CHICAGO — When Andrew Shaw scored at 12:08 of triple overtime, lifting the Blackhawks to a 4-3 victory in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final Wednesday night, the scoresheet revealed the Bruins’ defensemen had accumulated an astounding amount of ice time.
“You know it’s going to be a lot [of minutes], playing almost two games,’’ Andrew Ference said Thursday as a select group of players met with the media at the team’s headquarters at the W Hotel. “It looks strange on paper, had a couple games like that where everything looks out of whack on the scoresheet.’’
Zdeno Chara, who entered the Cup Final having averaged a team-high 29:21 during the playoffs, skated 57 shifts in 45:05. But the Bruins’ captain might have been on the ice even more had he not been assessed a high-sticking minor in the second period.
Ference had 56 shifts in 45:19 and dished out a game-high 10 hits, but his night was marred when Johnny Oduya scored at 12:14 of the third period by rifling a shot off Ference’s left skate.
Then there was Dennis Seidenberg, Chara’s sidekick on the top defensive pairing, who was the team leader in ice with 48:36 in 57 shifts. It was, however, four seconds less than the 48:40 logged by Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith.
“I wasn’t too surprised just because I was a reason for them playing that much,’’ said Torey Krug, referring to his third-period turnover that led to Bolland’s strike at 8:00 and pulled the Blackhawks within 3-2. “I wasn’t surprised, but I understand that group we have on defense back there are all workhorses and they’re able to log minutes and eat up time on the ice and they do it well.
“I wasn’t surprised by how efficient they were,’’ Krug said. “I used to play 30 minutes a game back in college and I understand what that is all about. But to play 45 minutes or 50 minutes, that’s unbelievable. I think everybody understands and there’s no room for complaining at this stage.’’
Goaltender Tuukka Rask faced 63 shots on goal, making a career-high 59 saves (including 24 in overtime), but his defense insulated him with 40 blocked shots. Chicago, by comparison, only made 23 blocks.
But when Rask termed Krug’s miscue as “a terrible turnover’’ after the game, coach Claude Julien was quick to rise to the defense of his rookie blue liner.
“I don’t think he was blaming Krug,’’ Julien said. “He probably had the right to say the same thing. It wasn’t a good turnover. But [Krug] didn’t have that many options either with a tough line change and everything else.
“Mistakes are part of the game. Whether he made that turnover, he still scored four goals for us in the series [vs. the Rangers] where we need him to score. I think if you balance it out, there’s a lot more positives in Torey’s game than there is in that one mistake.’’
Krug was appreciative of Julien’s support.
“I do take full responsibility for it, because I’m a guy who likes to play with the puck and I’ve got to take care of the puck, first and foremost,’’ Krug said. “At the same time, to have a coach who supports you like that and understands the game the way he does is important for me. It helps me to be able to recover that much faster.’’
When the back end went unrewarded for its work in overtime, especially after the Blackhawks’ goal came off a deflection, Julien implored his team to rest and to turn the page. Now the Bruins will focus on Game 2 Saturday night at the United Center.
Asked if he had any concerns about the major minutes his defensemen logged in Game 1, Julien replied, “Nothing more than their team. They had their guys log the same kind of minutes, too.’’
“When you look at that, I think it evens out,’’ Julien said. “It’s just the way it is. These athletes are in great shape. Obviously not in the shape where you would expect them to be at their best if we had to play back-to-back games, a quick turnaround. The fact that we have two days in between, we should be able to recover.’’
Given the amount of effort the team expended overall, but as a defense in particular, Krug was asked what, if anything, the Bruins could hang their hat on headed into Game 2.
“Just sticking to what we do best, and that’s playing a sound defensive game,’’ Krug said. “We’re still very proud of that. We’re going to bounce back in a way that we should and, like I said over and over again, it’s just unfortunate we have to wait two days to do that because we’re itching to get back out there.’’
Michael Vega can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.