On one hand, they’ve only showcased that side of their game fully in Games 3 and 4 at home inside the TD Garden. Fortunately, Game 6 is back in Boston tomorrow night, and the Black and Gold look to regain their physicality to even the series against the Canucks.
“We can play more physical,” defenseman Tomas Kaberle said after the team’s morning practice at the TD Garden. “We thought we could have been more physical in Vancouver there. Its always been our game: Play hard and get a lot fo traffic.”
Despite being down 3-2 in the series, the Bruins have put on an offensive display throughout, outscoring the Canucks 14-6 through five games. Again, mostly playing at the top of their game at home.
But on the contrary, the B’s have also been shutout twice, 1-0, on the road — in Game 1 to start the series, and most recently on Friday night in Game5.
“In Vancouver we were unable to score some goals. We probably need more bodies in front of the net and get some traffic in front of Luongo,” Kaberle said. “That makes it tougher for him.”
One main focus on lack of scoring has been on the power play. It seems like an old broken record that has plagued the Bruins virtually all season long; unable to take advantage and finish on the man-advantage.
Their 14.3 percent success rate (3-for-21) in the Finals against Vancouver may be a bit deceiving. Two of those power play goals came in Game 3, when the B’s blew-out the Canucks 8-1 — a game where they also had two shorthanded goals in the lopsided affair.
Wipe-out that game, and the B’s have gone just 1-for-17 in the series, and zero for their last eight.
“Maybe it comes out of the fact that we have to stay with what we’re doing,” said forward Rich Peverley. “I think most power plays are shooting power plays, most good power plays in the league. I think if we have that mentality to shoot first and maybe get rebounds, that’ll be our best option.”
The Bruins spent a good chunk of their practice this morning being physical. Particularly in front of the net, working on screens, tips, and working on the one-on-one battles in the dirty areas around the goal.
“I think it’s part of the game that we have to play, we need to get to the front of the net, we need to win those battles,” said head coach Claude Julien. “If youre going to score some goals, you have to win those battle and you have to put some pucks at the net and be there.”
One player who utilized his size and strength to his advantage was forward Nathan Horton. Being knocked-out in Game 3 and out for the remainder of the series with a concussion had left Boston with a big hole in their top-line.
But despite the key injury, Julien emphasized that the team’s depth has continued to thrive all season long, and has really come about in the playoffs. From Round 1 to the Finals today, secondary players — especially the bottom-6 forwards — have stepped up. When the top-line players have been blanketed and looked at more by the oppositions top shutdown lines, the depth of the Bruins up front have been a big reason for the team’s success.
“Right now teams that are having some success — teams like ours — have had secondary contributions,” Julien said. “We talked about [Chris] Kelly at the beginning of the playoffs was a big boost for us. Ryder’s scored some big goals for us, you saw Paille score some big goals for us. In the playoffs guys are being checked closely, the key guys. And it’s not always obvious so you need secondary scoring and every team needs that, and we feel that we’ve gotten that from our players.
“Depth is what is important at this stage right now. It’s normal that when youre in the Stanley Cup Finals, the top players are going to be checked extremely close. They have to work hard to get away from that and get success, ” he said. “It’s a matter of working through it again and our other guys coming up big again — the [Michael] Ryder’s the [Daniel] Paille’s the [Chris] Kelly’s and other that have done that in the past.
Everyone in the locker room post practice seemed cool as a cucumber — the coach included. For a team that’s facing elimination once again, overcoming adversity is nothing new to them. And by tomorrow night, all 19 starters will be ready to force a Game 7.
“I don’t think there’s anybody in that dressing room panicking. We’re focused, we understand the situation,” he said.” And when you’ve been through it quite a few times you certainly know how to deal with it a lot better, and we’ve been through it enough.”
“This is the Stanley Cup Finals,” said Kaberle. “You have to leave everything out there.”