For the Bruins, it all starts with their starts.
Boston has shut out Chicago once in this Stanley Cup Final and taken three games to overtime, but the Blackhawks too frequently have been the aggressor early, and that’s a major reason why they’ve knotted this series at 2-2 returning to the Windy City for Game 5 on Saturday night.
“I think, for the most part, we’ve done a good job at weathering their starts,” Bruins winger Brad Marchand told reporters on Thursday. “It’d be nice if, for once, we put the pressure on them to start the game and kind of turn things around.”
Boston stormed back in a thrilling, back-and-forth Game 4 on Wednesday night, but they were forced to do so from deficits of 1-0, 3-1, 4-2 and 5-4 before Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook gave the Blackhawks a 6-5 overtime win. The B’s got away with an even worse start in Game 2 in Chicago, which the Bruins won, 2-1, but only after goaltender Tuukka Rask kept the score 1-0 at the first intermission despite a 19-4 shot disadvantage.
On Wednesday, Rask admitted: “I wasn’t able to bail our guys out. Sometimes you do, sometimes you don’t.”
Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask makes 41 saves on 47 shots in Wednesday’s OT loss.
But there was some uneasiness from Chicago on fans on Thursday, because while Rask surrendered six goals, he made 41 saves on 47 Blackhawks shots; compared to Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford’s 28 saves on just 33 Bruins targets, most of which peppered his weak glove hand.
Boston’s strongest start, a 2-0 lead in Game 1, still led to a 4-3 triple-OT loss. So it doesn’t guarantee a win. But the concern in Chi-town is that the Bruins have zeroed on the Hawks’ Achilles’ heel, and that could help him early in Game 5.
“Well, 99 percent of the shots are going glove side,” Crawford acknowledged after Game 4. “I don’t know what you would say. I can’t start thinking about that. That’s when you get in trouble, when you start thinking everything is going to go glove. I’m just going to play the way I’ve been playing and stick with that.”
FROM SABRE TO STAR?
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Tx.) reported on Thursday that the Dallas Stars intend to hire ex-Buffalo Sabres boss Lindy Ruff as their next head coach. If the Stars hire Ruff, that would eliminate one of four reported finalists for the vacant Vancouver Canucks job, which narrows to ex-Rangers coach John Tortorella, L.A. Kings assistant John Stevens and former Columbus Blue Jackets head coach Scott Arniel.