BOSTON – The Boston Bruins and the Chicago Blackhawks will enter Game 3 tonight at TD Garden and each team expects the same type of game. The Bruins will try and use their physical style to set the tone in their first home game of the series for Boston.
The TD Garden does not hold as many hockey fans as the United Center, as Coach Julien noted in his press conference this morning. “We may not hold as much in our building but the decibels will be just as high.”
One has to suspect the Bruins will come out flying tonight in the first period, unlike their horrendous first period Saturday night in Game 2. Goaltender Tuukka Rask was immense in keeping the score just 1-0 after the first period. The Bruins legs were just not moving like I expect them to be at the start of tonight’s game. A sold out “Boston Strong” crowd will be all fired up with the series balance about to shift again.
Gregory Campbell, who broke his leg in the previous round against the Pittsburgh Penguins, is in the building and as Julien notes, is “part of the family.” I’m sure the decibel level talked about by Julien will be airplane level when he appears on the video screen above the ice tonight. The fourth line has certainly lost its luster with his injury. Julien loves to roll out four lines but it has become more difficult without their center, Campbell.
Julien should stick with Danny Paille on the third line tonight with Chris Kelly and Tyler Seguin. After the sluggish first period, Julien moved Paille from the fourth line and the team seemed to thrive. After giving up 19 shots in the first period, the Bruins shut down the Hawks for two periods. The Bruins outshot the Hawks 16-9 in that span and just dominated the OT with another seven shots before Kelly’s game winner.
David Krejci, Milan Lucic, and a hobbled Nathan Horton didn’t generate too much in Game 2 but should excel tonight on home ice. Krejci, Lucic, and Horton are the three leading scorers in the NHL Playoffs thus far. Both team’s power-plays are anemic, perhaps as a result of both clubs having tremendous penalty killing skills.
There is little time & space on the ice in this series and somehow someone has to create that valuable space to generate more scoring opportunities. All the while though, there are two netminders who are at the top of their profession waiting to take those opportunities away. Tuukka Rask and the Hawk’s Corey Crawford stand to be the most valuable players on the ice.
No matter how this series is dismantled and examined, there is very little separating the clubs. As mentioned not much time and space, it’s going to take turnovers, deflections, and a little lady luck to be the winner of this Stanley Cup Final. Games 3 and 4 at home bode well for the Bruins and they’ll be looking to take a commanding 3-1 advantage heading back to Chicago for Game 5.