BOSTON–The game on the ice can be both as precise as a threaded pass through the slot, and yet as fickle as a goal 11 seconds into overtime. As pointed out by Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference, it’s not a game where you have time to plan and execute in a set position. It requires quick thinking and a little bit of improvisation. And as the Bruins have experienced so far in these playoffs, it only takes one shot to change the course of a shift, a game, a series and a playoff run.
Down two games to none in the Stanley Cup Final, Boston finds itself in a familiar yet otherwise unfortunate position. In the first round against Montreal, the Bruins were on the brink of being swept, before taking the final four games from the Canadiens in an epic 7-game series.
Now, despite once again being down two games, the locker room remained upbeat and confident in its abilities, especially with the home crowd behind them for the next two games.
“It’s been great all along, and it’s great to be home,” Ference said. “Obviously we have fans who have waited a long time for the finals so it’s going to be fun. But obviously there is a job to be done.”
That job, according to Ference, does not have to be difficult or complicated. In fact, they should be able to play the game they have known all season
“If you start reinventing the wheel at this point in the game, you’re beating yourself,” Ference said. “I mean, obviously you don’t sit there and bang your head against the wall, trying the same thing over and over again, but I don’t think we are a team that’s really done that.”
One change that the Bruins could be implementing is in the lines. When asked what the line situation will look like tonight, Bruins head coach Claude Julien said that it won’t be announced until game time. However, there have been some whispers that big-bruiser Shawn Thornton could step up into the lineup tonight, and Julien didn’t discount anyone from play.
“You’re going to see 23 guys out there on the ice today,” Julien said. “And we’ll make some decisions after warmup.”
One advantage to having Thornton out on the ice is his physical presence. The Vancouver defense has an uncanny ability to make the first pass and break out of their own zone and into the neutral zone pristinely. With Thorton’s aggressive nature down against the boards, it could be the push or change the Bruins need to extend the series into the late games.
Thornton played every game in the Montreal and Flyers series, but only saw two games against Tampa Bay. Thornton has yet to see the ice against the Canucks so far, but says he’s ready if he’s called upon.
If Thornton is called up, there is the possibility that rookie Tyler Seguin will sit. Seguin, who made his playoff debut against Tampa Bay, has slid considerably since he put up three goals and three assists in two games. Since then, he has only put up 10 shots on net without posting a point in seven games.
Though his stats wouldn’t say so, Seguin mentioned that he “feels great” and is not feeling any wear and tear from the rigorous travel and schedule. When asked how he keeps himself energetic and fresh, he commented that he has no excuse not to be.
“I’m not allowed to have an excuse,” Seguin said. “I have all the other guys on me saying I’m not allowed to be tired because I’m so young. So I feel great.”
As it has been all year for the young-blood center, him and the rest of the team will have to wait for the game time decision to see who is playing. But if there is one thing this team has known this year, it’s how to improvise and how to bounce back from whatever is thrown at them. Forward Michael Ryder also seemed in high spirits following morning skate, saying that the bounce back is nothing new. While banking on the come back is not his first choice, knowing that they have been there provides some extra confidence, especially going into Game 3.
“All year, we always bounce back when we had the opportunity, and against Montreal we showed that,” Ryder said. “We lost the first game against Tampa also, and we lost the first two here in Vancouver. And even though we’re down two-nothing, we still have confidence in here, and it’s just a matter of us going out tonight and showing them that we’re not giving up. We’re going to come right at them.”