Published November 20, 2014
Milan Lucic won a physical battle for the puck behind the Vancouver net and threw it at the net. When David Krejci scooped up the puck after it kicked toward the corner, Lucic skated to the front of the net. Krejci sent it to the point for a blast from Johnny Boychuk, and Lucic spun off a defenseman to find the rebound and slam it past Roberto Luongo.
In a span of six or seven seconds, Lucic did exactly what the Bruins need more of if they are going to do better than two goals in two games against Luongo -- he won a battle, shot the puck, got in front of the goalie to create some traffic and found a rebound.
"I just think it is all a mindset," teammate Michael Ryder said. "You just have to get there and get in front and make sure you work hard to get in that area. It is all about work ethic and just getting it in your mind that you want to be there."
Added Lucic: "It's been the same since the first series. I mean, you look at where most of our goals are scored. It's in front of the net, getting in those dirty areas, getting those rebounds and fighting for pucks. Their defense does a really good job of battling with whoever's in front of the net. Our guys go to the net. For us, we got to get there, create a screen. Like I said, we got to find those loose pucks, work hard, bear down once we get those opportunities."
Those opportunities have been hard to find for the Bruins in the first two games of this series. Luongo has stopped 64 of 66 shots against Boston, but many of them have been from the perimeter and without much of a distraction in front of the Vancouver goaltender.
Lucic's rebound is one of only two times in the series where the Bruins have put a second chance on net within four seconds of the original shot. Luongo has a well-earned reputation as one of the most technically-sound goaltenders in the League, and he's not going to miss many shots that he has time to set up for and sees clearly.
Boston's second goal in Game 2 was also a direct product of having a better presence in front of Luongo. Mark Recchi was able to deflect what appeared to be a harmless point shot from Zdeno Chara for the team's sixth power-play goal of the postseason.
"I think you just have to fight through the traffic and the battle level has to be there," forward Chris Kelly said. "It is just that willingness to get into those dirty areas where a lot of the goals are scored."
Part of the problem for Boston could be the strength of the Vancouver defense corps. There may not be any Norris Trophy candidates on the Canucks' blue line, but they are deep and physical.
The Bruins have to be more willing to get to the front of the net, but they also have to navigate through the Vancouver defense.
"Give them credit -- they do a good job of boxing out and getting in front of you," Kelly said. "I think we have to a do a better job of getting to the net a little quicker and that might help things a little more."
Added forward Brad Marchand: "I think their D is a little bigger, older and more experienced. They seem like they really know how to play the game and they are really deep. They seem to have a lot of guys who fit the right roles and it is a tough group to play against."
Dealing with the Vancouver defense corps actually starts before it comes to jostle for position in front of the net. The Bruins have always been a team that relied on its size and ability to wear down opponents with an aggressive forecheck.
If the Bruins can do more work in that area, it can take a physical toll on the Canucks defensemen and maybe that will make it a little easier to maneuver in front of Luongo.
"I think we can certainly do it and we have to do it. It is playing more of our game," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "That's what I've been talking about the past couple of games. I don't think we've played to the level that we can, and I think that has to improve.
"I've been talking about better puck management, and that is also about putting pucks in the right place and creating that forecheck that we want to get. It is also about staying away from those turnovers and that is a big part of the game. If we can manage that, the parts of our game that we like will come back."