LAKE PLACID, N.Y. – Boston Bruins winger Mark Recchi has pretty much seen it all in his long NHL career and knows firsthand that anything’s possible in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Lose the first two games of a series at home and come back to win? Been there, done that. Win the first two games on the road and lose the next four? Been there, done that, too.
The victim both times? The Montreal Canadiens, and Recchi hopes the trend continues. The Habs beat the Bruins twice on the road to open their current series before falling 4-2 on Monday night at home in the Bell Centre. Game 4 is Thursday night in Montreal.
“If we win tomorrow, maybe we’ll see some similarities,” Recchi said Wednesday. “It’s still a long road ahead.”
Recchi was with Carolina five years ago when the Hurricanes dropped their first two games at home to Montreal and rallied to win four straight (three in Montreal), their springboard to winning the Stanley Cup. And he was on the Canadiens in 1996 when the Habs won the first two games against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden and then lost the next four.
“I’ve been through both sides, but at this point it’s more talking about what we’re going to have to do to get back in the series,” said Recchi, who has three assists in the series. “But there’s obviously some thought about what they’re thinking. Obviously, it’s an important game for them tomorrow—they’ve got to be thinking that way—and it’s an important one for us.”
Bruins coach Claude Julien put the team through a brisk 75-minute practice late Wednesday morning at the conclusion of a two-day respite in this Olympic village, and something they desperately need to do is improve the power play. Boston is 0-for-11 with the extra man in the tight series as Montreal has neutralized the hard shots the Bruins like to take from the point. The Canadiens are struggling, too, with only one goal in 11 power-play chances.
“We need to get this thing going, and, hopefully, better,” Julien said. “But you also understand that in the playoffs, PKs (penalty-killers) seem to be trumping the power plays. We’ve done a pretty good job against Montreal. When you play a team over and over again, you find out the tendencies, so it’s a little better than playing just one game and moving on to the next team during the regular season.”
Julien didn’t pinpoint one aspect of the Boston power play that was of concern.
“We have to get the puck moving, get the puck down low and outnumber them in front of the net,” defenceman Dennis Seidenberg said. “That’s been the plan the whole time. We just haven’t executed as we’d like.”
The Canadiens played superbly in the first two games, then lost their composure in the first period Monday night and paid for it as the Bruins built a 3-0 lead and barely held on. Habs goalie Carey Price criticized his teammates afterward, saying they weren’t ready to play.
“He’s been our best player all year, and if he doesn’t think we’re focused, then the guys have got to get ready to play,” Canadiens defenceman P.K. Subban said. “He’s probably the most focused guy on game day, he’s pretty serious, and everybody has their own way of getting ready.
“I just think that for us we weren’t ready at the start of the game and that was the biggest problem. So we’ve got to come out and find a way to get up and get ready to play right from the drop of the puck. You can’t afford to get behind the eight-ball early, you’ve got to be ready to go right off the hop. They’re a desperate team and we have to play desperate hockey this time.”
NOTES: Injured Montreal forward Jeff Halpern, who has been sidelined for all but four of the Canadiens’ last 14 games, practiced Wednesday and played wing on a line with Lars Eller and Travis Moen. That probably leaves Benoit Pouliot as the odd man out with the top two lines intact and David Desharnais centring a line with Tom Pyatt and Ryan White. Pouliot took a bad penalty Monday night. … Boston’s Chris Kelly, who was sporting a shiner around his right eye after being checked into a goalpost by Montreal’s Scott Gomez, returned to Boston to be evaluated. Julien said there might be a fracture, “but it’s nothing that would prevent him from playing.”
AP freelance writer Sean Farrell in Montreal contributed to this report.