BOSTON – Teams try to avoid risky plays in the post-season that they might try in the regular season. And when the ice surface isn’t smooth, even greater care is necessary.
Boston took that approach with less-than-ideal ice conditions during its 2-0 win over the Chicago Blackhawks that gave the Bruins a 2-1 lead in the Stanley Cup finals on Monday night.
The ice was “pretty bad,” Boston defenceman Dennis Seidenberg said. “When you try to shoot, try to swing your (stick) blade on the ice, it feels like it’s sandpaper. It’s really rough. When you try to pass, the puck bounces.”
The solution? Keep things simple.
“If there’s a play to be made, you have to make sure it’s an easy one,” he said.
Even Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask has to be aware of the conditions.
“The ice was pretty good in the start of the periods,” he said. “Then pretty quickly it got really chippy. It’s tough to get the read off of shots when it’s really a mess out there with the ice. You’ve just got to be extra careful with the crazy bounces and stuff. You don’t want to make any stupid mistakes playing the puck, either.”
MARCHAND THE MENACE: Brad Marchand is known in Boston as the “Little Ball of Hate,” a nickname that captures his stature—he’s listed at 5-foot-9—and his tendency to get on the nerves of opposing players.
An offensive threat who led the Bruins in scoring in the regular season, Marchand entered Monday night’s Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals tied for the team lead in penalty minutes.
But he’s yet to get sent to the box in the finals against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Give him time.
“I haven’t really tried to do a whole lot,” he said. “I’m just trying to play the game. Everyone is so caught up in trying to antagonize guys and stuff like that; it just doesn’t happen like that. It comes with the game and you have to react to different situations.”
Marchand was asked after Monday morning’s skate what the difference is between a dirty player and one who is just tough.
“When you’re getting suspensions and stuff like that, that’s playing dirty,” he said. “You play hard, a lot of things happen in a game. But I don’t think anybody is out there trying to injure guys.”
Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said he understood that Marchand was just “doing his job.”
“We know the style of hockey he wants to play, and we’re not going to buy into the antics and the things he wants to try to pull on us out there,” he said. “That’s the best way to control a player like that, I guess.”
YOUTHFUL TOEWS: In 2006, Jonathan Toews was an 18-year-old star waiting to be chosen near the top of the NHL draft. During the Stanley Cup finals that year, he was one of the leading prospects who attended a game, a practice the NHL began in 1994.
He was the third player drafted seven years ago, then won the cup with Chicago in 2010. Now, as captain of the Blackhawks, Toews has another chance in their series against the Boston Bruins. Before Game 3 on Monday night, with the series tied at one game apiece, four of the top prospects in the draft scheduled for June 30 visited TD Garden.
“It was a special one,” Toews said of his visit to the series between the Carolina Hurricanes and Edmonton Oilers. “It’s weird to think of 2006. The time has flown by.”
The four prospects at Monday’s game were defencemen Seth Jones of Portland of the Western Hockey League and Darnell Nurse of Sault Ste. Marie of the Ontario Hockey League, and two players from Halifax of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League: centre Nathan MacKinnon and left wing Jonathan Drouin.
SPEEDY STALBERG: Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville wanted more speed in his lineup for Game 3, so he turned to right wing Viktor Stalberg and benched Brandon Bollig against the Boston Bruins on Monday night.
Bollig played the first two games of the series because Quenneville wanted a more physical player against the hard-hitting Bruins. But after Bollig’s turnover led to Daniel Paille scoring in overtime in Boston’s 2-1 win in Game 2 on Saturday night, Quenneville benched him. Stalberg had played 15 of Chicago’s first 17 playoff games this year going into the Stanley Cup finals.
“I think we need some speed from him. I think we need energy. I think that he’s a threat off the rush, in zone, defensively responsible,” Quenneville said.
NOT WHAT HE APPEARS TO BE: Bruins forward Chris Kelly is rarely in the spotlight and speaks quietly with reporters after games. But Boston coach Claude Julien says he’s just the opposite around his teammates.
“He’s subdued when he talks to you guys,” Julien told reporters before Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals Monday night. “There’s no doubt in the dressing room, even on the ice, even practices, he does have a temper, a good temper. He’s demanding, not just of himself, but everybody else around.”
Kelly scored Boston’s first goal in the 2-1 overtime victory that evened the series at one game apiece Saturday night.
BOSTON STRONG: The siblings of MIT police officer Sean Collier, who was killed by the Boston Marathon bombing suspects, were the Bruins’ honorary Fan Banner Captains.
Rob Rogers, Jenn Rogers and Jennifer Lemmerman were on the ice waving a “Boston Strong” banner before the teams took the ice. The crowd gave them a rousing ovation, as it has for most of the post-season when the victims and first-responders from the April 15 attacks have been honoured. The Bruins have also been wearing decals on their helmets of a “Boston Strong” ribbon.