Commentary

Bruins need home run to continue

Updated: June 11, 2011, 7:29 PM ET
By Joe McDonald | ESPNBoston.com

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The Stanley Cup will be under lock and key for Game 6 Monday at TD Garden.

But there's only team that can win it.

After the Vancouver Canucks dismissed the Boston Bruins, 1-0, in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals Friday night at Rogers Arena, the Canucks are one win away from hoisting the Cup, but it doesn't bode well for them that the series shifts back to Boston for Game 6.

[+] EnlargeBruins
Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty ImagesVancouver hasn't been a pleasant place for Bruins, be they stuffed animals or Boston hockey players.

The road team has yet to win a game in this series, which is a good sign for the Bruins. If Boston can stave off elimination and force a Game 7, anything can happen.

But for now, the Bruins need to focus on Game 6.

With Vancouver's victory in Game 5, home teams improved to 16-2 in the Stanley Cup finals since 2009.

That trend has remained strong in this series.

"I guess both teams are just really comfortable playing in front of their home crowd, feeding off the energy and playing well," Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said. "It looks like we're comfortable with the way we played [in Games 3 and 4]. Just as they did, we feed off the energy in our building and we have to do that again."

When asked if it was uncomfortable playing in this hostile environment, Seidenberg said it energizes him.

"Personally, I like it," he said. "I like getting booed. It's fun out there if you battle hard and the crowd is into it."

Oh, the crowds have been into it. Both buildings are on par as far as the crowd noise and fan support. The pregame presentations by both organizations have been phenomenal. The fans love it and the players feed off of it.

After all, there's nothing better in all of sports than the Stanley Cup finals.

For the third consecutive season, the home team has won the first five games of the Cup finals.

In 2009, the home team won the first six games before the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Detroit Red Wings in Game 7.

In 2010, the home team went 5-for-5 before the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Philadelphia Flyers in overtime of Game 6 at Philadelphia.

In the 20 years prior to 2009, the home team won the first five games just once, in 2003 between the New Jersey and Anaheim Ducks.

None of the Bruins had an answer for why the road team has not been able to win a game in the opponent's barn. Boston certainly had its chances in Games 1 and 2 at Rogers Arena, but the Canucks pulled out a pair of one-goal victories. Vancouver added to that streak Friday.

"I don't know why," Bruins assistant captain Patrice Bergeron said. "Right now we have to focus on Game 6 and go from there. That's the most important thing right now. We've just got to give ourselves a chance to get back here. Now it's all about Game 6."

After the first two games here, Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas talked about the importance of the team returning home. Boston rewarded its vocal fans with a pair of dominating performances, winning 8-1 and 4-0 in Games 3 and 4.

"Sometimes it works out that way," Thomas said. "It seems like so far this series, the home crowds have helped the teams. It's not always the case and going home for Game 6, we hope that's the case one more time. We need to win that game and then we'll worry about the away crowd after that."

The Bruins haven't lacked for goaltending. Whether at home or on the road, Thomas has been spectacular in the finals.

Vancouver netminder Roberto Luongo, who made 31 saves in Friday's shutout, continues his Jekyll and Hyde act.

On home ice this playoff season, Luongo is 10-3 with a .943 save percentage and a 1.70 goals-against average, including four shutouts. On the road, he's 5-5 with a .885 save percentage, 3.49 GAA and zero shutouts.

Thomas is 9-3 at home with a .945 save percentage, 1.76 GAA and two shutouts. Away from the Garden, he's 5-6 with a .928, 2.41 GAA and one shutout.

"It is what it is," Julien said. "The two teams that are here are good teams and they don't give home-ice advantage away that easily. So they've been good in their own building. We've been a decent road team for most of the season, and right now, what we have to do is go back home and create a Game 7, so we get another shot at them here."

For all the talk during the entire Stanley Cup playoffs about "must-win" situations for the Bruins, that's truly what they face now. One more loss and the season is kaput, their dream of bringing the Cup to Boston for the first time since 1972 will have slipped away.

"It's the biggest game of the year," captain Zdeno Chara said. "We have to approach it that way."

If the Bruins can force a Game 7 back in Vancouver, it really won't matter who has home-ice advantage. The game could be played in Bora Bora and it wouldn't make a difference because players on each team will completely block out the noise until the final buzzer sounds and the winner hoists the 35-pound chalice.

"Game 7 is a crap shoot," Seidenberg said. "Anything can happen. But in order to get there, we have to play a solid Game 6. We have to look forward to that and work really hard to get there."

The Stanley Cup will be at the Garden on Monday, and the Bruins are hoping it stays locked in its case.

Joe McDonald covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com.

Joe McDonald

Reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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