Bruins: Capitals haven't seen our best yet


Bruins: Capitals haven't seen our best yet

BOSTON -- The Bruins and Washington Capitals have played what amounts to the closest, tightest series in NHL Stanley Cup history.

No two teams had ever started a series off with six straight games decided by one goal as the margin of difference in each contest, and its been dead-even with things tied at 3-3 headed into Wednesday nights Game 7 winner-take-all at TD Garden.

So what will the difference come to in the end?

One overriding factor in the Bruins favor: they havent played close to a perfect game in their series against the Washington Capitals while the No. 7 seed team has blocked shots with agonizing desire and played Dale Hunters defensive system to frustrating perfection.But the Bruins have suffered the odd defensive breakdown, they watched Tim Thomas sag during the third period of Game 5 in front of the TD Garden crowd and they received next-to-nothing offensively from their top forward line (Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Tyler Seguin) until midway through Game 6 in Washington DC.

I think weve seen spurts, but I dont know that weve put an entire 60-minute game together that wed like to see. The last game we had that four-minute power play. We didnt capitalize, and that really swung things in the direction of the Caps. Thats what we dont like to so were obviously looking to put together full 60. Were looking to lay it all on the line.

That means the Black and Gold, who became the first team in Stanley Cup playoff history to win three Game 7s en route to a Cup last season, still have another gear they can shift up to against an upstart bunch from Washington. Its the kind of effort that Boston put forward in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning in a 1-0 victory where neither team blinked until the Bolts made one critical defensive error late in the third period.

Were obviously always chasing after perfection or for as close to perfection as we can. Youre foolish to think youre ever going to get perfection. Even if you think to past years that might have only been mentioned in one gamemaybe in that Game 7 against Tampa, said Andrew Ference. I dont think that was even mentioned during any of the Vancouver games. Its a pretty high standard to say we need to play our best hockey when its happened only once in five years.

The one thing thats fair to ask is for every player in this room to play at or close to the level that theyve played at all season long. It would be great if everybody could play beyond that, but its not realistic and thats inviting trouble if guys start to try doing too much. We havent a game in this series where weve had all 20 guys playing at or close to the level that theyre normally capable of getting to, and if we can do that then well get a pretty good result.

Thats the same style two careful hockey coaches could adopt for Wednesday nights tilt with hockey lives on the line: the club that doesnt allow their opponent to capitalize on their mistakes, or doesnt make any mistakes, will be the one advancing toward the next round.

Its tough. Every game is kinda funny. There are games were bounces went it, there are games were teams made big defensive mistakes and there were ones where one guy had a monster game. They all take on their own personality, said Ference, who will be playing in his team-high 10thGame 7 of his career on Wednesday. But generally speaking its the team that can recover the fastest between shifts, keep their heart rates down and not overreact to situations be they positive or negative. Its like everything we talk about in the playoffs except its amplified higher for one game.

The Bruins have been battling through frustration and a surprising Washington Capitals while fighting to find the full scope of their game. They grasped it in the final few periods of Game 6 in Washington, and now its time to finally tap into their considerable Game 7 potential with everything waiting for them.

Backes set to star in Animal Planet special this weekend


Backes set to star in Animal Planet special this weekend

It’s only a coincidence that it will air the same week that the Boston Bruins went Hollywood with their annual three-game road trip through California, but David Backes and his wife Kelly are going to get some solid TV time this weekend. The animal-loving couple are going to be featured Saturday night in the all-new Animal Planet special "Stars to the Rescue," which highlights the Backes family’s excellent work to ensure every animal has a ‘furever’ home.

The lifelong animal lovers have adopted five rescue pets that all made the move from St. Louis to Boston this summer, and launched Athletes for Animals in 2013, a non-profit organization supporting professional athletes and animal advocacy efforts. The 32-year-old Backes chose a Boston animal shelter as his first setting to meet with the Boston media this summer after signing with the Bruins in free agency, and spoke glowingly about his inspiration for marrying two of his passions: helping animals and sports.

“The full story is that in college we wanted an animal or two, but it just wasn’t responsible because we were renting and the landlords didn’t approve," said Backes, the proud owner of four dogs (Maverick, Rosey, Marty and Bebe) and two cats (Sunny, Poly). "We just didn’t really have the time or resources to support them, so we volunteered at the local shelter for the three years I was in school.

“When my wife [Kelly] and I moved to St. Louis, we wanted to connect with the community, be a part and use our voice to influence social change to do our part making the world a little bit of a better place. So we said, ‘Why not connect with the animal welfare rescue community?’

“We absolutely love doing it: Walking dogs, scooping litter boxes and cleaning kennels. Let’s use our voice to kick this off and see what we can do, and it really just snowballed from that to then trying to tie other guys into it. It’s not limited to the animal stuff, but the animals that don’t have a voice, and the kids that don’t have a voice, really tug at our heart strings. We want to help them with this blessing of a great voice we’ve been given as professional athletes, and to really use that to give them some help.”

The “Stars to the Rescue” special premieres on Saturday night at 8 pm on Animal Planet where there will be a full segment on the Backes family, but here’s a clip where Backes talks about his well-publicized involvement with a number of stray dog rescues during his 2014 Olympic Hockey stint with Team USA in Sochi, Russia.

Backes isn’t the only Boston athlete featured during the Animal Planet special as it also chronicles the stories of other well-known athletes and celebrities and the dogs they can't live without: Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman, Baltimore Ravens’ Ronnie Stanley, Selma Blair, ESPN Correspondent Michelle Beadle, WNBA star Elena Delle Donne, former Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield and more. From training buddies to comforting companions, “Stars to the Rescue” shows first-hand how these celebrities first met their cute rescued canines and how their dogs have impacted and transformed their lives for the better.

What we learned in Bruins' 4-1 win over Kings: Back on track


What we learned in Bruins' 4-1 win over Kings: Back on track

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