|06.13.11 at 4:01 pm ET|
With Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals getting closer and closer here is a look at what a few of the hockey experts are saying:
TSN’s Bob McKenzie writes that is has been a ‘bizarre’ Stanley Cup finals. McKenzie has been surprised with just how unruly things have gotten and also writes how he spoke to a referee and he too was surprised at how on edge the players have been. He also writes about how special teams have played a key role in the series and the challenge the Canucks face playing in Boston.
Jeff Klein, of the New York Times, examines just how close the Canucks are to claiming their first Stanley Cup in 41 years of existence. He writes the celebration would rival the celebration that followed the 2010 Winter Olympics gold-medal game held in Vancouver.
Helene Elliott of the LA Times writes how even though the Bruins have dominated the majority of the statistical categories throughout the series it is the Canucks who are one win away from winning the Stanley Cup.
|06.13.11 at 3:01 pm ET|
Marblehead, Mass native, Boston College grad and Canucks backup goaltender Cory Schneider has been running a series long blog, Cory’s Story, on NHL.com. He posts almost on a daily basis and writes about his experiences during the series and gives insights on what it’s like playing in a Stanley Cup final.
A few highlights from the blog include:
– Schneider plans on spending $4,000 on tickets for Game 6. He wants his family to be there and tickets are going for about $500 each in the loge section of the TD Garden. He says that he gets free tickets for home games, but is on his own for road games.
– Writing about the Vancouver locker room after the win in Game 5 he wrote, “Guys were obviously excited in the room, but I also think it was kind of unfinished business. We haven’t won anything, but we’ve put ourselves in a position to win and I think we’re a little more excited and optimistic to head back to Boston and try to get it done.”
– He discusses his role as a backup goaltender during the playoffs, a time where he sees very limited action. “Practice is a time when I can help the guys get better when they want to stay out for extra work. In that sense, that’s my role right now, finding a way to help the guys get better. It’s tough because you have to be ready at any moment. At the same time, you’re into it and as caught up as the players are. Sometimes even more.”
|06.13.11 at 2:02 pm ET|
Boston is not the only city that has an issue with the way the Canucks play the game.
Chicago Tribune writer Steve Rosenbloom wrote an article about the Blackhawks being familiar with the Canucks style of play because they acted the same way when they faced the Canucks in Round 1 of this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs. He notes a few dirty hits that the Canucks laid on the Blackhawks and the league did nothing in response to them.
The Province, a newspaper in British Columbia, recently ran a story about how most of Canada is pulling for the Bruins to win the Stanley Cup because most of Canada hates Vancouver. It says the hate comes from Canadians being jealous of Vancouver because it is a beautiful city and it hosted the Winter Olympics.
The Globe and Mail, a Toronto newspaper, had a story saying that the Canucks have become the NHL’s most hated team. The story examines the way the Canucks have reached the Stanley Cup finals and the way they have played the series. It also includes a quote from Oilers defenseman Ryan Whitney, who said, “This team is so easy to hate, it is unbelievable. … I’d say that 90 percent of the guys in the league want nothing to do with seeing them win.’
|06.13.11 at 1:51 pm ET|
The scoreboard operator got plenty of work early into games when the Bruins faced the Lightning in the Eastern Conference finals. In fact, 12 first-period goals were scored between the teams in the first five games of the series.
The same can’t be said for the Stanley Cup finals. The three Bruins’ losses have been nail-biters, and in total there have been just two goals scored in the first period. Quite a departure when considering that more goals were scored in the first 69 seconds (three) in the first five games of the conference finals than in the first 20 minutes of games thus far between the B’s and Canucks.
While the Bruins have used their home ice to essentially do whatever they want against Vancouver, the idea that they could be up for yet another close game in which the teams are scoreless in the third period (as has happened twice already) is not out of the question given the stakes.
“You can’t let anything get to you. If they score early, we can’t let it bug us,” Michael Ryder said Monday. “We still have a lot of game left. It’s a matter of us wanting to get that first goal. We need to get that first goal to set the tone. If it doesn’t happen, we can’t let it get to us. I think that’s upper main priority: come out, get the emotions up high early, get the intensity up there. I think if we do that, we’ll get on the scoreboard first.”
The team that has scored the first goal has one each game this series, though in Game 2 there were two blown leads before the final score was decided. Even so, the idea of getting a lead early on would provide this series with some fresh material.
“It definitely gets guys in the game, gets you going when you have the lead,” Ryder said. “When teams play with the lead, you do things a little different, you play a little harder. That’s what we want to do tonight.”
The earliest a goal has been scored in a game this series was 11:59 into Game 4, when Rich Peverley scored the first of four Bruins’ goals.
|06.13.11 at 1:50 pm ET|
It was a little thing – a little thing that Claude Julien works on often during practice. But on this Monday morning, the small detail of winning faceoffs could have a huge impact on who wins Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals.
Last Friday, in Game 5 in Vancouver, the Canucks found a way to win 34 of 65 draws while the Bruins only won 29 of those 65 one-on-one battles.
While none of them led directly to a goal, it did skew puck possession in Vancouver’s favor as the game progressed.
It’s actually been an area the Canucks have won in nearly every game of this series, including in both blowout wins by the Bruins in Games 3 and 4. But add the faceoffs in with losing puck battles and not getting enough bodies in front of Roberto Luongo and the small things become huge problems – problems the Bruins cannot afford tonight with no margin of error left.
In a close game, losing those battles can be deadly, especially when you’re the Bruins trying to kill one of best power play units in the game. So far, the Bruins have killed 24 of 25 Vancouver power plays.
“I don’t think we would be putting them there if it was just a faceoff thing,” Julien said. “But between Bergeron and Krejci are right-handed shots, and whether one of them is on the half fall, doesn’t really matter. The other one can be on the goal line. Krejci can make some plays from down low and Bergeron can take pucks at the net. We just feel that right now that’s a good scenario for that power play.
“We’ve got [Rich] Peverley who does move the puck well and [Dennis] Seidenberg who can shoot the puck well, we’ve got a good combination there. It’s shown some flashes of being very good, and when it hasn’t, it’s been not because of who you got out there, but what they’ve done. We’ve lost some battles in the last game. Certainly didn’t make some strong passes that were cut off. Vancouver does a great job. They’ve got good sticks on the penalty kill. If we don’t make crisp passes, you end up turning it over.”
The same goes for Vancouver.
“We have to bring our ‘A’ game and play the right way,” said Daniel Sedin. “When we win faceoffs and we have a lot of puck possession, we’re a good team. They’re obviously a good faceoff team so that’s going to be a big thing tonight. If we play the right way, and we play tight the way we did at home, it’s hard to get good scoring chances against us. When we play like we did in Games 3 and 4, we’re going to get some scoring chances but they are too, and that’s not the way we want to play.”
|06.13.11 at 1:33 pm ET|
The Bruins’ power play appeared to finally be coming around earlier this series, as it went 3-for-13 (23.1 percent) in the first three games. It has taken a step back since then, however, going 0-for-8 in the last two contests.
Claude Julien tried something new in Game 5 when he put Gregory Campbell in front of the net on the Bruins’ first couple man advantages, hoping that the fourth-line grinder would create some traffic and get some deflections. While much of the talk has been about the decision to use Campbell on the power play, the struggles had more to do with execution than personnel. Julien said after Game 5 that the Campbell-in-front plan never materialized because the Bruins never got the looks at the net that they wanted.
On Monday, Michael Ryder — who has been on the second power-play unit most of the playoffs — agreed that the problem isn’t with who’s on the ice.
“I think it’s all about our breakouts and the way we enter the zone,” Ryder said. “It seemed like last game, we couldn’t really get set up. And when we did, [Roberto] Luongo made some big saves. It’s just a matter of us establishing traffic in front and getting our breakout all on the same page with that first pass.”
Better entries into the zone would obviously make it much easier for the Bruins to get some of those setups that Julien said were absent in Game 5. Ryder added that once they’re in the zone, the Bruins will need to work harder and not overthink plays.
“Sometimes we have a tendency in the zone to look for plays that aren’t there instead of taking what Vancouver gives us,” Ryder said. “I think tonight we have to make sure that if we get the chance to take that shot, we take it and get the traffic in front. And we have to outwork their penalty kill. I think that’s one of the biggest issues. If we outwork their PK, we’ll have success on the power play.”
Julien hasn’t said if he plans to use Campbell on the power play again — he wasn’t on the Bruins’ last two man advantages in Game 5. It won’t matter who’s out there, though, if the execution and work ethic aren’t out there with them.
|06.13.11 at 1:28 pm ET|
The Canucks have the Stanley Cup at the Garden for motivation Monday night, and it seems the Bruins will have some less famous inspiration in the house.
Bruins coach Claude Julien said he expects Nathan Horton, who is out for the series due to a severe concussion suffered in Game 3, to be in attendance as the B’s look to prevent elimination in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals. Horton came into the Boston dressing room after the team’s 4-0 victory in Game 4, and has seen teammates here and there since.
“He’s been around,” Claude Julien said, also noting that under no circumstances would Horton be able to make a return to the ice this week. “‘¦If people are looking for miracles, if he’s [in attendance Monday], it will be pretty special. But right now, he’s still dealing with those concussion issues as we speak.
“He popped in quickly this morning just to say ‘hi.’ I have the impression that he’s going to be coming to the game tonight as long as he feels good, and that can vary as the day goes on. I think right now his plan is to hopefully be here tonight.”
Horton had eight goals and nine assists for 17 points in 21 games this postseason, his first playoffs experience. He scored series-clinching goals in Game 7 of both the Eastern Conference quarterfinals and finals.