you’ve got to do what you got to do. Sometimes you may play guys a little bit more, but they’re capable of handling the ice time.”

One thing that would be pretty cool to see Monday: Rene Rancourt should go a cappella again on the national anthem and let the crowd sing it. Rancourt did so in the three games that followed the Boston Marathon bombings, but the crowd wasn’t into it the third time around on the team’s April 21 matinee against the Panthers, so the practice was stopped. Fans should be plenty into it Monday, and it would be a cool reminder of how well Boston has bounced back from all it’s gone through.


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