Boston Bruins are no strangers to clawing their way back from Cup precipice
Boston Bruins right wing Jaromir Jagr (68) reacts after a goal by the Chicago Blackhawks in the second period during Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals, Saturday, June 22, 2013, in Chicago. (AP / Nam Y. Huh)
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
Published Sunday, June 23, 2013 6:06PM EDT
BOSTON -- No panic. No need for Knute Rockne speeches. But maybe no Patrice Bergeron.
The small Boston Bruins contingent that met the media on Sunday exuded cool in the face of a do-or-die Game 6 Monday night against the surging Chicago Blackhawks.
Boston coach Claude Julien apparently won't be listening to any Tony Robbins motivational tapes. When it comes to clawing their way back from a Stanley Cup final precipice, the Bruins have been there, done that.
"You don't have to say much to this group," Julien told reporters at TD Garden. "We're an experienced group that's been through a lot. .. I don't need to go in there and give this big speech and get these guys riled up. Because they know what's at stake and we've proven it in the past. Now we have an opportunity to do it again (Monday).
"I didn't see anybody hanging their heads today," the coach added. "If anything I think they're looking forward to the challenge tomorrow, and that's a great sign, I think, for a coaching staff to see their players like that ... Talk right now is cheap, you've got to show it. And that's what I'm going to give our team the opportunity to do (Monday)."
Down three games to two, the Bruins face a similar situation two years ago against the Canucks. They scored four goals in four minutes 14 seconds in the first period en route to a 5-2 win to force Game 7 in Vancouver, where they blanked the Canucks 4-0 to win the Cup.
Asked what that experience taught them, goalie Tuukka Rask said it was to stay in the moment.
"We have to focus on the game itself and focus on what we have to do on the ice," said the lanky Finn, who backed up Tim Thomas during the 2011 Cup run. "You can't be thinking about possible scenarios after the game. We have to be focused on our job and I think that's what we did in the past."
The Bruins know all about leaving it until the last moment in these playoffs, needing a three-goal third-period comeback to dispatch the Maple Leafs in the first round.
There was no word Sunday on the condition of Bergeron, a key forward who required a hospital visit during Game 5. There is a question mark over his head, as well as Chicago captain Jonathan Toews.
While there were no answers, given the magnitude of Monday's game it would likely take something heavy-duty for a star to sit out.
"Everybody has got an ice bag here or there or everywhere," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said when asked about the toll the playoff took on players. "But they'll do whatever it takes to get out on the ice."
At this time of year, teams are also less than sentimental. They make do with what they have left.
"He's a big part of our team obviously," Rask said of Bergeron. "He does everything for us. But we can't feel sorry for ourselves if he's missing. We just have to play with the guys that we have."
The Bruins have other problems, however. They need to deal with the speed of the Hawks and find a way to contain Patrick Kane, who has scored three goals in the last two games while ghosting around the Boston goal.
Boston also has to get off to a better start. A hard-charging Chicago has grabbed each of the last two games by the scruff of the neck and even Julien acknowledged his team looked nervous in the opening of Saturday's 3-1 loss.
The Hawks' speed and ability to break out has resulted in odd-man rushes. It hasn't helped that the Bruins have passed like Mr. Magoo at times.
Asked about Brad Marchand's play, Julien broadened his answer to encompass his whole team.
"I don't think he's played terrible but certainly he knows he can be better. But a lot of our guys do too. We all need to be better in order to get ourselves into this series here. And we feel confident that we can."
And quizzed about Zdeno Chara who was minus-five the last two games despite collecting a goal and two assists, Julien defended his captain who has clearly been targeted by the Hawks.
"It's pretty obvious that they're throwing the pucks in his corner and they want to try and get him to turn and tire him out. But he's a well-trained athlete that can handle that. You'll see that in the next game and hopefully the one after that."
Julien also spoke of the thin line separating the two teams in an drama-filled series that has already gone to three overtimes. And he spoke with pride of his players' commitment.
"This team has shown a lot of pride and guts, as far as going out there and competing," he said.
He had less to say on the condition of Bergeron.
Asked if there was an update, the coach said: "Yes. He's day to day."
He might as well have informed the media that Bergeron has two legs. Julien, in full loose-lips-sink-ships mode, refused to even specify if it was an upper or lower injury.
"Body injury," the coach said.
The normally affable Julien even became a little irritable when reporters went back at him on Bergeron, trying to pry information out of him.
Marchand was also coy when asked what he had said to Bergeron, who flew home with the team Sunday, when he saw him.
"Yeah, I said he looked really good today. He had a nice suit on, very dashing," Marchand said with a smirk.
Ultimately Julien sounded slightly optimistic.
"He's day-to-day and day-to-day is really good news, to me anyways," said Julien.
Quenneville also sounded positive.
"Johnny is doing much better today. He's progressed. We're optimistic that he might be playing (Monday) night."
Carl Soderberg filled in for Bergeron when he left the game.
"I may have to juggle some players around but that will happen more (Monday) when we find out more about Bergie," Julien said.
The Bruins did not skate, with just Julien and four players made available -- the same number made available by the Hawks
Asked about Johnny Boychuk's hit on Toews, that may have the one that sidelined the Hawks captain, Julien said he agreed with the league -- that it was clean.
Like his coach, Rask exuded calm Sunday. Game 5 was clearly behind him.
"It's over with ... We've moved on," said Rask. "Beautiful Sunday here in Boston."