The temperature reached a high of 95 on Monday and the Bruins and Blackhawks were anticipating a somewhat sluggish ice surface for Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals. There was fog in the building during the teams’ morning skates.
“With some fans in the building tonight, it’ll get obviously warmer,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “I thought the ice this morning was in pretty good shape.”
The Blackhawks could win their second championship in four years with a victory on Monday.
In Game 3 in Boston, the ice was “pretty bad,” Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said after his team’s 2-0 win then. “If there’s a play to be made, you have to make sure it’s an easy one.”
Which teams handle the conditions better loomed as a factor in Game 6.
“Those are conditions that you have to play with at this time of year,” Julien said. “Everybody has been through it, and two teams are going through the same conditions. Both teams are going to tell you the same truth – keep the game simple and try and avoid those mistakes from overhandling pucks in those kind of ice conditions.”
COOL COREY: Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford isn’t listening to the critics.
Though he allowed five goals in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals, all to his glove side, his team still won 6-5 in overtime. He was much better in Game 5 when the Blackhawks won 3-1 to take a 3-2 series lead over the Bruins.
“I have a job to do,” Crawford said. “Whatever is being said doesn’t really affect what I’m going to do on the ice.”
He went into Game 6 on Monday night with a 1.83 goals-against average, tied with Boston’s Tuukka Rask for the best in the postseason. In the finals, Crawford and Rask each allowed 13 goals in the first five games.
Crawford played in one regular-season contest but no playoff games when the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2009-10.
“It’s exciting to have that opportunity,” he said, “but (you) can’t get too up, and you’ve got to prepare the same way.”
LET’S WIN TWO: The Boston Bruins had to win Game 6 – and 7 if there is one – to avoid losing the Stanley Cup finals. They accomplished that two years ago when they captured the championship against the Vancouver Canucks.
But history was on the side of the Chicago Blackhawks when they went into Game 6 on Monday night with a 3-2 series lead.
Teams with that advantage have won 28 of 36 series since 1939, when the best-of-seven format began. And 20 of those 28 teams won Game 6 while another eight took Game 7. Of the eight teams that overcame a 3-2 deficit, four have done it in the last 11 years. In 1971, Chicago blew a 3-2 advantage by losing the Stanley Cup finals to the Montreal Canadiens.
The Blackhawks beat the Philadelphia Flyers in six games in 2010.
“A lot of the guys have been through it,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “I think those guys’ experiences from Philly a few years back can help the rest of the group that haven’t been in this position before. (Marian) Hossa has had a couple opportunities to be in this spot, as well (before coming to Chicago in July 2009).
“I think it’s an exciting day. You want to make sure that you’re confident out there and play that way. You can’t get ahead of yourself going into this game.”
GOAL SCORERS’ STRUGGLES: First-line forwards David Krejci and Nathan Horton combined for 16 goals in the Bruins’ first 16 playoff games. But after that, in the first five games of the Stanley Cup finals against the Chicago Blackhawks, they couldn’t hit the net even once.
Blame it on more attention they’re getting from the tight-checking Blackhawks. Maybe an injury Horton suffered in Game 1 of the series affected him, as well. But their offensive drought has contributed to Chicago’s 3-2 lead going into Monday.
“I’m fine,” Horton said when asked about his physical condition. “I just haven’t had the opportunities. There’s not a lot of room, but we’ve got to make our own room.”
One good note for that line: left wing Milan Lucic led the Bruins in scoring through five games of the finals with three goals and two assists.
UNDERSTANDING THE SITUATION: Boston rookie defenseman Torey Krug sounded like a veteran when asked if his team had nothing to lose.
“That’s a weird phrase, ‘nothing to lose,’” he said. “We have everything to lose. You go down swinging. You throw everything on the table. You do whatever it takes to get the job done, and that’s the mentality we have.”
Krug spent the entire season in the minors before being called up for the first game of the second round against the New York Rangers. He scored four goals in his first five career NHL games – all coming in the five-game series against the Rangers.