|06.01.11 at 5:09 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — When players are on the ice, they have to focus on nothing but what’s on the ice. Yet for Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference, he’ll have a pretty big name in the stands Wednesday watching him in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals.
“My best friend lives in Vancouver. My parents will be at the games. Dr. Suzuki is coming tonight with my parents,” Ference said when listing who will be at the game. “My sister is flying out, it’s close for them, and we have people coming down to Boston as well. I think it’s a lot more fun to cheer for the Bruins down there than it is here.”
That Dr. Suzuki he mentioned is Dr. David Suzuki, who is a well-known Canadian environmentalist and hails from Vancouver. Years ago in an interview, Ference said that if he could meet one person, it would be Suzuki. Since then, the two have teamed to create the NHL’s carbon-neutral program and have remained friends.
So it must be pretty cool for Ference, known just as well for his environmental interests as he is for a certain on-ice gesture this postseason, to have Suzuki sitting with his parents as he tries to win the Stanley Cup.
“He’s been to a couple [of my games], and he’s excited. He loves hockey,” Ference said Wednesday. “But I told him not to cheer for us, because he would probably get notched down a couple places in Canadien folklore. I said it’s alright if he cheers for the Canucks, but he might be a neutral party tonight.”
While playing in Vancouver is neat for someone from western Canada, the 32-year-old just considers himself lucky to be playing for the Cup at all. The last time he played in the finals was in 2004, when his Flames fell to the Lightning in seven games.
“I feel really fortunate. It’s my second going to the finals, and both times with the Canadian content. It’s a special thing, and for a Canadian team to be matched up with an Original 6, that’s a really cool opportunity as a player,” he said. “For two great cities with good hockey history to be involved is awesome. The finals is special no matter what, but there’s a couple of little extra sprinkles on top with this matchup.”
|06.01.11 at 5:03 pm ET|
It’s no secret that the Bruins enter the Stanley Cup finals as slight underdogs. Predictions from members of both local and national media back that up. WEEI’s John Dennis and Gerry Callahan, three of five ESPN Boston staff members, and three of six Boston Globe staff members are picking Vancouver to take home the cup. Staff at ESPN, Sports Illustrated, USA Today, Yahoo also selected the Canucks to go the distance. To the surprise of no one, only one of 13 Vancouver Sun employees has Boston winning. And now even machines are picking Boston to come up short.
Here is a full list of Stanley Cup finals predictions:
WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan Show: Callahan (5) and Dennis (6) went with the Canucks.
Boston Globe staff: Kevin Paul Dupont (6), Chris Gasper (6) and Fluto Shinzawa (7) picked the Bruins, while Jim Hoban (5), Dan Shaughnessy (5) and Bob Ryan (7) went with the Canucks.
What they’re saying: “Spike in babies named Zdeno [Chara] in Children’s hospital next March.” — Fluto Shinzawa
What they’re saying: “This is probably one of the best possible matchups hockey fans could have asked for in the Stanley Cup finals. Both the Bruins and Canucks bring a little bit of everything: grit, physicality, speed, size, skill, defense and of course goaltending. That’s why I see this series going at least six games, but I believe the Bruins will prevent the series from going back to Vancouver and hoist their first Stanley Cup since 1972 on TD Garden ice.” — James Murphy
Vancouver Sun staff (1/12): Yvonne Zacharias (7) picked the Bruins, while Mike Beamish (4), Matthew Black (5), Scott Brown (5), Cam Cole (6), Bruce Constantineau (6), Iain MacIntyre (5), Harrison Mooney (6), Elliott Pap (7), Daniel Wagner (6), Bev Wake (6), Ian Walker (5) and Brad Ziemer (5).
What they’re saying: “The Canucks needed seven games to de-claw Blackhawks, put the treads to Preds in six, harpooned the Sharks in five. We see a trend developing. Boston might a have chance if the B’s were still playing on the small ice pad of Boston Garden. Unfortunately, they blew up the Gah-den real good some time ago. [Roberto] Luongo, [Ryan] Kesler, [Henrik and Daniel] Sedin, Conn Smythe Trophy winner [Kevin] Bieksa and the potential emotional return of [Manny] Malhotra will turn the Beantowners into bean paste. Broom time, Boston. Canucks in four.” –Mike Beamish
Canadian National media:
The Canadian Press: Chris Johnston (7) picked the Bruins, while Bill Beacon (6) went with the Canucks.
What they’re saying: “Goaltending is a saw-off between two veterans who can be either airtight or leaky from one game to the next. Both have good, gritty third and fourth lines. But the Canucks also have home ice advantage. Boston is better than some give them credit for, but not enough to stop Vancouver from becoming the first Canadian team to win since 1993.” — Bill Beacon
American National media:
ESPN staff: Scott Burnside (6) and Steve Levy (6) picked the Bruins, while John Buccigross (7), Linda Cohn (6), Pierre LeBrun (7), and Barry Melrose (6) went with the Canucks.
The Hockey News: THN went with the Canucks in six games.
What they’re saying: “When we were forecasting our Cup winner while doing our annual THN Yearbook last summer, we chose the Canucks, then changed our minds to the Bruins the next day, then went back to the Canucks the day after that. Indecisive? Yes. Geniuses? Yes again. Vancouver in six.” — THN staff
Sports Illustrated: Darren Eliot went with the Canucks in six games.
What they’re saying: “Outside of Kesler, Bieksa has been the next most vital player for Vancouver. He is a physical blueline presence who has come up with his best when his team has needed it most. Bieksa is a gamer and I say that with the utmost admiration. His big goals, big hits and leadership air that have stood out thus far all have to be in place against the Bruins. If Bieksa continues with his fine postseason, the Canucks have a better than even chance of winning the first Stanley Cup in franchise history.” — Darren Eliot
USA Today: Kevin Allen went with the Canucks in seven games.
What they’re saying: “Unless the Bruins can magically transform their power play into a scoring machine, it will be the Canucks in six games.” — Kevin Allen
What they’re saying: “The Bruins will play them tight, but the Canucks’ depth, special teams and, let’s face it, hockey voodoo will prevail – sending the Bruins to their sixth loss in the Finals since the 1972 Cup; winning the first Cup in Vancouver’s franchise history; and the first for Canada since 1993.” — Greg Wyshynski
Marc Crawford (Via The Province): The former Vancouver coach picked the Canucks.
Brian Leetch (via SI): The longtime Rangers captain picked the Canucks in six games.
Anonymous Scouts (Via The Province): One scout picked the Bruins in seven games while the other two picked the Canucks, both in seven games.
|06.01.11 at 4:34 pm ET|
The Bruins blanked the Lightning, 1-0, in a Game 7 victory last Friday that figures to be memorable for the team’s nearly flawless and disciplined execution. Julien hopes the B’s can play the same way against Vancouver.
“We talked about it after we won that game. Those are the types of games you have to play in order to win the Stanley Cup,” Julien said. “We’ve obviously proven that we can. Now it’s up to us and do it on a game after game basis. We understand the challenge. We understand what’s at stake. We understand who we’re playing.
“Basically our homework is done. Right now, it’s up to us to go out there and show that we can and believe that we can.”
|06.01.11 at 2:21 pm ET|
Later Wednesday afternoon, a list of Stanley Cup finals predictions from members of the media in Boston, Vancouver and the rest of the United States and Canada will be posted. However, the most telling pick may come from a machine.
The EA Sports NHL ’11 simulation engine has correctly predicted 13 of the 14 series this postseason. However, those picks were not the engine’s first. It did not pick just a Vancouver-Boston Stanley Cup finals matchup in April. In fact, it picked it before either of these teams even touched the ice for the 2010-11 campaign. This matchup was predicted all the way back in October.
In that simulation, the Canucks took the cup in seven games. Now, EA Sports has predicted results for each game in the series. The Bruins will win Game 3, Game 4 and Game 6 in overtime to send the series back to Vancouver for the decisive finale. Unfortunately for B’s fans, the Canucks are predicted to take Game 7 in 3-1 fashion.
Here is the full Stanley Cup finals prediction:
Game 1: Canucks 2, Bruins 1 (OT)
Game 2: Canucks 4, Bruins 2
Game 3: Bruins 1, Canucks 0
Game 4: Bruins 3, Canucks 2
Game 5: Canucks 4, Bruins 2
Game 6: Bruins 3, Canucks 2 (OT)
Game 7: Canucks 3, Bruins 1
If the simulator continues to see such dramatic success, maybe EA Sports will decide to switch from the video game industry to the gambling industry.
|06.01.11 at 1:48 pm ET|
Bruins national anthem singer Rene Rancourt was on hand at Fenway Park Wednesday afternoon to sing the national anthem prior to the Red Sox-White Sox game. WEEI.com caught up with Rancourt before he took to the field.
What do you think of the Bruins’ chances vs. the Canucks?
I try not to think too much because I get nervous when I think.
How do you feel about singing the national anthem at the Stanley Cup finals?
It is a great honor. I have been waiting many years. I’ve been like a bride waiting at the alter for all these years. I have to pinch myself and make sure this is really going on.
Do you do anything special for road games?
I like to listen to other singers. I like competition. It spurs you on to be better.
Who else in the league is good?
I don’t know, I don’t know names. I don’t get that involved.
Who is your favorite player on the Bruins?
I haven’t thought of that. ‘¦ Tim Thomas, because we’re both old men.
|06.01.11 at 1:13 pm ET|
How do you see the Bruins-Canucks Stanley Cup finals series playing out?
- Bruins in six games (52%, 104 Votes)
- Bruins in seven games (23%, 46 Votes)
- Canucks in six games (8%, 16 Votes)
- Canucks in five games (7%, 13 Votes)
- Canucks in seven games (3%, 6 Votes)
- Bruins sweep (3%, 5 Votes)
- I'm from Tampa; are the Lightning in the finals? (2%, 4 Votes)
- Bruins in five games (2%, 3 Votes)
- Canucks sweep (2%, 3 Votes)
Total Voters: 200
|06.01.11 at 12:09 pm ET|
Hall of Fame defenseman Brian Leetch joined the Mut & Merloni show Wednesday morning to talk about the Stanley Cup finals, which get under way Wednesday night in Vancouver. To hear the interview, go the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
Leetch, who grew up in Connecticut and played collegiately at Boston College, was asked about the Bruins being underdogs in this series.
“I know they don’t feel an underdog,” he said. “When you have two good teams playing, sometimes it’s just an easier pick to pick the team with more points during the regular season, or they had a couple of better stats. But you look at their stats up and down, these teams ‘ we’ve almost gotten to 100 games now ‘ are almost identical. Right through the playoffs and the regular season, there’s not much that separates them. The goaltending is both excellent, their top players, their depth.”
Asked about the Bruins being physical while avoiding penalties, Leetch said: “I think when we talk about the Bruins playing physical, it kind of gets taken a little out of context, of them going outside of their game or playing some different style. Really, their game is to get the puck in, is to finish their checks. It’s not to physically intimidate a team or to injure or to get a different style of play going.
“It’s their strength. It’s the way they play. And that doesn’t mean taking the extra run, it doesn’t mean going out of your way. It means getting he pucks int eh areas where you can get in on the forecheck, where you can take the body, where you can play physical. And the Bruins know as a team, you’ll hear it come out of each guy’s mouth, that we’re at our best when we play that way. We’re at our best when we finish checks, we’re moving our feet, we’re involved physically. So, I don’t think it does anything to take them out of a comfort zone or to run around. It’s just emphasis on playing the game the right way, which for the Bruins means playing physical.”