Saturday, June 11, 2011
Five takeaways from Game 5
By James Murphy
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- For the third time in the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs, the Bruins will be facing elimination Monday after losing Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals 1-0 to the Canucks at Rogers Arena on Friday night. The series now shifts back to Boston, where the Canucks will have the chance to hoist the Stanley Cup for the first time in their 40-year history.
But before we head back to Beantown, here are five things to take away from Game 5.
1. Once again, the power play stems Bruins' momentum: For a while, the rosy picture of their miserable power play that the Bruins painted was actually looking real. They were moving the puck around and creating chances, and actually scored three power-play goals in this series. But the anemic power play that has plagued them throughout the playoffs burned them in a big way in Game 5.
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Rarely do you see a team awarded the first four power plays of the game, but that was the case Friday night for the Bruins. If they could’ve scored on even one of those power plays, it would have been a much different game. It was clear that both Roberto Luongo and Tim Thomas were on their game and any little advantage you could get against either of them was going to be used.
The Bruins, though, didn’t take advantage and are now 3-for-21 on power plays in the series and 6-for-57 in the playoffs.
“The other night, although we didn't score, we had much better chances than we did tonight,” said head coach Claude Julien. “Tonight was certainly not a good night for a power play. It wasn't a good night for our whole team, as far as creating good, quality scoring chances. We had some, but the thing again, that we need to do a lot better is get to that front of the net. We had guys, again, there, but on the side. We need to be a little more aggressive in that area than we were tonight. That's so huge for a hockey club and we need that.”
“We got out-battled,” Seidenberg said bluntly. “Most of the time we got in, they cleared the zone away. We just have to do a better job retrieving pucks and battling harder. And from then on, we have to move the puck crisper and be more selective with our shots.”
At least the Bruins aren’t in denial about what their power play has done to them, but the problem now is: Can they avoid having it send them to the golf course Monday night?
2. Once again Thomas a one-man show: So many times -- and twice now in this series -- Tim Thomas has been a one-man show for the Bruins. In Game 1 he did all he could do, stopping 33 shots in a scoreless duel between him and Roberto Luongo that Raffi Torres broke up with 19 seconds left in regulation. In Game 5, it was the same story -- and score -- as Thomas was brilliant but the players in front of him were anything but when it came to creating chances and scoring.
Tim Thomas again was superb, but it wasn't enough in Game 5.
Following Friday's game, Thomas wasn’t shy in letting his frustrations out.
"I don't think we tested him enough,” Thomas told the media of the chances his teammates got on Luongo. “We didn't get the same type of chances that we were getting in Games 3 and 4 that we were able to score enough to win."
Thomas is absolutely right and has every reason to be frustrated. Not only were the Bruins not getting enough scoring chances on Luongo but they also were reverting back to the turnovers that plagued them in Games 1 and 2 here in Vancouver.
“Tim was outstanding again and we have to do a better job for him,” Seidenberg said. “We’re definitely not trying to have him make that many saves on that many shots, but we just have to do a better job of being more solid in front of him and scoring goals.”
Thomas will be the same old Thomas in Game 6 -- and the Bruins need to be the Bruins from Games 3 and 4 and make life easier for him.
3. What happened to the road warriors? The Bruins were 24-12-5 on the road in the regular season and then 5-1 in their first six road games of the playoffs, but since their 5-3 loss to the Lightning in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals at Tampa Bay, the Bruins haven’t won a game on the road. Game 5 on Friday made it five straight losses in opposing buildings. Forward Milan Lucic was at a loss for words on the losing streak but knows that they will have to figure this out.
“I don’t know how to explain it,” Lucic said. “Especially in a series where you don’t have home-ice advantage, you got to find a way to win at least one game on the road if you want to come out on top, and for some reason in the last five road games we haven’t been able to do that. But we can’t focus on it too much now because right now we’re going home, where we have been good as of late. We need to look at this as an opportunity in a positive manner.”
“Yeah, I mean that’s our game right now and we’ve been keeping things simple all year and that’s why we had success on the road,” Bergeron said.
The Bruins seem to be forcing everything and playing out of their element on the road. If they can force a Game 7, they will need to get back to basics and, as Bergeron pointed out, keep it simple, playing a boring road game. It’s not how you win, but that you win.
4. Has Julien lost all faith in Seguin? Obviously Tyler Seguin has struggled since his first two playoff games in the Eastern Conference finals when he had six points, including a four-point night in Game 2 of that series. He has one point in his last nine games since then and is clearly looking like a rookie. But while Julien was right in sitting him in favor of Shawn Thornton for some grit and energy in Game 3, how can Julien use Gregory Campbell instead of Seguin and his offensive skill on the power play?
“He's done a pretty good job in front of the net and he certainly is good at tipping and, obviously, screening,” Julien explained when asked about that move. “But, you know, I don't think we're capable of doing much with him in front because we weren't getting the set that we wanted to get in the offensive zone. Certainly didn't play in our favor. Had we managed to get control of the puck and move it around and create some shots, he would have been a valuable player up front there where he normally does a good job.”
Great point, Claude, but with all due respect, isn’t that what all your forwards are for? And if not them, maybe try Zdeno Chara there again. Chances are, Seguin’s skill could create the scoring opportunities for those in front more than Campbell’s could. Campbell is a great defensive player and penalty killer, but in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals he is not suited for the power play.
5. The Bruins will win Game 6 and force Game 7. If there is one thing this Bruins team has proven to be throughout the playoffs it is resilient. Twice already, in two Game 7’s, the Bruins have staved off elimination, and based on their mindsets following Game 5, they will do so again in Boston on Monday.
“Regrouping is key in all playoffs and we’ve faced adversity before, but now we have to make sure we step up,” Bergeron said. “We’ve worked all year to be here and now we have to make sure we’re going back putting this game behind us, leaving everything on the line for Game 6.”
“It’s all about Game 6 and all about one game,” Bergeron added. “That’s all we gotta worry about. Leave everything on the line for Game 6 and do it as a team.”
The Bruins have done a great job of isolating games and moving on from both wins and losses. They already appeared to have done that following Game 5 and that’s why they will be back here in a winner-take-all Game 7 in Vancouver next Wednesday.