Boston Bruins Can Draw Inspiration from the 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins

Al DanielCorrespondent IIJune 14, 2011

DETROIT - JUNE 12:  Philippe Boucher #43 and Ruslan Fedotenko #26 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrate after defeating the Detroit Red Wings by a score of 2-1 to win Game Seven and the 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Finals at Joe Louis Arena on June 12, 2009 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

When the Vancouver Canucks restored their lead in the Stanley Cup Finals with a 1-0 home victory in Game 5 last Friday, three phrases were needed to keep stoking the faith of Boston Bruins fans.

Those phrases: 2001 Colorado Avalanche (remember “Win it for Ray?” and “Mission 16W?”), 2004 Tampa Bay Lightning and 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins.

The cautious response, which one fan tendered this author: Those teams did rebound after losing Game 5 in the championship, but only the Penguins had to win the rubber game on the road.

Okay then. Looks like the Bruins can reap confidence from their fellow Black-and-Golders for Wednesday night’s decider at Rogers Arena.

Arguably, this is not even as tall an order for the Bruins as the trial the Penguins faced when they usurped the throne from the Detroit Red Wings. The Wings were an established semi-dynasty, having won their fourth title in 11 seasons the year prior at Pittsburgh’s expense. And unlike these Canucks, they had an easier time closing down an adversary (3-2 record before Game 7, as opposed to Vancouver’s 3-5 mark this year in the same situation).

The 2009 Red Wings entered their Game 7 with an 11-1 playoff record at Joe Louis Arena, including wins in all three Finals home tilts. Vancouver’s home transcript this spring is a comparable 11-2, but Rogers Arena has yet to become synonymous with championships the same way “The Joe” is.

On top of that, Pittsburgh entered its Game 7 on the heels of a 5-0 loss in its previous visit to Detroit. Translation: They authorized as many goals in a 60-minute span on enemy ice as the Bruins have at Rogers Arena in a combined 180 minutes and 11 seconds.

Unlike the Pens, though, the Bruins cannot afford to nurture a scoreless tie beyond the first period and bank on another Maxime Talbot slugging in two goals in the middle frame. Thrice in this series―Games 2, 4, and 5―it has been 0-0 after 20 minutes. Two of those occasions were in Vancouver, and both were Vancouver victories.

So far, the Bruins are scoreless in eight of nine full-length frames in the Canucks mansion. The only exception was the middle frame of Game 2, wherein they sculpted a momentary 2-1 lead.

The closest Boston can come to sealing a win before the final horn will be to break opposing goaltender Roberto Luongo’s goose-egg and inconsistent ego early. A one-goal lead will be encouraging and self-assuring enough, but a two-goal jumpstart would be most ideal.

After all, neither team has surmounted a multi-goal deficit in this series. The only lead changes were in the aforementioned Game 2, when a 1-0 Vancouver lead morphed into a 2-1 Boston edge, then a 3-2 Canucks triumph in sudden death.

In this playoff run, the Canucks have trailed by a single goal five separate times in four different wins, including two deficits in Game 1 of the Western Conference championship. But in seven other matches, they have conceded a two-goal advantage to the opposition and ultimately lost.

BOSTON, MA - JUNE 13:  Tim Thomas #30 of the Boston Bruins celebrates with David Krejci #46, Tomas Kaberle #12, Milan Lucic #17, Daniel Paille #20, Rich Peverley #49, Michael Ryder #73 and Andrew Ference #21 after defeating the Vancouver Canucks in Game S
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

At times, most recently in Game 6 on Monday, they have at least nudged closer. But they have never so much as scored two unanswered goals to muster an equalizer.

Yes, as recently as Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Bruins sculpted and spilled a three-goal edge on the road. But the latest three romps at TD Garden indicate they have learned since then.

Likewise, they ought to have learned from the three scrapes they sustained from three near misses in Vancouver.

Because the Penguins so recently accomplished the same unlikely feats the Bruins will try to pull off Wednesday―win Game 7 on the road, nab the only road victory in the series, win the Cup after trailing the Finals, 2-0―oddsmakers will likely hesitate to give Boston the upper hand.

That said, the Penguins―and the opposing Red Wings, for that matter―are oven-fresh proof it can be done. And the dynamics of this particular series make it easy to formulate a winning game plan for the Bruins.