VANCOUVER – Bruins center David Krejci thinks he has the solution for the Bruins, as they try to climb out of an 0-2 hole in the Stanley Cup Final.
“Just have a good sleep and get back [Sunday],” he said after Saturday’s 3-2 overtime loss to Vancouver at Rogers Arena. “We’re going to have a long flight. Just have some fun on the plane, stay loose. It’s just 2-0. We’re still in it and we know we can do it. We’re going to play the next two games at home. So …”
So the home-ice advantage is going to turn things around? Definitely not, if the Bruins duplicate the five periods and 11 seconds worth of hockey they played other than the second period of Game 2.
Whatever the factors involved in their demise, the Bruins weren’t themselves once they landed in the Pacific Northwest. Should the East Coast air not spark a turnaround, they won’t be making a return journey to Vancouver.
Part of the Bruins’ problem is that the Canucks are just too good. Sure, they only beat the Bruins by one goal in each of the first two games. But look at some of the save Tim Thomas had to make to keep the Bruins in those games – which far outweigh the couple soft goals he gave up in Game 2 – and then you realize how lopsided these tight games are.
The Canucks were preseason favorites to win it all and they shored up their club over the course of the season with the additions of Christopher Higgins and Maxim Lapierre. Regardless of what you think of those two former Canadiens pests, their acquisitions made it possible for the Canucks to get all the way to the final without Manny Malhotra.
With their speed, their solid defense, all-world goaltending and just enough agitating to knock an opponent off focus but not cross the line, the Canucks are built to close the deal here. The Bruins might not be.
On the game’s biggest stage, the Bruins have been pedestrian, at best, while the Canucks have been playing as though winning this series is their birth right. I typically base my stories on facts, stats and comments from players/coaches. But this is about a gut feeling I’ve had ever since the Bruins departed for Vancouver. It built up even more during the two off days between Game 1 and 2.
While the Canucks are overflowing with confidence and seem to be treating this Cup Final like the greatest moment of their lives, the Bruins seem a little sick of the grind. They’ve become testier with the press and their practice at the University of British Columbia Friday didn’t seem as crisp as it should be for this time of year.
From Milan Lucic complaining that the Bruins aren’t being given a chance to Mark Recchi telling his critics to “kiss his ass,” it’s like the Bruins are all channeling their emotions and anger in the wrong direction. How about taking a run at a Canucks player? How about doing something on the ice that sends a message you’re not just happy to have gotten this far?
In order to match the Canucks’ almost-perfect mix of nastiness and skill, the Bruins might require a somewhat overdue lineup change. A little Shawn Thornton could go a long way toward giving the Bruins a physical edge back at home, not to mention a fourth line that could match up with Vancouver’s third if necessary and maybe make a game-turning hit or have a shift that pins the Canucks in for a while.
But that’s not going to be some magic elixir. There’s a passion that the Bruins haven’t yet shown in this series. I don’t get the idea that they’re trying to take full advantage of this opportunity.
Sure, a little bit better execution on their breakouts and they might be leading, or at least split, in this series. But to me that passion would’ve gone a long way toward helping them bear down and make crisper plays. It would’ve gotten them a goal in Game 1 and maybe intimidate the likes of Alex Burrows and Lapierre a bit. Instead we’ve watched those two guys run rampant over the Bruins. That Lapierre’s taunts of Patrice Bergeron didn’t elicit an eruption of the offensive or physical nature from the Bruins shows that this team is a bit overwhelmed.
In the regular season, no one would’ve stood for that. While you can’t take a dumb penalty there or at any point of these crucial games, a message still could’ve been sent. Dennis Seidenberg came close in Game 2, but I still have yet to see anyone plant Lapierre on his rear. And Burrows is playing as though he’s wearing a no-contact jersey practice jersey but everyone else is fair game for him.
Hopefully for those of us that would like to be part of a lengthy series, Krejci & Co., had their “fun flight” back to Boston. It won’t be much fun at the TD Garden if those light times don’t translate into harder tougher play starting with Game 3. Several Bruins, young and old, have talked about this series being a potential once-in-a-lifetime affair. It’s time for their play to reflect that notion.