Hockey Night In Canada Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011

Bruins must deal with faster ice, last change

Categories: Boston Bruins, VAN vs. BOS, Vancouver Canucks

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Zdeno Chara, left, sends Ryan Kesler of Vancouver backwards with a hit earlier in the series at Rogers Arena. (Rich Lam/Getty Images) Zdeno Chara, left, sends Ryan Kesler of Vancouver backwards with a hit earlier in the series at Rogers Arena. (Rich Lam/Getty Images)

The task will be harder for Boston Friday at Rogers Arena, where Alain Vigneault will have the last change.

But a major part of Boston's success in Games 3 and 4 was its smothering of Vancouver's best players - primarily Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, and Ryan Kesler.

All three went scoreless in the two games in Boston. Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, Claude Julien's ace shutdown pairing, gave the twins neither time nor space. The Sedins had two shots apiece in Game 4.

Kesler was just as invisible. The No. 2 centre landed three shots on Tim Thomas on Wednesday. The best scoring chances from the second line came off the sticks of Chris Higgins and Mason Raymond.

"They've got to try and get on the inside a little bit more," Vigneault said. "That whole line has great speed. When they get the puck on the fly, they can take it to the net. You've got to take it to the net, stay in front, and compete for that net-front presence."

Kesler isn't skating with his usual pop, no doubt related to the undisclosed injury he suffered in Game 5 against San Jose in the Western Conference final.

"You play a lot of teams that have those kinds of players in our conference - the [Sidney] Crosbys and the [Evgeni] Malkins," Julien said. "Of course Detroit with [Henrik] Zetterberg and [Pavel] Datsyuk. You have to be able to play against those guys in a way where you certainly have to have your whole group doing the job. I don't think you really rely on one guy. I know Zdeno and Seidenberg have been credited with a lot of that stuff. Deservedly so. We have to rely on other guys to come back and do the job as well. It's about being focused on who's out there. When they're out there, be aware of it."

Competition committee to huddle in Boston

The NHL competition committee was originally scheduled to meet in New York on Monday to consider the adjustment to Rule 48. However, because Game 6 will take place at TD Garden Monday night, the committee will meet in Boston earlier in the day.

The committee is expected to approve the general managers' recommendation to broaden Rule 48. Language is expected to be tweaked to protect vulnerable/unsuspecting players from head shots. Once approved, the NHL board of governors will vote on the rule tweak on June 21 in New York.

The Bruins have been at the heart of such discussions for two straight seasons. Last year, the GM meetings took place soon after Matt Cooke flattened Marc Savard with a blindside hit. Cooke was neither penalized nor suspended for the hit. Later that month, the GMs recommended fast-tracking the implementation of Rule 48 to penalize players for blindside hits that targeted the head as the principal point of contact.

When the GMs met at Boston's Langham Hotel prior to Game 4, the Nathan Horton hit was part of their discussions. The NHL ruled that Aaron Rome's hit did not fall under Rule 48. Mike Murphy, senior vice president of hockey operations, suspended Rome for four games because of the lateness of the hit and the severity of Horton's injury.

The Horton hit would be categorized under an expanded Rule 48. Horton was considered a vulnerable and unsuspecting player. Horton had his head turned and didn't see Rome approaching.

Better ice expected tonight

The Garden ice wasn't good at the start of Game 4 because of the heat that day. The ice deteriorated throughout the game.

"Terrible," said one Bruin of the sheet's condition.

It's cooler in Vancouver today, which should lead to better ice. In theory, that would favor Vancouver's up-tempo, puck-possession approach.

"The more we have the puck, the better off we are," said Andrew Alberts. "With the fresh ice - I think there's better ice here - we can control the play more. Boston's a hot building. Bad ice all game. But it's no excuse. Hopefully things are better [tonight]."

The Canucks will also have their crowd behind them. The Bruins credited their fans for giving them energy and emotion they needed to execute their plan of attack in Games 3 and 4. The Bruins will look to be the first team to score a road win in the series tonight.

"It's simple mathematics," Shawn Thornton said. "If we're going to have success, we're going to have to win one in this building. I would prefer if it's [tonight]."

No skate for Bruins

The Bruins didn't hold a morning skate today. They have opted not to skate before every game at Rogers Arena.

The Canucks had a full skate.

Expected Bruins lineup:

Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Rich Peverley
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Mark Recchi
Tyler Seguin-Chris Kelly-Michael Ryder
Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton

Zdeno Chara-Dennis Seidenberg
Andrew Ference-Johnny Boychuk
Tomas Kaberle-Adam McQuaid

Tim Thomas
Tuukka Rask