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Boston's neutral-zone miscues lead to 0-2 series hole

Sunday, 06.05.2011 / 6:59 PM / 2011 Stanley Cup Final - Canucks v Bruins

By Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

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Boston's neutral-zone miscues lead to 0-2 series hole
The Bruins have fell victim to neutral-zone turnovers, the main reason they're down 2-0 to the Canucks in the Stanley Cup Final.
BOSTON -- In each of the first two games of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, the Boston Bruins have essentially played the Vancouver Canucks to a draw; only to have a late goal erase more than 59 minutes of solid work.

On both occasions, the Canucks were able to take advantage of a Bruins miscue with the puck to counter attack. Boston would do well to avoid those untimely errors as the series shifts to TD Garden for Monday's Game 3 (8 p.m. ET, VERSUS, CBC, RDS) and the Bruins try to get back in it.

"I don't think we played very well to what our standards are all about," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "I think the decision making, the puck management, it's what's costing us games. When you turn pucks over in the neutral zone, this is a team that thrives on it. We know that they thrive on it, yet we kept turning pucks over in the neutral zone. We have to be a little better in those areas."

Teams always preach getting the puck deep, and when the Bruins have done that in this series and forced the Canucks to go the length of the ice they have been able to keep Vancouver off the scoreboard. The last-minute winner in each of the games so far has come when Boston was unable to put the puck behind the Canucks' defensemen.

Had the puck gone below the Vancouver goal line in the final 30 seconds of Game 1, the Vancouver defensemen would not have been able to send a long diagonal pass to Ryan Kesler at the far blue line that started the ensuing scramble that led to Raffi Torres' goal with 18.5 seconds left.

Had Mark Recchi been able to corral Andrew Ference's errant pass along the right wall at the start of overtime in Game 2 -- or at least chip it into the Vancouver end -- Sami Salo wouldn't have been able to open up the defense with a quick outlet to Alexandre Burrows at the Boston blue line.

"It was a turnover in the neutral zone," Patrice Bergeron said Saturday night. "I'm not sure how he got alone, but obviously he made the good fake to fake that shot and come around [Tim Thomas], but we got caught. We won the draw but we have to make sure we do a better job in the neutral zone."

Added Ference: "We're going for a quick transition. I think it was Recchi on my side, and instead of getting the right angle on his stick, I think their D-man was playing it tight and kind of one-touched it right back up the ice."

Both games have played out in a similar fashion. Boston has controlled play for long stretches in the second period. The Bruins weren't able to capitalize on that in Game 1, but they struck for two goals in Game 2 and had a 2-1 lead heading into the final 20 minutes.

Vancouver has taken control of the proceedings in the third period each time. The Canucks won Game 1 and got the equalizing goal they needed to force overtime in Game 2.

What plagued the Bruins on the winning goals wasn’t necessarily an isolated incident -- Vancouver has been able to find more time with the puck and create more momentum during the third period in part because Boston has conceded chances by turning the puck over.

"I don't know if it's them taking over in the third period. I think our team certainly has to be better with our puck management, our decision making," Julien said. "We need to play a little bit more like we did in the second period. We're capable of doing that.

"As far as I'm concerned, we're taking responsibilities for this loss. It's our own fault. We beat ourselves with some bad decision making and some poor puck management. You take responsibility and you make the corrections that you have to do and you move on."

Quote of the Day

I feel that responsibility, I've felt it for the last two years. We core guys get a lot of minutes, we get a lot of opportunity out there. Our teammates, the organization and fans look to us to be the guys to put the puck in the net and to create momentum out there.

— Jordan Eberle on taking his game and the Edmonton Oilers to the next level