Boston Bruins’ defenceman Zdeno Chara and Chicago Blackhawks’ winger Bryan Bickell (29) are separated by officials during Game 3 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup final Monday night in Boston. The Blackhawks feel they brought the towering Chara down to size in a Game 4 win Wednesday, although the Bruins would beg to differ. — Photo by The Associated Press
The Boston Bruins see the glass as half-full despite their 6-5 overtime loss to the Chicago in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final.
But they have plenty to ponder en route to Chicago for Game 5 Saturday even if the team mantra was clearly to look forward not back. The best-of-seven series has become a best-of-three.
The Bruins, who bottled up the Chicago attack in winning Games 2 and 3, had hoped to arrive in the Windy City holding a commanding 3-1 lead.
“You move on. It’s one loss. We’ve got two wins, we’ve got two losses,” Boston coach Claude Julien said Thursday after an optional skate following a video session at TD Garden. “It’s about preparing for the next game, and our mood is fine.
“Who wouldn’t be happy to be in the Stanley Cup finals? You’ve got to remember where we are and what’s at stake here, and certainly not hang your head over a loss.”
Julien saw lots of positives: his team scored five goals, came back twice from two-goal deficits and the power play was working.
But he admitted that the Bruins have to put in a better start and make better decisions throughout. Boston also allowed the speedy, skilful Hawks too much space and too many options, he added.
“They’re a good team,” he said of Chicago. “I’ve said that all along, and they’re going to get their chances. We’ve just got to minimize them.”
Instead the Bruins and Hawks went on a wild roller-coaster ride, with Hawks defenceman Brent Seabrook deciding the game on a slapshot through traffic in overtime.
Chicago’s reunited line of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Bryan Bickell buzzed all night. It combined for two goals and three assists and all three made a nuisance of themselves.
Toews refused to be budged from in front of the net all game and Bickell helped free his captain on Chicago’s second goal, slyly kicking out one of Zdeno Chara’s skates to topple the giant Bruins defenceman. By the time Chara had got back on his feet, Toews had tipped in Michal Rozsival’s point shot for the goal. To his credit, Chara did not complain although he gave the referee a quizzical look.
Asked about Chara’s play on the night, Julien didn’t mince words.
“I think he was OK. There’s no doubt they went after him and he was OK because our whole team was OK. I don’t think anybody on our team can stand up today and say I thought I had a great game, and that’s why we’re sitting here today tied 2-all.”
Chicago clearly felt that it had brought the six-foot-nine Chara down to size somewhat.
“Chara, he’s one of their key players,” Toews said after the game. “He’s a great player. We know his No. 1 advantage is his size, reach and strength.
“I think at the same time you can’t give him too much respect and want to compensate the way you play as a line considering the fact he’s out there against you guys. I mean, there’s certain ways you can expose him.
“We just try not to be intimidated by his size. You have to get to the net, find a way inside, not be, like I said, intimidated by that. We can outwork him, and we did that tonight.”
Apprised of those comments, Bruins forward Brad Marchand called his captain one of the best defencemen in the league and then refused to take the bait
“They’re welcome to say whatever they want,” he said of the Hawks. “We’re just worried about how we have to play. Z (Chara) steps up and plays his best. We can expect that.“
Julien was his normally affable self Thursday, although he took the time to remind his listeners that Bruins hockey was more than “being rough and tumble and not much else.”
Whatever it is, Boston didn’t showcase its brand in Game 4.
The Hawks even enjoyed success in the faceoff circle, normally the Bruins’ domain, narrowing the deficit in faceoff wins to 39-38 from the lopsided 40-16 of Game 3.
Chicago got bodies in front of Tuukka Rask. At the other end of the ice, the Hawks blocked more shots than the Bruins for the first time in the series.
“I think both sides were pretty poor on the D (defence) side of the puck,” said Boston forward Chris Kelly.
“It’s a game of mistakes,” he added. “And I think both sides made their fair share of mistakes.”
The Bruins were looking to leave the negatives behind them as they headed west.
“It would have bee a nice game to win, for sure,” added Marchand. “But at this point of the season, whether you win or lose, you’ve got to let the game go and focus on the next one. It comes too quick and the next one means too much.”