There are a lot of people counting the Boston Bruins out because they trail the Vancouver Canucks two games to none in the Stanley Cup Finals. Many believe they cannot win four out of five against the President Trophy-winning Canucks; others simply think Vancouver is too skilled for the Bruins.
Though being down 2-0 is not ideal, it is not fatal – especially seeing the Bruins are coming home for Games 3 and 4. If they can simply take care of business on home ice, they head back to Vancouver even up in a best-of-three series. Seeing the Bruins have already come back from a 2-0 deficit (in which they lost the first two games at home), and that they have played well in the first two games on the road in this series, there is no reason to stop believing now.
Four things Boston needs to do to win tonight …
1. Continue to invade Roberto Luongo’s space: Boston did a much better job of this in Game 2, getting a doorstep rebound goal from Milan Lucic and a tip from Mark Recchi. The Bruins need to make life even more uncomfortable for Luongo in Game 3, just as they did to Carey Price and Dwayne Roloson as those series progressed.
2. Be better with the puck: The Bruins have been turning the puck over left and right, especially in the defensive and neutral zones, which lead to scoring chances for the Canucks. David Krejci and Brad Marchand have been huge offenders, as have most of the defenseman, most notably Andrew Ference and Tomas Kaberle.
3. Get more physical: It is one thing for a scrapper like Maxim Lapierre to be taunting the Bruins about the biting incident, but it’s quite another for one of the Sedins doing it, as Daniel did when he introduced his linemate as “the vegetarian, Alex Burrows.” The Canucks are quite comfortable with the way things are, and the Bruins need to push them out of that comfort zone. A healthy dose of heavy hits, and maybe dressing Shawn Thornton, will help with that.
4. Make better decisions without the puck: In Game 1, it was Johnny Boychuck stepping up on Ryan Kesler with
20 seconds left and Milan Lucic not hustling back; in Game 2, it was a flat-footed Ference followed by a wandering Tim Thomas and a lackadaisical Zdeno Chara. Those are just a few of the mental errors the Bruins have made that helped the Canucks win Games 1 and 2. The Bruins need to eliminate the mental errors if they want to get back in this series.
Three things Vancouver must do to win tonight …
1. Get the lead: TD Garden will be electric tonight, and the best thing the Canucks can do is score a quick goal to quiet down the fans. Boston has started slowly a bunch of times in the playoffs, so this is not beyond the realm of possibility.
2. Stay in the Bruins’ heads: As much as it disgusts me personally, Lapierre and Sedin and Burrows and the rest of the Canucks are smart to play the mind games about the bite. And though I still feel it was a huge dive, Kevin Bieksa was smart to whine about the non-call on the Rich Pevereley slash, as it could make the officials watch things more closely. A tightly-called game definitely favors the Canucks and their vaunted power play.
3. Keep the Bruins from the front of the net: The Canucks’ defense has done a great job of this in Games 1 and 2, even if Boston was able to get a couple goals down low. Vancouver needs to keep Boston out of Luongo’s space. If they don’t, it could be a long night for Luongo.
Two players to watch tonight:
1. Tim Thomas: How does he rebound from the OT goal? My guess is just fine. He plays aggressive and that was typical Thomas. He is successful because he is aggressive, so fans should hope he continues to be aggressive. He may want to adjust a bit to keep the Canucks honest, but it’s not the time to completely change a style.
2. Alexandre Burrows: Time to shut down the talented Canucks’ forward, who I warned would be the guy to watch on the top line before the series began.
All season, the Bruins have answered the bell when their backs have been against the wall. They have embraced adversity and played their best hockey when people have left them for dead. Tonight is one of those situations – even bigger than any other point because a loss tonight basically ends the season. Look for the Bruins to feed off the energy in the building and skate away with a 3-1 win.
Topics: Alex Burrows, Boston Bruins, Brad Marchand, Carey Price, Daniel Sedin, David Krejci, Dwayne Roloson, Game 3, Johnny Boychuk, Kevin Bieksa, Mark Recchi, Maxim Lapierre Shawn Thornton, Milan Lucic, Rich Peverley, Roberto Luongo, Ryan Kesler, Stanley Cup, Tim Thomas, Vancouver Canucks