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Pregame Notebook: Game 3 vs. Vancouver

by Hannah Becker / Boston Bruins
BOSTON – It’s not an impossible situation, but it’s not exactly where the Bruins wanted to be.

Boston finds themselves down 2-0 in a seven game series for the second time this postseason. The first time, in the opening round series against Montreal, the Bruins were able to battle back and win the series in seven games.

The Black & Gold hope to be able to pull off the same feat in the Stanley Cup Final.

While they find themselves in a little bit of a different scenario than Round 1, (the B’s lost the first two games at home in that round), they’ll look to learn from that experience and use their lessons on the ice tonight.

They’ll have to begin by taking home a win in tonight’s Game 3.  Boston is back in their home city and they will have to feed off their home crowd to get the energy back in their legs.

When the puck drops on tonight’s game, it’s sure to bring some of the best hockey of the season.

Bruins look to stay fresh
Finding themselves all the way in the Stanley Cup Final, the Boston Bruins have entered unmarked territory. They’ve played a lot of hockey.

Vancouver Canucks' Roberto Luongo, right, stops Boston Bruins Zdeno Chara as Canucks' Dan Hamhuis, left, looks on during the first period of game one of NHL Stanley Cup final hockey action in Vancouver, British Columbia, Wednesday, June 1, 2011. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Bruce Bennett,Pool)
Not only are many of the Bruins the deepest they’ve ever been into an NHL season, this series has also included cross-continent travel. Six-hour flights, overtime games and the increased intensity of the games have all worn on the Bruins.

But in the end, they are professional athletes, and they know how to feed their bodies and get the proper rest.

“Obviously you don’t need much motivation to get up to play because it’s the Stanley Cup Finals. And I think nutrition and getting your rest when you need it definitely plays a big role in this,” Bruins forward Milan Lucic said.

Proper nutrition and rest is something professional coaching staffs make a point to teach their athletes.  While it’s important all season, once you find yourselves 100-plus games into a season it becomes even more so.

Bruins big-man Zdeno Chara spends the most time on the ice out of all the B’s, and conditioning for the 6-foot-9, 255-pound defensemen becomes even more important.

“To me he's handled it all year.  Where we are right now, we have to look at it this way:  he's got all summer long to rest.  Now is not the time to start giving him a rest,” B’s head coach Claude Julien said of Chara’s conditioning.

“We're in a fight here for a Stanley Cup.  He's capable of taking it. We feel he is.  If he wasn't, we wouldn't be giving it to him. “

Staying fresh on the ice will be important for all the B’s. The series has already featured a quick-speed, end-to-end pace to the games. That will surely only be intensified as the Bruins try to climb there way out of the hole they have dug.

Forward Patrice Bergeron, who is well known for his napping abilities, is focused on staying fresh throughout the rest of the series.

“I mean, obviously we're not used to it, but at the same time we can't let that affect us.  That's the schedule.  That's the way it is. We can't control it.  So we got to make the most of it,” Bergeron said.  “Obviously tonight's going to be a big night for us to make sure we have some good rest. 

“But that being said, it's not an excuse.”

Tim Thomas staying mentally strong
No one will argue that Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas has been having an outstanding season, as his Vezina trophy nomination has shown, but two early round loses isn’t the performance Thomas was looking to give in his first Stanley Cup Final.

However, Thomas only gave up one goal in Game 1, three in Game 2 and made some spectacular ‘keep the team in the game’ kind of saves along the way.

For Thomas, the positive is the aspect he is looking to focus on.

“You have to put it behind you, obviously.  I think actually I've already done that.  I've already started to prepare for tomorrow,” Thomas said.

“I just have to, not just me, but the whole team has to put it behind them, show up ready to play the best they're capable of tomorrow.”

Being down 2-0 isn’t something the Bruins, or Thomas, haven’t seen before. But for a goaltender, the situation is seen through different eyes.

“It does give you some consolation to know that you've done it before. But, you know, having said that, tomorrow it will be time to stop talking about it, it will be time to start doing it,” Thomas said.

“Tomorrow is a big game for us. We have to come up on top to get back into this series one game at a time.”

The biggest force Thomas has had to face in this series, and possibly throughout the entire season, is Vancouver’s top line.

The trio is made up of twin superstars Daniel and Henrik Sedin alongside Alexandre Burrows. 

While Thomas kept the threesome off the score sheet in game one, and the B’s defense limited Henrik Sedin to zero shots on goal, the top line combined for all three of Vancouver’s goals in Game 2.

Burrows’ two goals book-ended a snipe from Daniel Sedin to give the Canucks the 3-2 win 11 seconds into overtime.

“I've approached them just trying to play them both honestly, be ready for both pass and shot at all times,” said Thomas of facing the Sedins.

“At this point, you know, I don't think you should rely too much on tendencies because then if they don't do what you're expecting, you're in trouble. I think you just have to react and play the game.”

Vancouver looking to overcome TD Garden's energy
Although having home ice is a benefit of being the Presidents' Trophy winners, and Vancouver made the most of it by winning the first two at home, there comes a time when every team must travel to enemy territory.

Vancouver Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault smiles at a reporter's question during a news conference in Boston Sunday, June 5, 2011. The Bruins and Vancouver Canucks play Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
For the Canucks that time is now. After picking up 1-0, and 3-2 wins in Games 1 and 2 in Rogers Arena respectively, Vancouver has now flown cross-continent and landed in Boston where they will take on the B’s in Game 3 tonight.

The Bruins sold out the entire regular season and postseason thus far, and another crowd of 17,565 is expected tonight in the TD Garden.  Considering it’s Boston’s first finals appearance in over a decade and the city has been raging with Bruins fever over the past week, Vancouver will have a hurdle to climb before the puck even drops.

Despite their 2-0 deficit, the Bruins expect the Garden to be rocking and are looking to feed off the crowd's energy early in the game. That emotional uplift provided by the crowd is something the Canucks are going to have to overcome.

“I expect this crowd to be behind their team.  I mean, this is an 'Original Six' city, passionate for their hockey.  I'm sure their fans are going to be real supportive, just like our fans are in Vancouver,” Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault said.

“You have great cities, two beautiful places really where you have two hockey teams that are competing real hard on the ice.”

The Bruins will not only be feeding off the energy from their crowd, but also the desperation that is sure to be felt throughout the Garden. The B’s are down 2-0, after falling short in two close match-ups and a win in Game 3 will be key in turning the series around. A win in at least one of their two home games will be necessary.

The Canucks, however, are focused more on what they need to do to win rather than what they expect Boston to come out with.

“I think you're going to have two desperate hockey teams. Obviously from  [Saturday] night’s game, there were some areas that we feel we can definitely improve and do better, especially in that second period where we seem to lose momentum,” said Vigneault.

“We’re going to focus on our game, our game plan, make every shift
count, and be ready for tomorrow night.”

Staying in tuned with their game plan and focused on their own play with be a key component to Vancouver’s game. How well the Canucks can tune out the crowd will likely dictate how well they perform on the ice in the opening moments of the game.

“ I think the players have to be focused on the task at hand. If you are focused on the task and what you need to do to perform well, then your emotions are the right ones, your intensity is the right intensity so you can go out there and execute,” Vigneault said.

“We’ve been very good at that throughout the year, throughout these playoffs.  I expect us to be the same way tomorrow.”
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