As the Stanley Cup Final shifts from Boston to St. Louis for Game 3 (Saturday, 8 PM ET, NBC, CBC, TVA) with the series tied at 1-1, the Boston Bruins will face adversity once again. Their defensive depth will be tested with Matt Grzelcyk out of the lineup and as they did at Columbus and Toronto, they will once again be playing in a hostile environment trying to win back the home advantage. The Bruins rose to the occasion against the Blue Jackets and Maple Leafs and now they must draw on those experiences to weather a storm that has been brewing for 52 years now with the Blues three wins away from their first Stanley Cup ever.
Thankfully for the Bruins, they have been road warriors during the playoffs, entering Game 3 at 6-2. The B’s have had some of their best performances on the road, and don’t seem phased playing in the belly of the beast.
“We went into a hostile environment in Carolina; very loud building won a couple of there,” Bruce Cassidy said after the Bruins’ Game 2 loss. “Columbus, won a couple there, Toronto. We got a veteran group, they’ll bounce back, they’ll be ready to go.”
5 Keys to Boston Game 3 Victory
Strong Start – The Bruins need to play the perfect road game again and they need to have a strong first period to do so. A key to that will be simplifying their game and staying within their gameplan.
“Taking care of little details,” Brad Marchand said after the Bruins Game 2 loss. “I think that’s the biggest thing.”
Limit Turnovers – Not to pick on Marchand, but he had four turnovers in Game 2, as Boston Hockey Now’s Jimmy Murphy talked about on TSN 1290 in Winnipeg Thursday afternoon. Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo had several turnovers as well, most notably on the Carl Gunnarsson game-winning goal in overtime. Center Patrice Bergeron – who had four turnovers of his own in Game 1 – told the media on Thursday the Bruins need to limit their mistakes:
“A lot of unforced errors last night. I think we have to play a little bit more our way, our style,” Bergeron said.
The Bruins just need to be smart with the puck and if there is not a play to make a pass, just get the puck deep.
Good Breakout And Puck Support – With the Blues having the most aggressive forecheck the Bruins have faced in the playoffs, they need to find a way to break out of the defensive zone better.
“Usually we get out of our zone clean, if you are able to make that pass because the center can put the puck either way,” Cassidy said.
“It’s hard to pinch it in the middle of the ice; usually pinch on the boards. That’s what we ask, of our forwards, to win that battle on the walls, support that first touch. If we’re able to do that, we’ve been pretty good.”
Perfection Line Must Show Up – The top line of Marchand, Bergeron and David Pastrnak are a combined -7 through two games as their only point came on Marchand’s empty netter in Game 1.
“Yeah, we need to be better, Marchand said after Game 2. “Personally, I wasn’t good the last two games so we can’t be playing like that.”
“I suspect in Game 3 we’ll see their best game of the series,” he told the media on Thursday. “That’s speculation, but I suspect that’s what will happen.”
Bergeron believes the key will be learning from their mistakes in the first two games of the series.
“I think when a game like that happens, you look at what you can improve, get better, and go back to what you know is successful for your team and you individually,” he said
Power Play Execution – While the Bruins still have the best power play percentage in the playoffs at 31.7%, the execution has to be better in Game 3. Cassidy was asked about the difference between the power play in Game 1 and Game 2 and how even though they went 1-for-5 in both games, the power-play still seemed more effective in Game 2 because it tired the Blues out.
“I don’t think we executed as well, force them to defend in their zone,” the Bruins bench boss said.
Zone entry will be a key to hemming the Blues down on the man advantage. The B’s need to enter the zone clean and with speed so that the Blues are playing on their heels and scrambling to keep up.