Last night in Vancouver the Canucks defeated the San Jose Sharks in double overtime to win the series 4-1, and earn the right to represent the Western Conference in the Stanley Cup Finals
Tonight the Bruins look to join the Canucks at the party, something the franchise has not done since 1990.
With the Bruins holding a 3-2 series lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning the Bruins have two chances to close the series out, but no one wants to see a Game 7 Friday night at the TD Garden.
The Bruins know that getting the fourth and final win will be the most difficult challenge they have faced all year.
Putting away Tampa Bay is no easy task, just ask the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Pens held a 3-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. Tampa rolled out three straight wins when facing elimination and won the series with a thrilling Game 7 1-0 victory.
This postseason the Bruins are 2-1 when they have the chance to send their opponents home for the offseason.
There are a lot of keys to tonight’s game for the Bruins; a quick start is certainly one of them. Too many times this postseason the B’s have been slow to show up resulting in some early first period deficits.
Bruins head coach Claude Julien knows it’s important that his team comes out of the gate with a solid start tonight.
“Yeah, I think we’ve been accustomed to having some decent starts and I think last game wasn’t one of those. And we were still able to hang on and eventually give ourselves a lead, but I think we know and we can play better than we did last night. And that’s the positive you can take out of a win, knowing that we’re a team that plays better than what we showed. So we are going to need that effort tomorrow if we plan on winning the hockey game because they are going to play with desperation, they are a good team. We’ve said that all along. They are a dangerous team offensively they create a lot of opportunities. Even if you play well defensively they are going to find ways. So we have to be on top of our game tomorrow.” said Julien.
Another key factor in tonight’s crucial Game 6 is the play of the Bruins special teams.
Through five games the Bruins have done a great job shutting down the playoff’s top power play. The Lightning have converted on just two of the 18 power plays they have been given.
The power play for the Bruins has continued to be a non-factor thus far. The Bruins are 2-19 on the power play with both tallies coming in their 6-5 Game 2 victory.
On the last power play the Bruins had in Game 5 they finally mixed things up, hoping that something, anything would work.
The 6’9 Zdeno Chara was sent to the dirty area, setting a nearly immoveable screen in front of Lightning goalie Mike Smith. The Bruins failed to score on this power play, but got some good looks and caused some havoc for the Lightning.
When asked about it, Julien didn’t shoot down the idea of doing so again.
“Possibility. I think I liked what he did last game in front of the net, but he’s only going to be useful in front of the net if we put him there, if we get control of the puck and we get some shots on net. The first few power play we didn’t really get control of the puck and it didn’t matter who was in front at that point. I didn’t mind what he did and I think we need to see how this game unfolds. But it’s certainly a possibility.” said Julien.
The Bruins don’t care who they have to put in front of the net, as long as pucks go in and the Bruins are victorious in Tampa Bay.
Projected Bruins Lineup:
Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Mark Recchi
Michael Ryder-Chris Kelly-Tyler Seguin
Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Rich Peverley
Zdeno Chara-Dennis Seidenberg
Andrew Ference-Johnny Boychuk
Tomas Kaberle-Adam McQuaid
Healthy scratches: Shawn Thornton, Shane Hnidy, Steven Kampfer
Projected Lightning Lineup:
Teddy Purcell-Vincent Lecavalier-Martin St. Louis
Simon Gagne-Steven Stamkos-Ryan Malone
Blair Jones-Dominic Moore-Steve Downie
Dana Tyrell-Nate Thompson-Adam Hall
Eric Brewer-Mattias Ohlund
Victor Hedman-Brett Clark
Mike Lundin-Marc-Andre Bergeron