BOSTON -- For the third time in the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Boston Bruins are facing elimination.
In their previous two brushes with the offseason, the Bruins survived and advanced to the next round with Game 7 wins over Montreal in the first round and Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference finals.
If they want to stave off elimination a third time and avoid watching the Vancouver Canucks hoist the Stanley Cup on TD Garden ice, they will have to follow these three keys to success.
Use home-ice advantage again. The home team has not lost in this series and the Bruins need to keep that streak alive in Game 6. They have won five straight at TD Garden and now they must win the last home game of the 2010-11 season to force Game 7.
As Julien pointed out, the Bruins can use the fact that they have the last change to their advantage.
“I think it's smoother when you have the last change,” Julien said. “There is less changing on the fly and you get the better matchups, that's for sure. I don't think, except for a couple of certain matchups that both teams are trying to stay away from or to get, I think we've been more or less content with what they want against us and what we want against them. It hasn't been that big of an issue, but nonetheless to start with the matchup you want is always better than having to change on the fly, and that's the advantage we have at home.”
The Bruins must feed off the energy of their fans and channel that into controlled excitement on the ice, setting the tempo early and sticking with it throughout the game. They were able to do that in Games 3 and 4, and they must play the physical brand they pride themselves in again.
Find a way to score on power play again. Not to beat a dead horse, but the Bruins need to reincarnate that horse into a successful power play once and for all. Boston was awarded the first four power plays of Game 5, and as has been the case so many times this season, they failed to convert on the man advantage. In a game that was a defensive struggle and duel of goalies, a power-play goal there could have been the difference.
“I think it goes for all of the situations offensively, power plays included,” Bergeron said. “That’s very important against a team like Vancouver. They’re doing a good job of boxing us out, but we’ve got to fight our way to the front of the net.”
Facing elimination, the Bruins need to take advantage of any opportunity they get. The Bruins are 3-for-21 on power plays in the series and 6-for-57 in the playoffs. Even one power-play goal may be enough to beat Luongo and the Canucks in Game 6. All three of the Bruins’ losses in this series have been by one goal.
Stay within the moment and the game. Obviously that is a lot easier said than done, but the Bruins need to focus on Game 6 in and of itself and not the meaning of it, not the game before it or the potential game ahead. That mindset has been a strength throughout the playoffs, as they've isolated each game as its own entity, not allowing the status of the series to affect their play. That’s how they’re approaching Game 6.
“I think it’s about making sure we stay focused the whole time about tomorrow’s game, tomorrow night and it starts today,” Bergeron said. “You have to approach it the same way [as any other elimination game]. Obviously in the playoffs, any time you’re facing elimination it means your season is going to end if you lose. It’s about approaching it the same way and making sure we don’t put extra pressure on ourselves. Just seize the moment and enjoy.”