Despite his team dropping a pair of games by a combined score of 9-6 to the Chicago Blackhawks and falling behind 3-2 in the best-of-7 series, Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask said there were some positives to build on for Game 6 Monday at TD Garden (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS).
"Yeah, I think so. There's been some good things and some not-so-good things," Rask said in the Bruins' dressing room during an off-day Sunday. "But we just have to realize we almost have to play a perfect game in order to have a chance to win. That's what it's going to take."
The Bruins know all about what it takes to stave off elimination in the Cup Final. Just two years ago, they were in the same situation. The scenario was different, as in 2011 the Bruins had to rally from 2-0 behind against the Vancouver Canucks and then keep their season alive in Game 6 at home. But here they are again with their backs against the wall and facing the Presidents' Trophy winner. The Cup will be in the building, and the Bruins know they can't be the ones dancing with it.
The Bruins didn't wait long to jump on Vancouver in that 2011 Game 6, as Brad Marchand scored 5:31 into the game. By the 9:45 mark of that game, the Bruins were ahead, 4-0, and well on their way to securing a trip back to Vancouver for Game 7.
Marchand, still looking for his first point against the Blackhawks, remembers the team's attitude once it hit the ice against the Canucks.
"Yeah, a desperate team is a tough team to play against," the speedy winger said. "And I think we wanted to make sure we forced a Game 7 last time. And that's our focus this time. We want to try to make it to Game 7 and have that opportunity to fight for the Cup. So to do that we have to make sure we lay everything on the line tomorrow. And we've got to be prepared to do that."
As Rask explained, the Bruins -- who have maintained mostly the same core of their team for several seasons -- have shown great character over the years, in the Cup Final and even in regular-season contests. As far as past playoffs, the Bruins have been on both sides of this situation a lot in the past six seasons. Under coach Claude Julien, the Bruins have forced Game 7 with a win in the sixth game four times and failed to close out a team in Game 6 and had to go back at it again in Game 7 four times. The Bruins have never been eliminated in less than seven games under Julien.
With such an experienced group, the coach isn't planning to channel former Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne in the run-up to Game 6.
"Well, surprisingly enough, you don't have to say much to this group," Julien said. "Like I said, we're an experienced group. We've been through a lot. Not just that, but we have a good group of guys that understand what's at stake, they understand what's happening and they know what they need to do. So I don't need to go in there and give this big speech and get these guys rattled up because they know what's at stake. And we've proven it in the past and now we have an opportunity to prove it again [Monday]."
Held to just one goal in Game 5, the Bruins definitely have to make a better commitment to pay the price to score goals. Even if center Patrice Bergeron, who left Game 5 with an injury and is day-to-day, doesn't play, the Bruins should have enough talent to score more. Marchand, Nathan Horton (no goals, two assists) and David Krejci (no goals, four assists) are among those that need to pick up the slack. Of course, Jaromir Jagr is still looking for his first goal of the entire postseason.
The Bruins also need to tighten up their defense. Krejci and Zdeno Chara were on the ice for all three goals against in Game 5, and Lucic and Horton were on for two Chicago scores. Coverage around the Bruins' net has been poor recently after it was one of Boston's strengths for most of the playoffs.
Overall, the Bruins need to take Rask's words about perfection to heart in order to get themselves into a winner-take-all battle for the Cup.
"I think it's plain and simple, obviously we need to play better," Horton said. "We need to create a little bit more and bury our chances when we get them and not give them too much. But I think the big picture is just win two games. You know, we concentrate on one at a time and like everyone says, we're at a home, it's obviously a must-win and we all know that the fourth game is the hardest to get and we're going to make it as hard as we can.
"We're not done yet, and like I said, there are only two more games. So we've got to win two games. That's what we're looking at."