BOSTON — After Aaron Rome's hit knocked Nathan Horton out the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, the Boston Bruins skated to home-ice victories in Games 3 and 4 with a ferocious, aggressive physicality that knocked the poise out of the Vancouver Canucks.
That aggression was nowhere to be found in Vancouver for Game 5, as the Canucks dominated physical play and the Bruins couldn't match it in the 1-0 loss.
"I wish I had the answer. I really do. If I had the answer I'd be making a lot more money that I'm making," said winger Shawn Thornton. "There's no excuse for the way we played. Everyone had to be better. I'm still pissed about it, and I hope everyone else is too."
Game 6 is back in Boston on Monday night with the Canucks having a chance to skate the Cup and the Bruins with a chance to extend the series to Game 7.
To do so, they'll have to locate their cojones again after losing track of them in Game 5.
"Being at home, we're going to be just as physical as Games 3 and 4. Hopefully ..." said Johnny Boychuk. "It seems like the feeling in the dressing room."
Thornton said that the Bruins got away from the style of play that characterized their wins in Games 3 and 4.
"The physicality? We took it away from ourselves by playing too East/West than North/South [in Game 5]. That had something to do with us finishing hits. We didn't put pucks in areas where we could finish hits," he said.
"We didn't have enough guys going, and that can't happen in the playoffs."
Boychuk said the Bruins "shied away from" hits and couldn't take advantage of the Canucks playing that aggressively.
"I think they wanted to hit everything that one game, and we could have capitalized on them being out of position and we didn't," said Boychuk.
But there's another dynamic at play in Game 6, which is that the emotions of seeing Horton carted off, and the four-game suspension to Rome that followed, may not carry over. That moment added a defiant streak to a team that was already defiant, down 0-2.
Milan Lucic talked about not having one of the Bruins' playoff heroes available to play in an elimination game.
So as the Bruins try to reclaim that aggression for Game 6, might the potential for a Canucks' Cup skate in the Garden be motivation enough?
"It's not about not letting somebody skate on your ice. That's not in the equation," said defenseman Andrew Ference. "The equation is 'how are we going to win it?'"