For the second time in the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs, the Boston Bruins find themselves in a 2-0 series hole. While the Bruins showed in the first round against the Canadiens that they can come back, winning the series in seven games, the Canucks aren't Canadiens.
The Canucks are the President’s Trophy winners and they have been the best team in the playoffs thus far. The Bruins will need a solid 60-minute effort in Game 3 while following these three keys to success.
Better puck management in neutral zone. Coach Claude Julien and his players all acknowledged after Game 2 that the team’ puck management has not been up to par, especially in the Game 2 overtime loss. On Sunday, the Bruins again focused on that problem and know that in order to generate more offense and keep the Canucks off the board, they need to handle the puck better coming through the neutral zone. If they had done a better job of that in the first two games of the series, they may not be down 2-0.
“It was a one-goal difference in both games and that extra little bit to take care of the puck in our own end, I think it’s going to really help us,” Bruins winger Nathan Horton said. “I think it all starts in the neutral zone and in our end. That’s where we need to be better and get the pucks out and no turnovers. We talked about it after the game, where we still made mistakes and if that gets better I think we’ll get more offense.”
Horton is absolutely correct, and if the Bruins are to cut the Canucks’ series lead in half, they must apply what Horton said on the ice.
Stay disciplined yet physical -- and by physical, play Shawn Thornton. After going 0-for-6 on the man-advantage in Game 1, the Vancouver power play cashed in Game 2 with a Alexandre Burrows tally at 12:12 of the first period. The power play was a result of a rather lazy interference penalty by captain Zdeno Chara. The Bruins need to eliminate that laziness in Game 3 and go full speed ahead with determination and effort. But they must do so in a disciplined manner and not allow Vancouver to utilize that power play.
Julien believes both teams brought their physical play in Games 1 and 2.
“I think what we have to continue is to bring that part of our game to the table every night,” Julien said Sunday. “It has been part of our makeup. If that's the case, so be it. I don't think we plan on changing that part of our game. There are other parts that we feel are more important that we get better at. But the physical part is going to be there. I suspect it's going to be there right till the end.”
But for anyone who watched Game 2 (except for the first 12 minutes of the second period), the Bruins weren’t the physical, hard forechecking team they pride themselves in being. Who better to straighten that out than Shawn Thornton? While the Bruins may be satisfied with how physical they were in Game 2, this scribe wasn’t, and the solution is to sit rookie Tyler Seguin, whose minutes have been minimal and who has not scored a point in seven games. Thornton will bring that grit and edge the Bruins have sorely missed in the first two games.
Feed off the crowd. Rogers Arena was rocking for Games 1 and 2 of the Stanley Cup finals; the fans at TD Garden need to answer the bell. Bruins players are quite confident they will and will again make Boston a difficult place for opponents to play in.
“We’re going home to our crowd now and the city is electric now -- like Vancouver is -- and it’s going to be an unbelievable atmosphere on Monday. We have to go and take that and use that to our advantage,” Mark Recchi said following Game 2.
Recchi was then asked if he had a message to the fans on behalf of the Bruins.
“We’re coming home and you’ve been great all year,” Recchi said. “We’re excited and we’re still there. We got a long way to go still and we’re going to need you on Monday, so we’re looking forward to being back in front of our home crowd.”