BOSTON — For the first time this playoff season, the Bruins are facing elimination before Game 7, with the Vancouver Canucks looking to skate the Stanley Cup on the TD Garden ice tonight (8 p.m / TV: NBC, CBC / Radio: 98.5 FM).
Of course, the Bruins are hoping to force their third Game 7 of the tournament, and there will likely be 17,565 fans (minus the occasional blue shirt here and there) hoping they do.
Front line needs to carry the load
In the absence of Nathan Horton, the reconstituted front line of David Krejci between Milan Lucic and Rich Peverley keyed the win in Game 4, with Peverley crashing the net and Krejci and Lucic being opportunistic in the neutral zone.
Lucic, in particular, had a fantastic Game 4. When Lucic is standing and waiting for one of his linemates to break the play open, he’s an average player, based on his quick, heavy shot. But when he’s skating hard, he shows the capability of being a great player, one with better-than-average speed who, while not a Datsyuk-level dazzler on skates, can power through the middle and put the fear of God into an opposing goalie.
So, naturally, if Roberto Luongo can be more afraid than usual, that would help.
Bruins need to limit the Canucks in the middle
In Game 5, Vancouver was successful based mainly on their ability to break up the neutral zone when the Bruins had the puck. They got off their game in Games 3 and 4, going for a crashing physical style that, while not totally out of character, is enough off their game plan that they fell out of sync. The Bruins were able to take advantage of their unevenness with the puck, turned that into chances, and kept Luongo off balance.
In Game 5, the Canucks went back to the swirling, disciplined defensive style that led them to the President’s Trophy in 2010-11, and it paid off — they limited the scoring opportunities for the Bruins, and while their big guns (Sedin, Sedin, Kessler, Burrows) were mostly quiet, their talent up front runs deep, and Public Enemy No. 3 Maxim Lapierre was able to turn a rebound into a goal.
As for Luongo’s comments that he would have made the save, he would be better served to never open his mouth again. Unless he likes that kind of attention.
No big surprises expected. Look for Shane Hnidy, Steve Kampfer and Jordan Caron to be in the press box tonight and Horton still out. It’s up to these guys to keep the season alive for Boston:
17 Lucic … 46 Krejci … 49 Peverley
63 Marchand … 37 Bergeron … 28 Recchi
73 Ryder … 23 Kelly … 19 Seguin
20 Paille … 11 Campbell … 22 Thornton
33 Chara … 44 Seidenberg
21 Ference … 55 Boychuk
12 Kaberle … 54 McQuaid