Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the Bruins are once again in familiar territory during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Black and Gold are now one win away from elimination after their 3-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 5. They must defeat the Hawks in Game 6 Monday night at the TD Garden in order to force a Game 7 Wednesday night at the United Center.
Sound familiar? Well it is to a certain extent.
Two years ago after falling to the President Trophy winning Vancouver Canucks in Game 5, the Bruins faced a must win Game 6 in order to force a Game 7. Not only did the B’s take Game 6, but they went on to clinch their first Stanley Cup Final in 39 years.
Two years later, the Bruins face a must-win against the President Trophy winning Blackhawks. But that’s where the similarities between the two seasons end.
There’s no storyline heading into Game 6 on Roberto Luongo pumping Tim Thomas‘ tires. There’s no storyline on how the Sedin Twins weren’t manning up against the Big Bad Bruins. There’s no storyline on Alex Burrows, Maxim Lapierre, Kevin Bieksa and the rest of the Canucks mouthing off to the media on how great they thought they were.
Instead the storylines involve the last two Selke Award winners, Patrice Bergeron (“body injury”) and Jonathan Toews (head), being day-to-day with their respective injuries. They also involve Corey Crawford‘s improved play, Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg’s struggles and Patrick Kane‘s hot streak, just to name a few.
Either way, the mindset is still the same for the Black and Gold, win Game 6 and force a Game 7.
“I think the big picture is to win two games,” said forward Nathan Horton, who has two assists in the first five games of the series. “We concentrate one game at a time. Like everyone says, we’re at home. It’s obviously a must-win and we all know that the fourth win is the hardest one to get and we are going to make it as hard as we can [on them]. We’re not done yet.”
Just because the two seasons are different, doesn’t mean the Bruins aren’t going back to the drawing board from what worked two years ago.
“We could all take some experience from that and realize that, to win this game, we’ve got to make sure we leave everything on the ice,” forward Brad Marchand said about Game 6. “We play our best and that’s what we did last time so hopefully we can do the same tomorrow.”
The Bruins are well aware of the adversity they’ve encountered. In the past they’ve handled that adversity with resiliency.
A perfect example of this came this year in their Game 7 comeback against the Toronto Maple Leafs. But three rounds later, their backs are against the wall, again.
How will the Black and Gold respond? That remains to be seen, but Claude Julien knows his team has one goal Monday night: force a seventh game.
“Well, surprisingly to you guys, you don’t have to say much to this group,” said the Bruins coach. “We don’t say it because we want to say it, but we’re an experienced group that’s been through a lot. Not just that, but we have a good group of guys that understand what’s at stake. They understand what’s happening, and they know what they need to do. I don’t need to go in there and give this big speech because they know what’s at stake, and we’ve proven it in the past and now we have the opportunity to prove it again tomorrow.
“I’d rather see our guys focused, ready and excited about playing tomorrow. And the word excited should be a very key word for tomorrow’s game.”