Reporting Dan Roche
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (CBS/AP) — Home has been sweet in the Stanley Cup finals once again.
When the Bruins swept Games 3 and 4 in Boston after losing the first two in Vancouver, it marked the third straight season where the home teams won the first four games of the NHL championship series.
In 2009, the visitor lost the first six games before Pittsburgh broke through to win the decisive Game 7 at Detroit. Last year, the home team won the first five before Chicago took the tile in overtime in Game 6 at Philadelphia.
In the 20 years prior, home teams won the first four games just once — in 2003 between Anaheim and New Jersey — but the hosts are 15-2 the last three years, including a pair of late one-goal victories by the Canucks in Games 1 and 2.
Watch Dan Roche’s Video Blog from Vancouver
“I don’t think it’s necessarily bringing a home game, it’s just bringing our game,” Boston coach Claude Julien said after arriving back in Vancouver late Thursday, adding his team just wasn’t good enough in the first two games. “We need to play with a lot of emotion, intensity and play on our toes.”
It’s a level they discovered in Boston, and forward Brad Marchand said it came in part from a boisterous home atmosphere.
But for all the momentum they seized by winning those home games by a combined 12-1 score, it won’t mean much if they can’t win at least one game in Vancouver.
“We have a very tough road ahead,” Marchand said. “When you play in front of your crowd you seem to have more emotion and build off their energy, and it can intimidate their team.”
Home-ice advantage also means getting the last line change, and while Julien said matchups aren’t a concern, getting the ones he wanted was easier at home. That in turn helped Boston re-establish the hard-hitting forecheck it prides itself on.
“It’s part of what we want to do in this series and slow down a team that is extremely skilled,” Julien said. “They are a highly skilled team and we’re probably more of a physical team.”
Watch: Bruins talk after arriving back in Vancouver
The Canucks believe home ice may help avoid some of those hits because the ice should be better than it was in Boston, where soaring temperatures and humidity made for bouncing pucks.
“We’re a more skilled team and we want to be a puck possession team,” defenseman Andrew Alberts said. “I think there is better ice here and we can control the play more. … We’ve got to get back to the way we played the first two games. We had a good transition game, every time they dumped it in we were right back up to the forwards, got the puck up the ice. We moved it crisp and clean.”
(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)