By Michael Hurley, CBSBoston.com
This just in: Winning a Stanley Cup is difficult.
Most of the current Bruins roster knows that firsthand, as two years ago they had to erase 2-0 and 3-2 deficits against Vancouver. They, of course, did that, forcing a Game 7 in Vancouver and winning 4-0 to earn that title. This year, it’s too early to say whether or not their season will have the same end result, but they’re unquestionably in a much better position to do it this time around.
But now, the real work begins. Nothing in the world was more important to the Bruins than winning Game 3 on Monday night. Now, it’s meaningless history, because anything short of a perfect effort Wednesday night in Game 4, and the balance of power in the series will shift right back to Chicago. While it may seem like the Bruins seized control of the series with Monday’s 2-0 win, the fact is that the Bruins have outscored the Blackhawks by just two goals over the course of nearly 13 full periods.
Now, nothing in the world is more important for the Bruins than winning Game 4, thereby inviting Lord Stanley’s Cup to the Windy City this weekend and putting a world of pressure on Chicago going forward. Here’s a look at how they can do it.
1. Survive Early
The greatest mystery of Game 3 was the impossible-to-explain appearance of the Blackhawks simply not giving an all-out effort. The Bruins likely deserve some credit for imposing their will and making it hard for Chicago, but overall, there was very little desperation on display by the Blackhawks. Once they fell behind by two goals, they looked like a team waiting to lose rather than one willing to fight to win — or at least try to win.
If this were an early round and if the Blackhawks were the clearly inferior team, it might be safe to assume they’d roll over and quit. But this is the Stanley Cup Final, and these Blackhawks were the best team the NHL had to offer all season long. They will not fade away quietly, and I expect them to come out guns a-blazing early on in Game 4.
For the Bruins, that might mean treating the first 10 minutes like a road game. If the Bruins can stick with their defensive game plan, limit Chicago opportunities, lay big hits whenever the opportunity presents itself, block shots and allow Tuukka Rask to see shots, keeping the Blackhawks off the board early may deflate their sails, allowing the Bruins to mount an attack of their own.
The Blackhawks are going to hit the ice looking to get an early goal and take the crowd out of the game. It’s up to the Bruins to withstand the surge.
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