VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The Bruins will look to even up the Stanley Cup finals in Game 2 at Rogers Arena on Saturday night. After out-shooting the Canucks 36-34, getting a superb 33-save effort from Tim Thomas but losing 1-0 on a goal by Raffi Torres with 19 seconds left in regulation in Game 1, the Bruins will need to maintain that game-by-game mantra they have used all playoffs and move on as they have from other tough defeats. They will also need to follow these three keys to success for Game 2.
Make life miserable for Luongo. With all due respect to Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo, who shut the Bruins out in Game 1 by stopping all 36 shots the Bruins poured on him, the Bruins didn’t make the majority of those shots count. They did have some odd-man rushes and some scoring chances down low but not enough. That’s why whether it’s 5-on-5 or on the power play the Bruins must make life miserable for Luongo. They need to park bodies in front of him, creating traffic and screening the Vezina Trophy candidate. But also, as head coach Claude Julien pointed out on Friday, the Bruins need to get shots through and not make that net-front presence rendered meaningless, a task that is not always easy in today’s shot-blocking and challenging NHL.
“As you know, a lot of teams now are fronting pucks,” Julien said. “It's not as easy as it used to be getting shots through. Guys are doing a great job of getting to the point when the puck's up there to get in the shooting lane, and when it's down low, the D's are doing a pretty good job of fronting pucks as well. It's easier said than done. We managed 36 shots on net. That's just a number. The scoring chances are what you have to look at. I think we can be better in regards to that.”
Winger Milan Lucic agreed with his coach and knows that the Bruins do their best work down low, getting rebounds from outside shots.
“It's been the same since the first series,” Lucic said. “I mean, you look at where most of our goals are scored. It's in front of the net, getting in those dirty areas, getting those rebounds and fighting for pucks. Their defense does a really good job of battling with whoever's in front of net. Our guys go to the net. For us, we got to get there, create a screen. Like I said, we got to find those loose pucks, work hard, bear down once we get those opportunities.”
Contain Vancouver’s blazing speed in the neutral zone. While the Bruins didn’t allow themselves to get caught in a run-and-gun game with the Canucks in Game 1, it was very evident that the Canucks are the faster team and at times that speed helped them transition and counter through the neutral zone with ease. The Bruins need to contain that blazing speed in the neutral zone even more in Game 2 or things could get out of hand in a hurry even if Tim Thomas is on his game again.
“They're a fast team,” Lucic said. “I think they do create a lot by creating that speed through the neutral zone. For us, we just got to do whatever we can, be in the right positions. We've faced fast teams throughout this playoff run so far with Montréal and Tampa. They were both teams that knew how to create scoring chances by creating speed through that neutral zone. For us, we just got to kind of focus on just getting ourselves in the right position and having our sticks on the ice. Where there's a chance, we got to take the body in and try to get them to go where we want them to go.”
As winger Brad Marchand pointed out, the Bruins may need to counter with their speed. But if they do, they must make sure they have support to avoid turnovers and allow the Canucks to bring it back the other way.
“You can always improve on your speed through the neutral zone,” Marchand said. “You just have to make sure you have support when we’re coming up the ice. If we do that, maybe we can get a few more opportunities. They like to pinch pretty hard on the boards and we just have to support.”
Brad Marchand needs to walk the line and be a factor again. Bruins winger Brad Marchand did a great job of developing into a disciplined agitator on the ice over the course of the regular season and has been one through most of the playoffs. But every once in a while, Marchand lets his emotions get the best of him and finds himself in the sin-bin, forcing his team to kill a power play, as he did getting called for holding the stick 13:25 into the first period of Game 1. Marchand knows he can be more disciplined and still be a factor.
“You gotta watch your emotions and keep them in check,” Marchand said. “That penalty I took was a bad one and I was a little rattled and you just have to keep your emotions in check. I think I can be better. The first game I let my emotions get the best of me a couple of times and it affected my game. But I am more prepared for the next game. I need to be a little more disciplined and just focus on playing the game instead of all the extra-curricular stuff."
But while Marchand is right saying he has to keep his emotions in check and be smarter, he can still walk the line as he has done all season and be the agitator the Bruins need to knock the Canucks and Luongo off their game. He just needs to do so within the parameters of the rules and not allow a dangerous Vancouver power play to burn him and his teammates.
“I think we have to be disciplined no matter what,” Julien said. “He's part of that too. Obviously the penalty he took wasn't a good penalty last game. We know that's happened at times with Brad with the type of game that he plays. We certainly want him to improve in that area and minimize those kinds of things.
But he understands, he knows once he does it, he takes ownership for it. But at the same time I think it's a normal thing to understand that discipline at this stage, we keep talking about it, even if we didn't let them score in the power-play last game, they still have a potent power-play we have to make sure that our penalties are good ones and most set of times when they're good ones, you end up killing them.”