By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — If the Boston Bruins want to win in Game 7 against the Maple Leafs, then everybody in the organization is going to have to be at his best come Tuesday night. That includes the players and the coaches, but also the crew in charge of maintaining the playing surface.
That’s at least the message that Bruins winger Brad Marchand wanted to send when he spoke to reporters after an emotional Game 6 victory in Toronto to keep the season alive and force the Game 7. Marchand, who scored the first and last goal for the Bruins on Sunday afternoon, let it be known very clearly that he has not enjoyed the condition of the ice during the Bruins’ three home games during this first-round playoff series.
“[The Maple Leafs are] gonna come hard,” Marchand said. “They’ve played really well in our building so far this series. Ice has been terrible there. So we might as well play with a tennis ball and we’ll just skate around and see who bounces one in the net.”
That’s a pretty clear and direct message sent to the TD Garden crew that the ice has not lived up to Marchand’s expectations, and he’s clearly hoping for an improvement on Tuesday.
It’s not entirely uncommon for players to complain about ice conditions in the playoffs, but generally that happens either in southern cities or in the north when the weather heats up in May and June … and generally it involves visiting teams complaining about buildings where they’re not quite accustomed to a particular ice condition. (See: Vancouver Canucks, Boston, 2011, Stanley Cup Final.) Yet with some warm, humid weather in Boston lately, and with the Celtics putting forth a playoff push of their own, it’s possible that the Garden ice has not met Marchand’s standards thus far in the playoffs.
And though the sample sizes are certainly small, the results have been better thus far on the road for both the Bruins as a whole and for Marchand individually. The Bruins are 1-2 on home ice, getting outscored 7-6 in the three games. In Toronto, the Bruins have gone 2-1, outscoring the Leafs 12-9. Marchand has one goal and two assists for three points in the three home games, and he has three goals and three assists for six points in the three road games.
On the power play, where crisp passing is essential, the Bruins have also found much more success on the road this series. Boston has successfully scored on five of seven opportunities (71.4 percent) in Toronto, compared to just two of nine opportunities (22.2 percent) on home ice.
The weather forecast does call for some humid but cool conditions over the next 48 hours, and with the Celtics not in action, the crew in charge of maintaining the ice surface at the Garden has the opportunity to improve it in time for the biggest game of the year.