BOSTON — During the regular season, the Bruins’ occasional “what me worry” attitude proved costly some nights.
Tomorrow night, however, it might be the only way for them survive.
Now that they’ve been pushed to the brink of elimination by Vancouver in the Stanley Cup Final, the best thing the Bruins can do is take the TD Garden ice for Game 6 and block out the ramifications of a possible defeat.
“The first thing I do is don’t think about the millions and millions of people that are watching,” said goaltender Tim Thomas today after practice. “There are only 12 players out on the ice at any given time, max, and the ice surface is the same size. There is only one puck in play at all times, and I think you just focus on the nuances of the game.
“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. Your 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.”
It’s hard to believe that playing for the survival of ones season can be fun. But some of Thomas’ teammates agreed they should enjoy the opportunity.
“We have a lot of fun when we’re out there playing and competing,” said forward Rich Peverley. “That’s why everybody’s here and that’s why they enjoy playing this game. And we’re going to go out and play to the best of our ability and enjoy, I’m going to enjoy, the crowd. The crowd’s awesome here.”
Although the Bruins have only played for their season in two Game 7 situations, one can argue that being down 2-0 to Montreal was the equivalent of facing elimination. Being behind in Game 4 to Montreal and in Game 2 to Philadelphia — not to mention blowing a 3-0 lead to Tampa Bay in Game 4 of the conference finals — also provided the Bruins with plenty of adversity.
“I don’t think there is anybody in that dressing room panicking,” said head coach Claude Julien. “We’re focused. We understand the situation. When you’ve been through it quite a few times, you certainly know how to deal with it a lot better and we’ve certainly been through it enough.”
Well, we’ll see if the Bruins were enough to prepare them for the magnitude of do-or-die Game 6 tomorrow night.