June 17, 2013

Home ice helps, but picking up where they left off key for B's

By Jesse Connolly

 Bruins center Chris Kelly sets up in front of 'Hawks goalie Corey Crawford during Game 1. (Getty Images)

After earning a split out in Chicago, the Bruins return home looking to take a 2-1 series lead over the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Final.

The B’s lost a heartbreaker in the series opener, squandering countless scoring chances after regulation ended in an eventual triple-overtime setback. Unlike they did in 2011, however, Boston avoided being forced to have to win four of the next five games, recovering from a dismal start to grab a 2-1, overtime victory in Game 2 at United Center.

With their split out in Chicago, the Bruins stole home-ice advantage. They hope to put it to good use in Game 3 Monday night.

“Well, there's no doubt you're a lot happier at home than you are on the road, right?” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “But we've got a great crowd here. Our fans have been great. What can you say about the Chicago fans for them? Let's give credit where credit is due. It's pretty awesome when you go into that building and listen to them.

“Our fans are very capable of doing the same thing. We may not hold as much in our building, but the decibels will be just as good as it was at the United Center.”

TD Garden is a place the Blackhawks haven’t been to since back in March of 2011. Goaltender Corey Crawford and Co. fell by a score of 3-0 to the B’s.

“Being on the ice here for the first time, some of these guys haven't been in this building at all,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “The boards are a lot livelier. Some of the buildings we played in the playoffs, like Detroit, you get to check out the ice, we expect a loud building, we expect an amazing pace to the game. But let's make sure it's what we do and let's be excited about the challenge we have coming in here. Let's not wait for things to happen; let's try to dictate and be proactive in that area.”

One tangible advantage the Bruins will have is the all-important last line change, which Quenneville capitalized on – especially in Game 1 – in Chicago by getting his big guns out on the ice when the Bruins put their bottom two lines over the boards.

“There's no doubt it makes it a little bit easier,” Julien said when asked if last change would enable him to give more time to the fourth line. “Doesn't mean it's going to happen all the time, but it certainly is a lot easier. Joel's a pretty good coach, smart coach. When he senses something, he'll take advantage of it. 

“I had to be extra careful in Chicago with that. But, again, tonight hopefully it's a little easier. Nonetheless, we're in the Finals here, you got to do what you got to do. Sometimes you may play guys a little bit more, but they're capable of handling the ice time. You're right, that last change will hopefully give me a little bit of an easier change.” 

While the Bruins hope to reap the benefits of the change in venue, they’re hoping for a few things to carry over from Game 2. Boston got some much-needed production out of its third line, with a newly-formed trio of Chris Kelly, Dan Paille and Tyler Seguin accounting for both of the B’s goals in the victory.

“I think on my goal it was a great five‑guy effort.,” said Kelly, who tied things up during the second period with his first goal of the postseason. “Andrew [Ference] made a pinch, Tyler was in on the play and got it to Daniel, and Daniel took it to the net.  I just happened to be there, tapped it in. 

“You know, I thought Paille played extremely well the whole night.  His goal, great pass by Segs.  I thought both of them played extremely well.  Their feet were moving the whole night.”

While that line may have had their feet moving “the whole night,” the Bruins as a whole were sleepwalking for most of the first half of the game, including during a first period in which they were outshot 19-4. But the tide turned after Kelly’s goal and Boston controlled the play from there on out, especially during overtime when they held a significant edge in scoring chances.

“After the first period, I felt we gradually got a little bit better, little better in the second, little better in the third,” Kelly said. “ I thought the overtime period was by far our best period.  We dictated the play, played more on our toes, controlled the flow.”

The Black and Gold will look to pick up right where they left off when the puck drops after 8 o’clock.

Twitter: @JesseNEHJ
Email: jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com