June 12, 2011

Bruins look to keep Cup hopes alive

by Jesse Connolly

Bruins goalie Tim Thomas delivers a hit on Henrik Sedin. (Getty)

BOSTON -- When a team reaches the sixth game of the Stanley Cup Finals, it's bound to have encountered a number of similar scenarios along the way.

The Bruins have found themselves down two games to none twice this spring. They've also gone into a Game 6 on the road on two separate occasions with a chance to clinch a series. Now, they're on the flip side.

In order to avoid seeing the Canucks hoist the Stanley Cup in their own barn, Boston must pull out a win on Monday in Game 6 at TD Garden.

"Well, we knew we had to come up with our best game at that time and certainly we tried to do that," coach Claude Julien said, reflecting on his team's missed opportunities to knock out the Canadiens and Lightning in enemy territory. "Again, it took a Game 7 for us to obviously take care of business. But we're on the other side of the coin right now.

"I don't look at it that way more than I look at our resolve during the season and different times when we have had to come up large, whether it's Game 7 in the playoffs or whether sometime during the season when we needed certain wins. Our guys have always responded well and I have a lot of confidence in our team. The reason we're here is because those guys have delivered and I don't expect that to change."

Home-ice advantage worked for both Tampa Bay and Montreal when the Bruins had their chance to punch their ticket to the next round. Julien hopes his team can continue to be successful in their own building, where the B's have won twice in the series and have gone 9-1 in their last 10 playoff games.

"I remember right near the end of the year, we were pleased with our road record, but we talked about establishing ourselves as a better home team," the coach said. "That was in the last month and a half or so. We started doing that the regular home season and we've carried that into the playoffs. So if there is a time to be good at home, it's certainly tomorrow, and we intend to keep that streak going."

While the B's lament the fact that they couldn't generate anything offensively in Game 5 at Rogers Arena, losing 1-0 to fall behind 3-2 in the series, there's no changing the past at this point. They must draw from their previous experiences of being able to battle through adversity and find a way to force a Game 7.

"It seems like we've always find a way to do things the hard way and this is definitely something we have to find a way to do and dig deep to do," winger Milan Lucic said. "You work hard all year to get to this point. We just have to look at it as a positive and an opportunity to get one step closer."

And now, for the umpteenth time during these playoffs, the Bruins are about to embark on the biggest game of their lives. Every hockey fan across the globe will be tuned in on Monday night while the 17,565 fans on hand at the Garden promise to create a deafening, delirious environment to play in.
Bruins goalie Tim Thomas' secret to handling all that pressure? Simply tune everyone out.

"There are only 12 players out on the ice at any given time, max, and the ice surface is the same size," Thomas said. "There is only one puck in play at all times, and I think you just focus on the nuances of the game.

"Really, you just pretend. You don't pretend that the fans aren't there, but I guess what I'm trying to say is it shouldn't matter whether you have a packed building or (you're) playing in an empty rink. You're focus is on the game and playing the game. You try to get the same focus that you had as a kid when you were out playing on the pond and you're just enjoying the game. Really, if you approach it like that it can be really fun."

As far as Bruins fans are concerned, nothing could be more fun than watching the Black and Gold find a way to win and force a winner-take-all Game 7.