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Choice words turn Bruins around
The Boston Bruins never make it easy on themselves early in the Stanley Cup Final.
Two years ago, Boston dropped Games 1 and 2 en route to defeating the Vancouver Canucks in seven games to win the Cup. It looked like they’d have to take the same path, at least after the first 20 minutes of play in Game 2 on Saturday night before a dramatic turnaround punctuated by a 2-1 overtime victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. The win evened the series at one game apiece.
An appreciative TD Garden will welcome the Bruins as the series shifts to Boston on Monday night. There’s one place, however, where the Bruins would like to have it quieter than what they experienced in Game 2 at Chicago’s United Center.
Their locker room between periods.
The Bruins had just been horribly outplayed (and outshot 19-4) in the first stanza. Words were exchanged by several players, with center Chris Kelly being among the more pronounced.
“It was really a mix of everybody saying something,” Bruins forward Tyler Seguin told reporters on Sunday. “Obviously I think Kells was one of the most vocal guys at the time. But in the end, I think it was a mix of everyone.”
Some players downplayed how loud it actually got in that locker room.
“We were telling each other we have to do better,” Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said after Game 2. “It wasn’t really yelling. Nobody likes to hear that, but it needs to be said once in awhile.”
Bruins coach Claude Julien followed.
“Claude came in a little bit later, but I think we were all equally upset about that first period,” said Bruins forward Daniel Paille, who scored the decisive goal in overtime of Game 2 to tie the series at 1-1. “Definitely, Claude let us know and it was a way for us to wake up. And, also, players were keeping each other accountable, too, so it was good.”
Julien declined to detail what his chat was about.
“That stuff I'm going to keep internally,” he said. “It's part of the process. I mean, the players make themselves accountable, I make the players accountable. That's kind of where I'm leaving it.”
You can blame a wily move by Seguin, who was mic’d up at the time, for keeping the exact content of what was said out of the public domain, at least for now.
“I definitely knew it was coming, so I definitely threw my shoulder pads in the training room and put a towel over it so no one could hear what we were saying,” Seguin said. “I think we needed that team wake-up call.”
The Bruins denied any hangover from the triple-overtime loss in Game 1 caused Saturday’s slow start — slow for everybody but goalie Tuukka Rask. Rask allowed the Bruins to enter that terse intermission down just 1-0.
“I don’t think there’s an explanation,” Seidenberg said. “It’s just not being mentally ready. I wish we had (an explanation) so we won’t do it next game.”
It wasn’t as dramatic, but the Hawks had some words exchanged in the first intermission as well, when they came away with only Patrick Sharp’s tally through arguably their most dominant period of hockey this postseason.
“Everybody speaks up,” Blackhawks forward Dave Bolland said. “I think we tried to encourage each other. It’s about staying calm and getting back to the ice.”
The mix of players in the Chicago lineup will change slightly for Game 3. Forward Viktor Stalberg, a healthy scratch the first two games of the series, will replace Brandon Bollig, whose turnover along the boards led to the game-winning goal on Saturday.
“You have to find a way to contribute something,” said Stalberg, who skated at the pre-game skate Monday with his expected fourth-line partners, Marcus Kruger and Michael Frolik. “We are going to do everything we can in the limited time we have (on the ice).”
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said before Monday's game the change was made because “we need some speed from him (and to) bring some energy.”
The salary cap era has created some evenly matched-up finals. This, for instance, is the second consecutive Stanley Cup Final where the first two games were decided in overtime, something that had never happened in the prior 61 years.
With these teams so evenly matched, it’s personnel — not words — that will make the difference, even if it’s hard to argue with the result after the Bruins’ meeting of the minds.