Commentary

Bruins have it all on the line

Sources of motivation are many, with elimination at top of the list

Updated: June 13, 2011, 2:44 PM ET
By Joe McDonald | ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins learned on Saturday, according to a league source, that their Stanley Cup opponents, the Vancouver Canucks, attempted after their Game 5 win Friday to sell the broadcast rights for their potential Stanley Cup celebration parade.

The NHL would not allow the Canucks to do so before the series was over.

In sports, motivation can take many forms, and this is just another situation the Bruins will feed off Monday night as they face elimination in Game 6 at TD Garden.

Win, and play for the Cup in Game 7 on Wednesday at Vancouver. Lose, and go home.

Parade planning has been used to prod a team before in these parts. In the days leading up the 2004 Super Bowl, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick met with his players and showed them the parade route the Philadelphia Eagles had planned.

The Patriots won the game, 24-21, and there was no parade in Philly.

Vancouver has given Boston plenty of reasons to be motivated in the Cup finals.

First, the Canucks' Alex Burrows chomped down on a finger of Bruins alternate captain Patrice Bergeron in Game 1. That started a string of on-ice taunting by both teams until the league finally stepped in and said penalties would be assessed if the behavior continued.

There's been trash-talking on and off the ice. Even the coaches have gotten into it.

After all, it is the Stanley Cup finals.

The biggest motivational factor for Boston has been the absence of winger Nathan Horton, who suffered a season-ending concussion on a late hit by the Canucks' Aaron Rome in Game 3 at the Garden. Rome was suspended four games.

Horton's injury was a huge spark for the Bruins, but all the other stuff, they say, is ignored.

Yeah, sure it is.

"As a team, we've made it a conscious effort to stay away from that stuff," forward Gregory Campbell said. "It's not something that we've let motivate us. We're playing for the Stanley Cup, and that should be motivation enough. Whatever is said, it's not very important at this moment in time.

"Obviously, in Horty's situation, you never want to see a guy get hurt. He's an important part of this team, and he's a good friend for all of us. That's a little different than the other situations. As far as the other things that don't pertain to hockey, that's not our focus right now."

Speaking of the Horton injury, Rome spoke for the first time about the incident after practice Sunday afternoon, saying that it was a "split-second decision" and that he had "no intent to hurt anybody."

[+] EnlargeClaude Julien
AP Photo/Julie JacobsonClaude Julien and Tim Thomas, who have both been involved in extracurricular activity in the Cup finals, have a more pressing focus now.

"If I could go back, obviously you don't want anybody to get hurt, but I don't think I'd change the decision," Rome said.

The timing of Rome's willingness to talk about the incident could serve as further motivation for the Bruins, just another reminder of the absence of their teammate and friend.

Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas has been involved in a war of words with Canucks netminder Roberto Luongo, who said the lone goal of Vancouver's win in Game 5 would have been "an easy save for me."

Thomas has responded to some of the verbal jabs Luongo has spit his way, and although Thomas says he isn't bothered by them, you can bet he's using it all as motivation.

"I can only speak for myself, and I haven't paid that much attention to it," Thomas said. "When I sit here and say that I truly am focused on what I have to do on the ice, I'm not just making that up. That's where I try to put 100 percent of my focus.

"You do have distractions, so sometimes you have to overcome them from the outside, but I think I've done a pretty good job of that so far, and that's what I continue to try to do going forward."

The main reason the Bruins are playing for the Cup is the play of Thomas, particularly in the playoffs. He'll need to be at his best in Game 6 if Boston's season is to continue for one more game.

The last thing the Bruins want is to see the Canucks celebrating and carrying the Stanley Cup around on Garden ice. That would be a horrible way to end a special season. Think about the image of Burrows and Max Lapierre hoisting the sacred chalice in Boston.

That would not go over well in this city. The Bruins know that.

"You don't want to see anybody raising the Cup on [your] home ice," Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said. "It doesn't matter who it is. We just have to focus on the moment and not worry about the future or the past. We have to play in the moment, do our thing, and we'll be fine."

Boston has enjoyed some dominating performances on home ice, and it will need one more to extend the 2010-11 season. If the Bruins can win Game 6, it really won't matter that the next game will be played at Rogers Arena because anything, and everything, could happen in Game 7.

"Our goal is to win [Monday] and bring this series to a Game 7," Seidenberg said. "Game 7 is a crap shoot; anything can happen. Our goal is to win [Monday] and make it really hard on them."

Joe McDonald covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com.

Joe McDonald

Reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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