Home ice has turned out to be a very big deal in the Stanley Cup finals. After a playoffs that saw the road teams get their licks in on the home standing favorites the finals have proved to be a case where everyone is holding serve in their own respective ways. Vancouver has done it with physicality, tight checking, and taking advantage of turnovers. Boston has done it with brutal physical play and lighting up Roberto Luongo and the Canucks defense.
Heading into tonight’s Game 6, it’d be easy to see how the Bruins could be teeming over with confidence. After all when you win games by scores of 8-1 and 4-0 at home, it might be easy to fall into a comfort zone bordering on cockiness. In speaking with Bruins players after today’s morning skate, nothing could be further from the truth.
“Games 3 and 4 don’t matter right now. Game 6 is Game 6,” says Bruins forward Shawn Thornton. “Tonight’s a new night. Just because we were good in Games 3 and 4 doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy tonight. It’s going to be the toughest game by far.”
While Thornton is the voice of reason in what should prove to be a mad atmosphere tonight, Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference went a bit deeper with his thoughts on how different tonight will be compared to how it was when the Bruins rolled Vancouver in back to back games last week.
“It sets the bar for what we have to do. I think that’s what it’s all about – playing to your potential as individuals and as a team,” Ference says.
“We’ve had different games throughout the playoffs in different series you pick out the games and you set the bar for what the coaches expect for you and what you expect to yourself and really all you’re trying to do throughout the whole playoffs is meet that bar. You don’t have to go out as an individual and do miraculous things you just have to play as good as you can. That’s all you can really ask.”
“Those games in our building we played well, we felt well and our confidence was there. It’s not automatic that it’s going to happen but it shows you what it takes to have success against this team,” Ference concludes.
Ference’s thoughtfulness on the matter comes from experience. He was a member of the 2004 Calgary Flames team that lost to Tampa Bay in the Stanley Cup finals in seven games. If there’s a guy in the room the Bruins should tilt their ears to more often than not, it’s him. He’s been here before and knows what it’s like. His Flames team that year dropped the final two games of that seven game series to the Lightning. That Calgary team also lost two of the three home games they had that year.
For Boston, they can’t afford to lose this last one or else they’ll be watching the Canucks skate around their ice with the Stanley Cup. That’s something Ference would rather not see.
“A loss is a loss and maybe people view it different ways but I don’t know… I’ve lost in different rounds of the playoffs and they all feel pretty crappy.”
The Bruins hope that that crappy feeling can be avoided, especially at home tonight.