Throughout the Boston Bruins’ heart pounding, gut wrenching battle for Lord Stanley’s Cup in these finals, one thing has become the mantra of the fans: Not in our house.
Well, that will hold true, two fold. Surely fans who held posters donning the phrase were referring to the Vancouver Canucks not hoisting the Cup on the Bruins’ home ice. But at the same time, the flip side is also true. Because they have been unable to steal a single game from the Canucks in British Columbia, neither will the Bruins.
The must-win game to end all must-win games for the Bruins does not take place in the friendly confines of the TD Garden where they have outscored their Canadian counterparts 17-3, but the Rogers Arena, a place lacking in fond memories for the B’s. Twice the Bruins have been shut out there in this series and once the two goals they got were just enough to force one of the shortest overtimes in NHL playoff history.
It’s a riddle that Claude Julien has been desperate to unravel. A statistical enigma. Boston actually posted more points on the road than they did at home during the 2010-11 regular season and was one of the best road teams in the Eastern Conference. Yet in these finals, the Bruins are winless in hostile territory. They have not lost a game in this series on the road by more than one goal, but then again, haven’t done anything to win those close games, either.
However, it is possible for the Bruins to win in Vancouver. It has happened before. Boston topped the Canucks 3-1 while in the midst of a strong road trip in late February. The man with the magic? Milan Lucic, the man who everyone has been waiting for to step up in the absence of injured Nathan Horton, scored the go-ahead goal with less than five minutes remaining.
Lucic has been largely disappointing in the series, recording three points in the six games, while getting physically outmatched by Vancouver at times. However, he’s just one of the Bruins who has been performing a Jekyll and Hyde act that resembles a similar one by Roberto Luongo that fans – present company included – are so eager to jump all over him for. Seventeen goals at home in three games, two goals in three games on the road.
It would be hard to criticize Luongo for his disappearing act, especially given the entire Bruins team has been guilty of the same. It would be hard … if he was more likeable and kept his mouth shut. Instead, he took shots through the media, which were admittedly a tad overblown, at the one man who has been a pillar of strength for this team – Tim Thomas.
As maddening as Thomas’ style in net is, it has worked. He will be the Vezina Trophy winner and should be the Conn Smythe winner for playoff MVP. We can talk about how Brad Marchand needs to be a spark plug and how Mark Recchi needs to be the leader we know he can be, but the bottom line is this team needs to follow Thomas’ example if they want to hoist the Cup. They need to be aggressive.
The Bruins’ biggest fault in this series has been their lack of physicality and intensity, which allowed the Canucks to take it to them. Marchand suggested that in this series, perhaps, the Bruins have been able to be inspired by the roar of their crowd. Well, now the Bruins have to be inspired by the hush of another. To steal a line from another Boston sports figure and alter it slightly, “There’s nothing I’d like better than to shut 18,000 Canucks fans up.”
The Bruins need to be aggressive, take the body and rattle assumed starter Roberto Luongo again. Score a goal first and decisively and revel in the quiet.
Yes, Boston Bruins, there is a Stanley Cup waiting for you. But you have to be willing to go out there and take it.