- Pierre LeBrun, NHL
- 0 Shares
BOSTON -- Stanley is in the building.
Whether or not he takes center ice Monday night, well, you know how the home crowd feels about that.
History suggests two very different storylines as the Chicago Blackhawks head into Game 6 here Monday night with a chance to lift the Stanley Cup over their heads for a second time in four seasons.
Will history repeat itself in seeing the Hawks clinch on the road in Game 6 just as they did in Philadelphia in 2010?
Or will the Boston Bruins hold serve at home just as they did in 2011, when Vancouver had a chance to wrap it all up at TD Garden?
"You know, it's a similar feeling, especially having the series tied 2-2, taking Game 5 at home and coming on the road for Game 6," Hawks star winger Patrick Kane said in comparing the scene to 2010 after arriving in Boston on Sunday afternoon. "You've got to be careful; you've seen a couple years ago Boston was down 3-2, they won at home and then won Game 7 in Vancouver. We know this team is capable of coming back. For us, I know it's a big game, but you want to play it like it's any other game, play the way we have all season and try to pull one out here on the road."
The Blackhawks have won two straight games, but if there's a series in which momentum seems fleeting, it's certainly this Cup finals -- two teams so evenly matched that it would surprise no one if the Bruins held serve and pushed it to the maximum for a seventh, winner-take-all game Wednesday night in Chicago.
That's certainly the plan for the Bruins, who were able to do just that in 2011.
"I mean, it's a different team, different situation, but we've been here before,'' Bruins winger Brad Marchand said Sunday. "I think we have a bit of confidence, but, at the same time, they're a very resilient team. They've played great so far. They played good last time they were in our building, so we've got to make sure we realize that and we don't take it for granted."
The Hawks have two shots at it.
In 2010, they played a relaxed game in Philadelphia, for my money their best one of the series, as Kane scored in OT to end the season.
It's about embracing the moment.
"Yeah, I think it's a fun time,'" Hawks head coach Joel Quenneville said Sunday. "The process of getting this far, it makes it all worthwhile along the way. There's some highs, there's some lows, there's some excitement, there's some great days, there's some tough days, and the one thing you don't want to do is get ahead of yourself in the process. We've got some guys that have been there. They know the experience. They know the thinking going into a day like today and going into tomorrow, as well. We'll visit that as a team. There's some guys that they're so excited. You dream about this moment. But at the same time, we've got to keep everything in perspective. We want to make sure that we're confident playing the game and putting yourself in the now position as opposed to ahead of yourself."
Don't count on some long-winded pep talk from Claude Julien to his players before Game 6.
He knows his group too well. It has been here, done that, played a lot of big games the past few seasons. The Bruins head coach was confident and playful during his news conference Sunday, reflective of his comfort in these situations. That rubs off on the rest of the team.
"You don't have to say much to this group," Julien said. "Like I said, we don't say it because we want to say it, but we're an experienced group that has been through a lot. Not just that, but we have a good group of guys that understand what's at stake. They understand what's happening, and they know what they need to do. I don't need to go in there and give this big speech and get these guys riled up because they know what's at stake, and we've proven it in the past, and now we have an opportunity to prove it again tomorrow, and that is up to us to show it on the ice versus talking to a great game in the dressing room and not showing up on the ice. I''d rather see our guys be focused, ready and excited about playing tomorrow, and the word excited should be a key word to tomorrow's game."
Both clubs, of course, have injury concerns with each of their most important forwards -- Hawks captain Jonathan Toews sat out of the third period Saturday night with an undisclosed upper-body injury while Patrice Bergeron went to the hospital to deal with an unspecified injury. He flew home with the team.
Both coaches sounded more optimistic Sunday about each player's situation, although at this point in the season, heck, you have to be careful to not read into that too much.
"Johnny is doing much better today," Quenneville said. "He's progressed. We're optimistic that he might be playing tomorrow night."
Julien didn't go as far on Bergeron, simply saying he's day-to-day.
"I don't know if he'll skate tomorrow. He may,'' Julien said. "And that's what day-to-day is. Again, I'm trying to be as clear as I can here.''
During his French media availability, Julien did say he was more encouraged about Bergeron's situation Sunday than he was Saturday night.
But again, who knows what that means.
All that's known is that the lockout-shortened 2013 season might finally come to an end in early summer Monday night. But not if the Bruins have something to say about it.
7dESPN stats & info