Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Six keys to Game 6
By James Murphy
MONTREAL -- The Bruins have a chance to accomplish a franchise first Tuesday night at the Bell Centre when they try to complete a comeback from a 2-0 series deficit in Game 6 against the Canadiens. The Bruins have taken the past three games from their archrivals, including two on the road and two in overtime. If they are to win a third straight in one of the toughest rinks in the NHL for a visiting team and clinch the series in the process, they must follow these six keys to success.
Stay in the moment. The Bruins have won three straight, including the past two overtime thrillers, but they must remember to stay in the moment and not get ahead of themselves. This series is not over by any means, especially playing a Habs team with a core that was 5-1 in elimination games in the 2010 postseason. The Bell Centre will be rocking, and the Canadiens will be playing for their playoff lives. The Bruins need to match that passion and intensity, and set the tone early, or they could be in for a quick turnaround and Game 7 on Wednesday night in Boston.
Don’t rely on Thomas to save the day. Throughout the season and especially in Game 5, the Bruins have leaned on Vezina Trophy nominee Tim Thomas to bail them out, and Thomas has delivered. But in Game 6, an elimination game against a desperate team, they can’t depend on another gem from Thomas. They need to deliver a collective gem and not let it come down to which goalie blinks first.
Turn the power on. It’s becoming a regular here in “Keys to the Game,” but until the Bruins light the lamp on the power play, get used to it. The Bruins are 0-for-15 on the man advantage in this series, and if they had found a way to get their power play going, they wouldn’t have needed a second overtime in Game 5. Boston failed to convert on a power play it received with 3:48 left in the first overtime, and even though the B's ultimately won, their failure to convert is making life a lot more difficult than it needs to be.
Lucic needs to follow up. Milan Lucic is finally looking like the power forward who intimidated opposing defenders all season and found the back of the net 30 times. The Bruins will need him to be a presence even if he doesn't score in Game 6. If Lucic can play his north-south game and be physical, he will open up space for his linemates and make the Habs alter their game plan.
Neutralize Subban. Canadiens defenseman PK Subban played a game-high 40:38 in Game 5 and has been a steady presence on the blue line. Just 21 but playing like a veteran, Subban has become a luxury for the Habs' coaching staff with his endurance and skill. The Bruins need to neutralize the rising star and bring the physical game to him when they can. If Game 6 becomes another stamina test, the Bruins need to be physical with Subban every chance they get.
Create traffic in front of Price. The Bruins have had no problem generating shots in this series; the issue was how many of their shots didn’t reach Carey Price in the first three games. In Game 5, that changed as they got 51 shots to the net. While Price stopped 49 of those shots, the Bruins got two past him because they had traffic in front and made the normally calm goalie scramble. The Bruins need to continue to make Price work for his saves and create traffic in front if they are to beat him again and advance to the second round.