|05.28.11 at 4:57 pm ET|
The start of the Stanley Cup finals is still four days away, but it’s never too early to start studying up on the Bruins’ opponent. The Canucks finished the regular season with the best record in the NHL (54-19-9), the best offense (3.15 goals per game), the best defense (2.20 goals against per game) and the best power play (24.4 percent).
They nearly blew a 3-0 series lead to the Blackhawks in the first round of the playoffs, but they bounced back to win Game 7 in overtime to avoid suffering the same disastrous fate that befell the Bruins last year. From there, the Canucks won a tight-checking series against the Predators in six games, only one of which was decided by more than a goal.
They then punched their ticket to the Stanley Cup finals by knocking off the Sharks in five games. The Canucks were badly outshot in each of the last two games — 35-13 in Game 4 and 56-34 in Game 5 — but they managed to come away with a pair of wins thanks to some great goaltending, an opportunistic offense and a lucky bounce in double overtime of the final game.
Here are five more things you should know about the Canucks, along with what the Bruins can do to counter them. Read the rest of this entry »
|05.28.11 at 4:11 pm ET|
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli addressed the media Saturday at TD Garden, reflecting on his team’s Eastern Conference finals victory and discussing the upcoming Stanley Cup finals vs. the Canucks.
On the subject of Nathan Horton, who scored the game-winning goal in the team’s 1-0 Game 7 victory, Chiarelli noted that Horton was disciplined by the league for squirting Tampa fans and then throwing a water bottle into the crowd following Game 6.
“You know that’s an unfortunate incident. I didn’t really focus on it and I didn’t talk to Nathan about it,” Chiarelli said. “He has been fined, so that issue has been resolved.”
While Chiarelli did not reveal how much Horton had to fork over, a source told WEEI.com Saturday that the fine was for $2500, which is the same amount defenseman Andrew Ference paid after giving the middle finger to Montreal fans in Game 4 of the quarterfinals. There was no hearing with the league prior to the disciplinary action, suggesting the winger was not in any danger of being suspended, as Rangers coach John Tortorella was for hitting a fan with a bottle in 2009.
|05.28.11 at 12:42 pm ET|
Boston Pizza is a popular pizza chain in Canada, but for the duration of the Stanley Cup finals, the 62 restaurants in the province of British Columbia will change its name to Vancouver Pizza to support the Canucks. As part of the name change, the restaurants will use new logos that include a slash through the name Boston with Vancouver written underneath and the phrase “Proud fans.” (You can see the change on the chain’s web site.)
Back in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, Boston Pizzas in Montreal also changed their logos to say “Montreal Pizza.”
EDIT: The original post said there are no Boston Pizzas in the United States. There are, in fact, several locations, including one in Manchester, Conn. but all are under the name “Boston’s” instead.
|05.28.11 at 2:38 am ET|
Much was made of Lightning coach Guy Boucher‘s mind games, as they seemed, in the Eastern Conference finals. The Tampa coach, who does have a degree in psychology, displayed various tactics to seemingly mess with the Bruins’ heads, from discussing imaginary Tim Thomas quotes to saying before each of the first two games that Patrice Bergeron would play, to overemphasizing Tyler Seguin‘s impact, to cleverly calling out a referee without using his name. During the series, Bruins coach Claude Julien would have subtle and not-so-subtle responses to Boucher’s methods, noting that Boucher was hyping the Bruins more than he was his own team, and after Game 6, Julien said he feared the pre-game referee talk could have influenced the game.
With the series in the books, Boucher had one last press conference, and it turns out that if he used a trick at all, it was a case of killing Julien with kindness. When asked how he felt the Bruins might fare against the Canucks in the Stanley Cup finals, Boucher was sincere with his answer and made a point of it to express his respect for Julien.
“Both teams that make it there, to me, they are on even grounds, but one thing for sure, [the Bruins] are very well coached,” Boucher said. “You know Claude, I coached against him in Juniors, he’s always done a very good job. I was always very happy for his success in the past, obviously not tonight, but as he moves on, if there’s somebody that is going to beat us, that’s one guy I hope gets success.”
|05.28.11 at 2:34 am ET|
Because he’s still only 25, it can be easy to overlook the fact that Patrice Bergeron is the longest-tenured Bruin. Bergeron, who was just 18 in his rookie season of 2003-04, is in his seventh season with the club — eighth if you count the lockout year he spent with the Providence Bruins.
As a result, Bergeron knows the ups and downs that the Bruins and their fans have gone through — starting with blowing a 3-1 series lead to the Canadiens in 2004 — better than anyone else on the team. After earning a berth in the Stanley Cup finals Friday night, Bergeron said it felt great to finally be able to reward those fans like this.
“It’s unbelievable. It’s a great feeling, just to have the chance to share that with the city,” Bergeron said. “I call Boston my second home now. I love it here. That’s why I got my extension [before this season]. The feeling is amazing. I’ve been here for the highs and lows. Just to have a chance to do that here and share that, we could feel that the whole city was behind us all along.”
Bergeron had his own highs and lows to deal with in the Eastern Conference finals, as he missed the first two games with a mild concussion suffered in Game 4 of the second round. He had perhaps his best game of this series in Game 4, as he registered a pair of goals in a losing effort. Then in Game 5, he assisted on Brad Marchand‘s goal that proved to be the game-winner. And of course, he was his usual stellar self on faceoffs, winning 58.1 percent of his draws in the series.
Marchand called Bergeron’s return to the lineup the “turning point” of the series, but Bergeron was quick to deflect any and all credit to his teammates.
“I don’t know. I just want to go out there and play my game,” Bergeron said when asked about Marchand’s comments. “Obviously I’m not gonna be the one standing here and saying yes. As soon as I got back on the ice, I felt good. I was just trying to help the team as much as I could night in, night out. We got the job done as a team. It’s not about one person. That’s why we’re here. It’s about everyone.”
|05.28.11 at 2:16 am ET|
Bruins assistant captain Mark Recchi made his decision to return for a 22nd season in the NHL last summer, electing to re-up with the B’s after the team was eliminated in the second round by the Flyers. Now that his team is in the Stanley Cup finals, the two-time Cup winner said after Friday’s Eastern Conference-clinching victory over the Lightning that this is what he had in mind when he decided to return.
“This is what I play for, to get this opportunity one more time, and probably my last time is pretty special,” Recchi said. “WIth this group of guys, right from Day 1 in training camp we put a lot of belief in each other, a lot of trust, and a lot of working together. I’m going to end my career at some point and say this is one of the better groups I played with. I’m proud to play with them regardless of what happens.”
At 43 years of age, Recchi may very well be in his last season, as he said late in the regular season that he would retire if the Bruins won the Cup. Now, he’s glad he made the choice to go one more year.
“It’s been a fun year for me,” he said. “This is what I came back for. I’m proud to say I’ve played with these guys.”
|05.28.11 at 1:55 am ET|
“I mean, that makes it extra special,” Lucic said. “A lot of good things have happened to me in Vancouver.”
They sure have. Lucic, who was born and raised in Vancouver, got the chance to play junior hockey there for three seasons with the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League. He helped lead the Giants to a Memorial Cup title in 2007, and when the Bruins visited Vancouver earlier this season, the Giants held a “Milan Lucic Night” and inducted him into the club’s Ring of Honour. That trip was made even more memorable when Lucic scored what proved to be the game-winner in a 3-1 Bruins win.
Lucic said it will be great to play in front of friends and family in the finals, but that he might have some work to do when it comes to convincing them to root for his team.
“I know I am going to have to convert a lot of my, well my family is already converted, but a lot of my friends into Bruins fans,” Lucic said. “So that is going to be a little tough to do.”