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Bruins and Canucks: The little things lead to the big prize 06.13.11 at 1:50 pm ET
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It was a little thing – a little thing that Claude Julien works on often during practice. But on this Monday morning, the small detail of winning faceoffs could have a huge impact on who wins Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals.

Last Friday, in Game 5 in Vancouver, the Canucks found a way to win 34 of 65 draws while the Bruins only won 29 of those 65 one-on-one battles.

While none of them led directly to a goal, it did skew puck possession in Vancouver’s favor as the game progressed.

It’s actually been an area the Canucks have won in nearly every game of this series, including in both blowout wins by the Bruins in Games 3 and 4. But add the faceoffs in with losing puck battles and not getting enough bodies in front of Roberto Luongo and the small things become huge problems – problems the Bruins cannot afford tonight with no margin of error left.

In a close game, losing those battles can be deadly, especially when you’re the Bruins trying to kill one of best power play units in the game. So far, the Bruins have killed 24 of 25 Vancouver power plays.

The Bruins coach was also asked about the benefit of having Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci – two of the team’s top faceoff men – out on the ice for the team’s top power play unit.

“I don’t think we would be putting them there if it was just a faceoff thing,” Julien said. “But between Bergeron and Krejci are right-handed shots, and whether one of them is on the half fall, doesn’t really matter. The other one can be on the goal line. Krejci can make some plays from down low and Bergeron can take pucks at the net. We just feel that right now that’s a good scenario for that power play.

“We’ve got [Rich] Peverley who does move the puck well and [Dennis] Seidenberg who can shoot the puck well, we’ve got a good combination there. It’s shown some flashes of being very good, and when it hasn’t, it’s been not because of who you got out there, but what they’ve done. We’ve lost some battles in the last game. Certainly didn’t make some strong passes that were cut off. Vancouver does a great job. They’ve got good sticks on the penalty kill. If we don’t make crisp passes, you end up turning it over.”

The same goes for Vancouver.

“We have to bring our ‘A’ game and play the right way,” said Daniel Sedin. “When we win faceoffs and we have a lot of puck possession, we’re a good team. They’re obviously a good faceoff team so that’s going to be a big thing tonight. If we play the right way, and we play tight the way we did at home, it’s hard to get good scoring chances against us. When we play like we did in Games 3 and 4, we’re going to get some scoring chances but they are too, and that’s not the way we want to play.”

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Game 6 countdown, 1 p.m.: Haverhill teenager says late grandfather helping Bruins win at 1:15 pm ET
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The Eagle-Tribune reported Monday that a Haverhill teenager’s grandfather becoming a Bruins fan right before his passing has paid dividends for the team in the postseason.

“At my grandpa’s wake I placed a ticket stub from the Dallas Stars game that I attended in February with my dad, my mom and one of my cousins,” 16-year-old Nicky Mangano said. “And since then the Bruins have been doing really well. They came back from 2-0 to win the series in seven games, they swept the Flyers in four, then Tampa in seven, and now they came back to tie Vancouver 2-2.”

Mangano said his grandfather, James Cassidy, started following the Bruins so the two could talk about something to take Mangano’s mind off his grandfather’s failing health. Cassidy, a Red Sox, Patriots and Celtics fan, died on April 14 at age 85.

At Cassidy’s wake, family members placed Red Sox, Celtics and Patriots caps in his casket.

“I was thinking that he didn’t have all the sports, so I added the Bruins ticket stub,” Mangano said.

“On the morning of the funeral, when we were saying our last goodbyes, Nicky tucked in his ticket stub,” said Nicky’s mother, Deborah Mangano. “We all said maybe that will bring the Bruins some good luck.”

Mangano watches the Bruins wearing a Patrice Bergeron jersey. His father Nick wears Bobby Orr‘s.

“Every time the Bruins win I look up and say, ‘Thanks, grandpa,’ ” Nicky said.

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Tony Amonte on M&M: Roberto Luongo ‘pumps his own tires enough’ at 12:55 pm ET
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CSNNE Bruins analyst Tony Amonte spoke with the Mut & Merloni show Monday morning. To hear the interview, go the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Amonte said the key to the Bruins winning Game 6 Monday night is to “ride [Zdeno] Chara and [Dennis] Seidenberg.”

“I think that’s what they’ve done at home is been able to ride those two defensemen, their top D pair,” Amonte said. “They don’t get scored on much, and they help you out, create a lot of offense for the Bruins.”

Amonte said that a key to the offense is getting Tyler Seguin more minutes, especially on the power play.

“Seguin’s a guy that could break the game open,” he said.

“You have to play the odds. You have to put a guy out there you know is going to score a little bit more than another guy.”

While Gregory Campbell is good on faceoffs and penalty kills, Amonte said he lacks the puck control necessary to play in front of the net on power plays.

“If you can’t get control of the puck and you can’t get it set up, you’re never going to see a net-front guy,” Amonte said, adding: “That second unit just never had the ability to get the puck, settle it down, and establish a net-front presence.”

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Andrew Ference says B’s won’t be scared by the magnitude of the moment at 12:26 pm ET
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Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference believes he and his teammates won’t be scared or intimidated by the Stanley Cup being in the building tonight, ready to be raised on Garden ice if the Canucks win.

“We’ve had our back up against a wall a few times and I think that we’ve performed well under those circumstances. I think a lot of guys feel like this is another opportunity to go out there and prove ourselves and seize the moment,” Ference said.

Ference and the Bruins have faced elimination twice in the playoffs so far, winning both games on home ice by one goal, including Game 7 against Montreal in overtime in the first round.

“It doesn’t sound right but we’ve been here as a team,” Ference said. “Obviously, the Cup is on the line tonight but I think we felt like that against Montreal when we were down. Against Philly, there was such focus on getting back and Tampa went to Game 7. We’ve had our back up against the wall a few times and I think we’ve performed well under those circumstances.”

For Ference, this is his second time in a Game 6 of the Cup finals. Back in 2004 – with Calgary – the Flames were just one win away and could’ve clinched with a win on home ice. But instead, the Lightning survived and forced a Game 7, one which Tampa Bay prevailed, 2-1.

“Second time around is easier,” Ference said. “I remember the first time with Calgary mostly your mind gets pretty busy. But also, I was in a different situation. I was up 3-2 with Calgary so the mind works in different ways. But this time is a little easier.”

Ference – like every Bruin – will look to feed off the sizable energy in the Garden, a place the Bruins have outscored the Canucks, 12-1, in two blowout wins in Games 3 and 4.

“The city’s excited,” Ference said. “It’s been a long run and lots of ups and downs and crazy stuff but obviously, everybody can smell a finish coming up soon and wants us obviously, to continue the story fro another game.”

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Doc Emrick on D&C: ‘I think [Bruins] will win this one tonight’ at 10:57 am ET
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Mike Emrick

Stanley Cup finals play-by-play announcer Doc Emrick checked in with the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to offer his thoughts on Game 6. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Emrick picked the Bruins to win Monday night.

“I think the more desperate team stands to win,” Emrick said, adding: “The memory of Boston games here against Vancouver is a pretty strong and emphatic one. These were not close games. All three of the ones in Vancouver were one-goal games. So, I fully expect, I would not be shocked to look back at Vancouver for a Game 7.”

Emrick added that Game 7s are a “dice roll.”

“Pawtucket could beat the BoSox in a Game 7,” he said. “You get a couple of breaks, and all of a sudden you’re in there and you’re winning a game. The Bruins have been the underdogs the whole series, and there’s nothing says they can’t win a Game 7. I think they will win this one tonight, but there’s nothing that says they can’t take a seventh.”

Emrick said that plays like Alex Burrows bite and Aaron Rome’s illegal hit, regardless of how dirty they might have really been, have been useful in generating fan support for the Bruins.

“You don’t have to stretch too far to find villains in this one compared to others,” Emrick said. “I think the nature of the fouls and the grievances are the thing that make it unique compared to others. We haven’t had this many penalty minutes in a finals series in over 20 years.”

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Andy Brickley on D&C: ‘I don’t like the way [Canucks] play the game’ at 9:42 am ET
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Andy Brickley

NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley called in to the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to talk about the Stanley Cup finals and Game 6. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Brickley said that despite Vancouver’s home-ice domination during the Stanley Cup finals, the Canucks certainly aren’t going to sit back Monday night and wait to play Game 7 back home.

“They want to end this thing tonight, because anything can happen in Game 7,” Brickley said. “And you don’t know how you are going to come out of Game 6 in terms of your health.”

The Bruins, meanwhile, must counter with the determination to prevent the Canucks from celebrating on their ice.

“Not in our building, not in our house, not at the Garden,” Brickley said. “They do not win a Stanley Cup on here on our ice in front of our fans.”

Brickley said that Roberto Luongo’s trash-talking Tim Thomas was a case of “a guy that’s a little bit immature when it comes to dealing with the media.”

“I think there’s a hint of jealousy in what he’s saying about Tim Thomas,” Brickley said.

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Maxim Lapierre admits he got a ‘little lucky’ 06.10.11 at 11:25 pm ET
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The game-winning goal off the stick of Maxim Lapierre was a “lucky” break by the admission of the man who scored it. Lapierre was positioned to the right of Tim Thomas when he took a pass off the end boards and flipped it off the backside of Thomas. The puck trickled off of Thomas’ pads and dropped over the goal line, providing the margin of victory in Vancouver’s 1-0 win in Game 5.

“I was actually going backdoor for a tip,” Lapierre told Versus in a postgame interview, referring to a pass he was expecting from Kevin Bieksa in front of Thomas. “That was a good play. We got a little lucky but we’ll take it.”

“The puck got across the line by a couple of inches and that was the difference,” added Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault in his postgame press conference.

“I don’t think that was necessarily the play they were going for, from where the guy shot it to where it came out, he was pretty wide,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said of Bieksa’s pass from the right . “Normally, those pucks from where he shot it don’t come out there. Nonetheless, you make your own breaks. I think tonight – as a whole – they were the better team. I think we have to acknowledge that because if we don’t, we’re not going to be a better team the next game.”

Roberto Luongo – who stopped all 31 shots in the shutout – had his own take when asked if making saves like the one that got by Thomas are difficult.

“It’s not hard if you’re playing in the paint,” Luongo said, referring to Thomas’ aggressive approach. “It’s an easy save for me but if you’re wandering out and aggressive like he does, that’s going to happen.”

As for coming out stronger and outhitting the Bruins, 47-27, Lapierre said the Canucks were more in control.

“We played with a little more confidence and were more patient,” Lapierre said on his postgame TV interview. “It was good for us.”

Game 6 is now a must-win for the Bruins back in Boston Monday night. If the Bruins win, Game 7 is back in Vancouver Wednesday night.

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