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Mid-game turnabout may have changed Cup Final

Sunday, 06.16.2013 / 1:58 AM / Blackhawks vs Bruins - 2013 Stanley Cup Final

By Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

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Mid-game turnabout may have changed Cup Final
After being overwhelmed by the Chicago Blackhawks in the first period of Game 2, the Boston Bruins regrouped and evened the Stanley Cup Final with a 2-1 overtime victory.

CHICAGO -- When the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins battled for nearly six full periods in Game 1 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final, it was as if they had played two different contests. The Bruins dominated early; the Hawks rallied to win in triple overtime.

Game 2 on Saturday night at United Center also looked a lot like two different games -- but this time, the first one lasted only 20 minutes. After the Blackhawks completely dominated the first period, the Bruins were able to radically alter the course of events and eventually snatch a split in the series with a 2-1 overtime victory.

If the Bruins are able to win three more games this season and capture the Stanley Cup for the second time in three years, what transpired between the first and second periods might be remembered years from now as "The Talk."

The recollection of players about what exactly happened in the Boston dressing room during the first intermission varied, but the general idea is this: Coach Claude Julien had some constructive criticism after his team was badly outplayed in the first 20 minutes, and the players followed suit with some advice for each other as well.

"We all knew that we had a terrible first period and they came out flying," said forward Daniel Paille, whose goal at 13:48 gave Boston the victory. "You would expect better from us. We kept each other accountable. We had Claude come in here and tell us something and we had players telling each other. It was realizing that we all needed to be better, not just one guy. It was good that we responded in the second period."

Fans and media members always want to envision this scenario as the coach "peeling the paint off the walls" or the captain giving "the speech." That stereotypical scenario is far less likely at the NHL level than many people might think, but on this night it was made clear after the game that what did happen during the first intermission was pretty important for the Bruins.

Given the Bruins were already down 1-0 in the series and 1-0 after one period, the chance to win the Cup might have been vanishing.

"You've got to pick the moments and pick the spots to yell at guys, and you've got to respond," defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said. "We've got to be honest in here to each other. We all knew it wasn't our best period. We're man enough or grown up enough to tell each other what to do better and to play better and that's what we did. We figured it out halfway through the second period. ... We just told ourselves to be smarter managing the puck and just go from there."

The next question for Seidenberg zeroed in on the "yelling," and he backtracked a little.

"Not really yelling -- just telling guys they have to be better," he said. "We all knew we weren't playing well. It wasn't really yelling. It was just telling each other to be better. Nobody likes to hear that, but it needs to be said once in a while."

Boston clearly responded -- and changed the complexion of the contest in the process. Chicago had 30 shot attempts in the first period to the Bruins' five. That's an incredible disparity in any hockey game, it's almost incomprehensible in a matchup between two teams battling for hockey's ultimate prize.

The Blackhawks had just 26 shot attempts (and only eight reached the net) in the final 40 minutes of regulation as the Bruins slowed the tempo of the game and vastly decreased the number of quality scoring chances the allowed.

By the time overtime began, Boston was pressing the play and controlling the puck. It took nearly 14 minutes, but they found the winner.

"We started playing [after the first intermission]," Julien said. "I mean that in the right way. We were on our heels. We were second to the puck. We were just throwing pucks out of our own end. We weren't making plays. We were standing still in our own end -- a couple of point-blank shots. We were just not ready to play. After the first period [and] a bit of a chat, we got ourselves going. We got our feet moving at the start, then the rest followed, and eventually it just got better."

"You've got to pick the moments and pick the spots to yell at guys, and you've got to respond. We've got to be honest in here to each other. We all knew it wasn't our best period. We're man enough or grown up enough to tell each other what to do better and to play better and that's what we did. We figured it out halfway through the second period. ... We just told ourselves to be smarter managing the puck and just go from there."
-- Boston defenseman Dennis Seidenberg

The Bruins felt they changed the game with their work after the first period. Down the hallway, the Blackhawks felt differently. They contended that their undoing was of their own doing -- and not anything the Bruins did or changed.

"We just didn't continue to play the way we'd been playing," Chicago captain Jonathan Toews said. "We let them have the puck a little too often. We didn't move our feet. We were too easy to check."

Coach Joel Quenneville added, "We had the perfect start to the game, then we stopped doing what made us successful. We stood around. They countered."

There were theories on how the Bruins were able to achieve this. Boston registered 39 hits in the first two periods, so the line of thinking goes that the Bruins exacted a toll on the Blackhawks and got them to play a different way.

"I figured we had to do something, because we weren't doing much in that first period," said Bruins forward Chris Kelly, who scored the tying goal late in the second period. "We're a big, strong team and we want to finish our hits when they're there and try to wear teams down. We didn't really have the puck a whole lot, so there was lots of times to hit. Maybe it was a little one-sided that way."

The other was that the Bruins, in the words of Seidenberg, had to "wake up" -- and when they did just that during the second period, it led to the balance of play tipping in Boston's favor.

It is almost certainly a combination of the two.

"I think we started skating," Julien said. "It kind of at least leveled the play a little bit more. In the first, they were skating and we weren't. It was totally lopsided. It was a hard period to coach and to watch. I think after that first period, we just decided to get our legs moving, moving the puck forward. I still thought we battled the puck in the second period. We weren't managing it well. But our legs were moving. Slowly things started going our way."

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