Stanley Cup Final 2013: How Bruins Knocked Blackhawks Out of Comfort Zone

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Stanley Cup Final 2013: How Bruins Knocked Blackhawks Out of Comfort Zone
Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

CHICAGO—Claude Julien was not the only one in the Boston Bruins locker room who thought the team had played an unacceptable first period in Game 2 against the Chicago Blackhawks.

There was no lecture that needed to be delivered by the coach. Instead, the players looked at each other and spoke plainly about what had gone wrong in the first period, in which the Blackhawks had outshot the visitors 19-4.

“We all know it wasn’t our best period," said veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg. "We were man enough to tell each other what to do better.”

The Bruins were mainly spectators in the opening 20 minutes as the Blackhawks launched 30 shots towards Tuukka Rask, while the Bruins had managed to throw five shots in the direction of Corey Crawford.

The one problem the Bruins didn't have was on the scoreboard. They trailed 1-0, but the deficit could easily have been three goals or more. Rask, who has been superb throughout the postseason, was calm, cool and collected in the first period as he stopped 18 shots.

“It was a hard period to coach and watch,’’ said Julien. “We didn’t have our legs.’’

Rask, who had perhaps the best view of the action from his spot in front of the Bruins net, was in a shooting gallery. "It looked like they were playing with one more player than we had on the ice," Rask said. "We played a bad period."

A renewed skating effort was made in the second period, but that was just the start of it. Julien, who often refuses to make in-game adjustments and line changes, made a decisive move.

He put speedy Daniel Paille and explosive Tyler Seguin with struggling center Chris Kelly. If Julien was expecting the line to provide a spark that would turn the game around, that might have been too much to expect because Kelly had not scored a single postseason point and Seguin had just one goal.

But that's just what happened.

The Bruins' skating picked up fairly quickly in the second period. They started to win a few races, they broke up many of the Blackhawks' offensive zone passes, and they battled hard in the neutral zone.

It didn't pay off until the 14:58 mark. Paille won a battle behind the net, and he sensed an opening when Chicago defenseman Nick Leddy gave him space to make a move. Paille cut inside Leddy and fired a hard shot that Crawford stopped.

But the rebound was directed at Kelly, the hard-luck Bruin who brought a minus-nine rating into the game thanks to his 0-0-0 postseason scoring line. Despite his difficulties, Kelly had not stopped working, and Julien had not lost faith in him. He swatted at the puck and got good wood on it, and the Bruins had tied the score.

The Blackhawks' advantage had disappeared with one quick strike by the Bruins' most unlikely scorer.

The Bruins had picked up their skating and were back in the game. But they were also putting their imprint on Game 2 with an aggressive physical commitment. They were hitting the Blackhawks hard on every occasion, and the Blackhawks' skating in the second, third and overtime periods bore no resemblance to their skating in the first period.

Milan Lucic was the primary marauder, recording 10 of the Bruins' 50 credited hits. Many of them were powerful shots that put at least a hint of hesitation in the home team.

While there was no scoring in the third period, the balance that was tilted so heavily in Chicago's favor early in the game tipped towards the Bruins. They had the better of play in the third period—outshooting their hosts 8-5—and they controlled play in overtime.

Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

That had been the case in Game 1, but that game ended in Chicago's favor on Andrew Shaw's double-deflection in the third overtime period. This time, the Bruins ended things more reasonably in the first overtime as Seguin, the Bruins' most effective skater throughout the game, made a tape-to-tape pass to Paille, who released the puck almost immediately.

The puck flew towards the far post and clanged off the iron, but instead of bounding back into play as Jaromir Jagr's overtime shot had done earlier in the session, it angled to the back of the net, and the Bruins had their win and tied the series.

“Big win for us,” Lucic told Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe. “It obviously wasn’t the start we were looking for. But we were able to battle back. That line put together with Paille, Kelly, and Seguin, they stepped up huge and got us the win here tonight.”

The Bruins looked like they might get embarrassed in the first period, but they withstood the assault and found their game.

They skated, hit and shot accurately. If they can find a way to start doing that at the start of the first period in Game 3 in Boston, they have a chance to take their first lead in the series Monday night.

 

Steve Silverman is a credentialed reporter covering the Stanley Cup Final in Chicago for Bleacher Report. Quotes in this story were obtained first-hand unless otherwise indicated.

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