Canadiens-Bruins Preview

The Boston Bruins regained home-ice disadvantage in the NHL

playoffs.

That’s right, disadvantage.

The home team has lost all four games in the series with the

Montreal Canadiens, so the Bruins can’t rely on their seventh

player – the black-and-gold clad crowd – in Saturday night’s fifth

game with the best-of-seven Eastern Conference series tied at

2.

”We’ve just got to keep getting better and not worry about

where we’re playing,” coach Claude Julien said Friday, ”but how

we’re playing.”

The raucous fans at the Bell Centre couldn’t shake the Bruins

focus when they overcame deficits of 1-0, 3-1 and 4-3 to even the

series with a 5-4 overtime win on Thursday night. They sent those

partisans home disappointed, knowing the Canadiens wasted a chance

to take command of the series.

Back home, the Bruins want their fans to savor a win – even if

it’s not filled with end-to-end rushes and highlight-reel

goals.

”There is a tendency when you’re at home to try to put on a

show for the home crowd,” Boston goalie Tim Thomas said, ”but

sometimes that works against you over the course of a full 60

minutes.”

The key for the Bruins is to trust their game plan even if

they’re behind. That’s what they did Thursday night.

”Throughout the season, we’ve had some games where we’ve

learned that getting away from it doesn’t help,” Shawn Thornton

said. ”The discipline through all 20 guys, and the coaching staff

really emphasizing that you don’t need to go out and do something

all on your own, just stick with it, stick with it, and it ended up

paying off.”

No matter where you’re playing.

In the past two years in the playoffs, the home team was 52-35

in 2009 and 46-43 in 2010.

This year, the road team has the edge – 19-14 through Thursday

night.

”It seems both teams want the road advantage now,” Montreal

goalie Carey Price said with a smile. ”As a team, when you go into

an opposing rink it’s a lot easier to keep your game simple because

you don’t need to try and impress anybody or anything.”

Now that he’s home, it’s highly unlikely that Bruins defenseman

Andrew Ference will be making obscene gestures to the crowd. He

made an obscene gesture to fans on Thursday night after his goal to

cut the Canadiens lead to 3-2 midway through the second period.

It cost him $2,500, the fine assessed by the NHL on Friday, but

no suspension.

”I was pumping my fist,” Ference said Friday. ”I’m not giving

anybody the bird or anything like that. (It was) an unintentional

bird that I obviously apologized for. It wasn’t meant to insult

anybody, especially a whole row of cameras in the Bell Centre and

the fans sitting there.”

And so Boston erased a 3-1 deficit – ”We just believed,”

captain Zdeno Chara said – and now it’s a best-of-three series

between the third-seeded Bruins and sixth-seeded Canadiens.

”Every play, every mistake can be a difference,” Montreal’s

Mathieu Darche said.

After their 4-2 win on Monday night, the Bruins practiced in

Lake Placid, N.Y., rather than in enemy territory in Montreal.

”It did help to get out of Montreal and just relax and kind of

get out of the media maelstrom,” Thomas said.

It might not have helped on Thursday if the Canadiens hadn’t

turned the puck over so much in the neutral zone or made a poor

change of defensemen that gave the Bruins a 3-on-1 on Michael

Ryder’s winning goal at 1:59 of overtime.

”We’ve got to do a better job of picking up our coverages

around the net,” Montreal’s Brian Gionta said.

Despite the high score, both goalies made key saves to force

overtime.

Price stopped 30 of 35 shots and Thomas turned back 34 of

38.

”Winning in the playoffs in overtime, there’s no greater

feeling really,” said Thomas, who was named Friday as one of three

Vezina Trophy finalists, along with Roberto Luongo of Vancouver and

Pekka Rinne of Nashville.

But Thomas and Price have a more immediate concern, taking a

step toward the Stanley Cup.

”Obviously I’m not happy with (Thursday’s) result,” Price

said. ”Who would be? Five goals. But I felt good about my game. I

played the game probably four times in my head (Thursday) night. I

wouldn’t have changed a whole lot.”

Here’s one change that might help him – playing in a hostile

road arena.

After all, the Canadiens won the first two games of the series

with Bruins fans booing them.

”You like your chances at home, no matter what,” Gionta said,

even though the road team is unbeaten, ”but the way this series

has played out, that’s how it’s been and, hopefully, we can keep

that trend going.”