Bruins not ready to rest
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Had yesterday been a normal day, the Bruins would have touched down in Vancouver by mid-afternoon and made Rich Peverley-like speed for their downtown hotel.
These are not, however, normal times.
On the day prior to Game 5, which was a travel day, the Bruins opted for rest instead of practice. Yesterday, had they continued their regular routine, a quiet afternoon would have awaited them upon arrival. It would certainly have been within reason, given the late night Monday following their 5-2 Game 6 win at TD Garden.
Instead, they hit the Rogers Arena ice for a full practice — Tim Thomas was the only player granted a breather — shortly after 5 p.m. local time.
After all, they have the entire summer to rest.
“That’s what it was today,’’ said defenseman Dennis Seidenberg. “We skated today instead of not doing anything. That was our change that we’ve decided to do.’’
There was little systems play, down-low battle drills, or power-play tuneups that usually make up a standard practice. Instead, yesterday was more like a morning skate — an on-ice session meant to prime legs for moving, hearts for pumping, and minds for focusing.
“When you’ve been on the plane for six hours, we just wanted to come out here, get the blood flowing, and loosen up a little bit to get ourselves ready for tomorrow,’’ said coach Claude Julien. “Simple as that.
“I don’t think there was anything we did today that was with regards to systems or stuff like that. It was just very, very simple — getting the guys ready for tomorrow.’’
In this series, the Bruins have dominated at TD Garden. They pumped eight pucks past Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo in Game 3. They put four more behind him in Game 4, which prompted coach Alain Vigneault to tap Cory Schneider for relief duty.
It wouldn’t be the last time the Marblehead, Mass., native saw ice time in his hometown rink. In Game 6, after Brad Marchand, Milan Lucic, and Andrew Ference poured shots through Luongo in the first period, Schneider took over the crease for the second time in two Garden matches.
But the home dominance (the Bruins rolled up a 17-3 goal advantage) hasn’t translated to road results. The Bruins dropped Game 1 in Vancouver, 1-0. In Game 2, they lost in overtime, 3-2. In Game 5, Maxim Lapierre scored the only goal in a 1-0 win.
Tonight, the Bruins have to find some answers if they want to grab what they’ve chased their entire lives.
“I think we need to alter our game,’’ Julien said. “We’d already started talking about what we need to do [Monday] as soon as the game was done.
“I think it was important to set the tone and set the stage for Game 7. We started doing that. We’ve talked about that.
“Our guys realize what they didn’t do here well enough and what needs to be done. We’re going to be ready to put that on the ice tomorrow.’’
All the Bruins have to do is rewind the video on their three losses. They made Luongo look like a champ instead of a chump.
They didn’t get enough traffic in front of the net. They weren’t in position to follow up initial shots. They didn’t get pucks deep, nor did they deposit their dumps in the right areas. They didn’t generate enough speed through center ice to be first on pucks in the offensive zone. They couldn’t establish their forecheck and work their down-low cycle game.
So they know what they must do. Trouble is, making such adjustments is easier said than done.
Tonight, Vigneault will have the last change. If Julien rolls out his first line of Peverley, David Krejci, and Milan Lucic, Vigneault can counter with his de facto shutdown defensive pairing of Dan Bieksa and Alex Edler. If Boston’s fourth line goes out for a faceoff, Vigneault can deploy his No. 1 unit of Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, and Alex Burrows.
Then there’s the home crowd. A year ago, Michigan native Ryan Kesler was here, shooting for Olympic gold. But the spectators who usually wanted Kesler to succeed were pulling for Team Canada instead.
“One difference is that I think I’ve got 18,000 on my side this time,’’ Kesler said. “An entire city and country. It’s going be a little different that way. It’s going to be fun.’’
This will be the first Game 7 in a Cup Final in Bruins history. But they’ve been in similar situations. In the first round this year, they closed out Montreal in Game 7 at home. They advanced to the Final by beating Tampa Bay in Game 7.
“We want all the work that we’ve put into this whole season and this whole playoffs to pay off,’’ Thomas. “We want to accomplish the goal we’ve set ourselves toward, which is winning the Stanley Cup.
“I can only speak for myself. But I’m not thinking of it as pressure. I’m thinking of it more that this is the reality.
“The series is tied 3-3. We’re on the road. We have to find a way to win this game to get what we want. We all know what that is.’’