|06.10.11 at 6:16 pm ET|
VANCOUVER ‘ The Bruins are starting out this trip to Vancouver just the way they did the last time around: even in the Stanley Cup finals. This time around, it’s a best-of-three series, and the importance of getting a road win is magnified greatly. Sticking with the fun game-number-themed preview, here’s a look at Game 5.
FIVE THINGS THE BRUINS NEED TO DO
– Bring that home game on the road: Obviously, it is impossible for the B’s to replicate both the strategy and execution of Games 3 and 4 given that Canucks now have the last change, but all things considered, the Bruins can have success by continuing what made them successful in a couple of lopsided road wins: capitalize on what a disaster the Canucks have been offensively, and get to Roberto Luongo more with better opportunities. That’s something they can do without the benefit of last change.
– Keep the Sedins silent: The brothers Sedin were supposed to be stars of the Stanley Cup finals, and the fact that they have yet to show up would warrant any angry fan demanding a refund. The Zdeno Chara ‘ Dennis Seidenberg pairing vs. the Sedins has clearly worked out in the Bruins’ favor, as a two-point performance in Game 2 for Daniel Sedin remains the only time either brother has shown up on the scoring sheet in the first four games.
– Sustain the surprising special teams play: This series was supposed to be about the Canucks’ power play dominating, while the B’s would continue their no-show on the man advantage. Instead, it’s been the Bruins who have three power play goals through first four games, while the Canucks are 1-for-22.
– Score more than two goals: With the way the last two games have gone, Bruins fans might expect the B’s to toss six past Luongo Friday, but it was the lack of scoring at Rogers Center in Games 1 and 2 that hurt them in the end. It looks like they’ve exposed the Canucks’ defense well enough at this point, so the B’s should hope they can buck their trend of being limited on the scoreboard (two goals in their last trip here) at Rogers Arena.
– Let the Canucks obsess over Tim Thomas: The more they complain, the less success they have, which causes them to complain and repeat the process. On the ice, they keep trying to bug him with childish antics such as trying to knock Thomas’ stick loose by hitting the top of it, and thus far it has only frustrated the Canucks. Thomas should watch how much he reacts, as his slash on Alexandre Burrows was retaliatory, but still ill-advised. As long as Thomas continues to limit the Canucks the way he has (one goal allowed over the last two games), he can do pretty much whatever he wants.
– The last time the Bruins dropped two straight games to open a series (the quarterfinals vs. the Canadiens in April), they won three straight before eventually taking the series in seven games. The B’s
– Assists is the only major statistical category in which a Bruins player does not lead this postseason. David Krejci leads all postseason players in points (22), and goals (11), Zdeno Chara has a playoffs-best plus-14 rating, and Tim Thomas leads all goaltenders with a .936 save percentage and 2.11 goals against average. He is tied with Roberto Luongo with three shutouts and 14 wins, while Henrik Sedin is the only Canucks player to lead a category by himself. He has a postseason-best 19 assists. Thomas surpassed Carey Price‘s postseason-leading numbers with his shutout on Wednesday.
– This is now the Bruins’ first series this postseason in which the team that score the first goal won each of the first four games.
– Tomas Kaberle has had a negative rating in just two of the team’s 22 playoff games. His play has been improved in the Cup finals, and he’s
a plus-8 this postseason.
–Michael Ryder has had four points the last two games after having just two in the previous seven.
FIVE PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON
– Brad Marchand: The rookie pest was the best player on the ice Wednesday, flying and giving reminders that he’s more of a skill player than he may receive credit for. No. 63 has three points in the last two games, one of which was a beauty on the penalty kill Monday.
– Rich Peverley: After spending much of the last two rounds playing on either the fourth line or floating around in the lineup, Peverley showed he can handle playing on the Bruins’ first line by scoring two goals on Wednesday.
– Roberto Luongo: The Vezina finalist turned in back-to-back performances that warranted being pulled in Boston, but he insisted that he remain in the net for all of the team’s 8-1 loss in Game 3. The Bruins know to beat him high, and they’ve taken advantage of it. Alain Vigneault insists Luongo will remain the starter, as he should, but Luongo needs to prove that he isn’t falling apart on the biggest stage.
– Tyler Seguin: The rookie had a nice pass to set up Michael Ryder’s goal on Wednesday, but it looks like he’s regressing as far as the physical play goes. On the very shift in which Ryder scored, the rookie was chasing a puck in the corner but pulled up before he got there to avoid getting hit, and the Canucks broke it out easily. Seguin took so many steps in the right direction through the first few games of the Eastern Conference finals, and he needs to go back to that.
– Kevin Bieksa: It’s gotten worse and worse for Bieksa throughout this series, and if the report that Dan Hamhuis will remain out with a ruptured testicle is correct, the Canucks’ top-pair defenseman is in serious trouble. He’s been a minus-4 over the last two games, and Milan Lucic simply toyed with him priort to Peverley’s second goal Wednesday.
|06.10.11 at 5:08 pm ET|
Former NHL player and current Vancouver radio host Ray Ferraro joined the Mut & Merloni show Friday afternoon to talk about the Stanley Cup finals. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
Ferraro was a guest before Game 3 of the finals and has seen the Canucks fan base get much more worried since Boston knotted the series at 2-2.
“It’s a cloudy, gray day here in Vancouver,” Ferraro said. “While everybody seems to want to to believe, they’ve clearly seen that a team that they’d only seen one time in the regular season is a hell of a lot better than they thought. And you guys know, you see somebody in a short sample and you make this instant evaluation. They’re not fast enough. They’re not going to be able to hit our players.”
Added Ferraro: “They found out the game can change in a hurry. And you don’t get to be one of the final two teams by not being very good. I guess the way I would sum what I’ve seen this is that just like in life there are different ways to do the same thing. The Bruins go about it one way and the Canucks go about it a different way. And one way’s not better than the other, it’s just different. And here we sit tied 2-2.”
Former Bruin and current TV analyst Mike Milbury recently joked about Henrik and Daniel Sedin, calling them “Thelma and Louise.” When asked if he thought the identical twins needed to become tougher, Ferraro said it’s not going to happen.
“They can’t. You can’t change who you are,” he said. “The Sedins aren’t going to physically challenge anybody. I think one of their biggest problems is that they’ve gotten involved in a little bit of the extracurricular stuff. Boston’s pushing them around and they’re trying to push back. There’s no point in it. There’s no point for the Sedins. The push back has to be being stronger on the puck, winning a puck battle and when you get a power play, hurt the Bruins that way. They’re not going to hurt them physically. Mike calling them ‘Thelma and Louise’ of course it sounds great and it’s great TV, but ask him if he was coaching if he’d want the back-to-back Art Ross Trophy winners on his team. I hope he’d say yes. If not, he’d be, well, on TV.”
|06.10.11 at 3:10 pm ET|
We landed in Boston at Logan Airport around midnight and headed for hotel in the beautiful city of Quincy. Once there, we decided to try out a local delicacy called “Dunkin Donuts”. It was decadent.
After two hours sleep, the Super Bowl-style media circuit got underway. First stop, WEEI. The boys there were awesome. From the radio show to the web guys, that station served up some damn good times. The update man “Meter” did his best WWE Goldust impression by wearing a gold suit on-air. Word to the wise my friend: it was on backwards and there’s a reason we wear jocks dude. Good on ya though.
We then headed out to the Garden for about 10-15 more interviews. The funniest one was for a Canadian national broadcaster that thought we didn’t know who Bobby Orr was. “Hey there’s the statue of Bobby Orr, you guys know him?” No, who is the Orr fellow?
After all the media we then had some time to sit down for some brews. The Boston Brew House was excellent and the Fenway Lagers hit the spot. By the way, excellent Haddock…holy crap that was good!
We boarded a trolley bus full of Canuck fans. Some were sober, but most were tanked I think. I want to apologize to Bostonians as well. Some of the guys on the bus were giving people the middle finger in the streets and that’s not cool in the slightest. That’s not the Canadian, let alone Vancouver way at all.
Game time hit around 8:00. We went to the game with our suits under our pants and timed it beautifully. We waited for the giant Bruins flag to come over top of us and we threw em on with nobody looking.
Everything was going great until Aaron Rome knocked out Nathan Horton. We were worried for Horton just like the rest of the crowd but of course a few people saw it differently. They yelled, swore and threatened us. The worst part was that there was a family in front of us and the father kept covering the sons ears because of this meat head swearing at us. I’m all for taking a few heckels and chirps, but come on man, don’t go all out when there’s little kids around.
We took a few shoves, middle fingers and beaks that night. Not to mention on the ice we took pounding, 8-1. We were rushed into a washroom with 1:30 left on the clock and told to hurry up and change by some of Boston’s finest. It’s because of them we didn’t return home in a body bag that night.
We took the day off from the suits and headed to New York City. We took the Amtrak there, which we’d learn later, was a hell of a lot better than taking the bus. Once in NYC we headed straight for the ballpark to watch the Sox lay a beat down on the Yanks. It was awesome.
We did a little bit of work for WEEI while we were there and helped out as best we could. It was the least we could do considering how awesome those guys were to us back on Day 1. Actually, you know what? Here and now, I’m going to proclaim WEEI our favorite station when in Beantown. That’s our home away from home. You heard it here first!
Back to the game. The BoSox dominated the Yanks and we then headed for Times Square. It was alright. I’m sorry, but there were too many lights. I kept thinking, “What a waste of electricity.” It was like three in the morning and they were still pumping out a huge power bill. There were 20 people in the street. I got confused easily as you can see.
We then grabbed the 3:30 am express bus back to Boston. I, Sully, ended sleeping on the floor, while Force took up two seats. Man that bus ride sucked.
We got to explore the city and take it in a bit. We did the Fenway Park tour which was amazing. That is, hands down, the coolest ballpark/stadium I’ve ever seen. So much history in that joint. It was so awesome that I’m going to head back to Boston soon after the Cup finals to catch a game. The tour was great but I need the real experience. I also bought a few vintage Sox shirts which, guaranteed, I’ll get chirped for back home, but to hell with it! They’re good looking shirts.
We went to the game not knowing what to expect. The cab ride was eerily silent as we could sense the tone had changed. Not only were the Bruins riding this high, you could feel that their fans were also pretty charged. I wasn’t worried but I was a little uncomfortable knowing that anything could happen, even and especially for the worse.
We pulled the same change into the suit under the flag routine and it was game on.
After a lackluster first we took photos in the concourse again and were asked if we’d like to visit the Canadian Prime Minister, Mr. Stephen Harper. Obviously, we said yes.
During the next intermission we were ushered by security over to his section. It was awesome but the walk back was brutal. A few cops helped us again but I had a drink poured on me, got kicked, and smacked in the head. It was a little rough but it’s playoff time and you have to play through the pain.
I’d say about 95 percent of people down there were awesome and realized that we meant no harm and tried to be as polite as possible. That’s the Canadian way. However, the other five percent were relentless, crude and rude…especially around the kids. Not much bothers me in that suit, except for people swearing around little kids.
We took a bunch of photos with youngsters and their parents and every time we did, there was a guy or two dropping constant f-bombs. Go to the game, have a good time, but come on, don’t be a total jerk.
Aside from that, Boston you’ve got a beautiful city and we thank you for the hospitality.
|06.10.11 at 1:37 pm ET|
Hockey Night in Canada and NHL Network analyst Kevin Weekes joined the Mut & Merloni show Friday morning to discuss the Stanley Cup finals. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
Weekes, a former NHL goalie, spent much of the interview talking about Roberto Luongo and Tim Thomas. Regarding the question of whether Luongo should be starting Game 5, Weekes said he supported the decision to go back to Luongo.
“Roberto’s your No. 1 goalie. I believe you have to give him the chance,” he said. “There’s no question. I believe you’ve got to give Roberto the chance to play. But I will say this: I think it’s going to be a very short leash.”
The Canucks have criticized Thomas for coming out of his crease so far and so frequently. Weekes suggested that Luongo should learn from what Thomas is doing.
“There’s times when you need to be out of the blue paint, you need to face shooters down and be aggressive and take away that angle from them,” he said. “And Timmy Thomas has done an excellent job of that. That’s a real good element of his game.
“Roberto, I think, needs to come out and challenge a little bit more, use his size to his advantage. It’s one thing to say you’re 6-3, but when you’re just a foot above the goal line at 6-3, that’s an awful lot of net for a shooter to see. And if not, your reflexes need to be razor sharp that game and so precise that you leave yourself with no margin for error.”
|06.10.11 at 12:10 pm ET|
With the Stanley Cup finals down to a best-of-three series, two countries’ worth of media can’t help but comment on the series.
The Toronto Star’s Dan Robson hasn’t enjoyed the pettiness and immaturity by both the Canucks and the Bruins, calling them ‘fifth-grade versions of themselves.’
Wrote Robson: ‘The Bruins and Canucks have gone classless-tit for gutless-tat all series long.’
ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun, meanwhile, has focused on the games themselves, seeing Vancouver’s road losses to the Bruins by a combined score of 12-1 reflect numerous issues with the Canucks, ranging from poor goalie play to a lack of team confidence.
‘They head home with their confidence shaken, their goalie perhaps rattled and their passionate fan base unquestionably believing 40 years of misery will continue with one more giant heartbreak headed their way,’ LeBrun wrote Thursday.
Gord McIntyre, a writer for Vancouver-based newspaper the Province, wrote Friday that the media and much of the NHL wants to see the Canucks lose, that they have become the villains of the NHL. His article cited such examples as Versus commentator Mike Milbury calling Daniel and Henrik Sedin ‘Thelma and Louise,’ a Chicago reporter seeing a picture of Cher and saying ‘Luongo,’ and Blackhawks center Dave Bolland saying the team played ‘sort of like a little girl.’
Helene Elliot of the Chicago Tribune wrote Thursday that the Bruins’ success is based on Tim Thomas‘ success, and Thomas’ success is based on his ‘feistiness.’ Jackie MacMullan of ESPN.com wrote a similar article Thursday, but added that the Canucks don’t respect Thomas’ aggression and talent. MacMullan quoted Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa as calling Thomas ‘leaky,’ and wrote that, according to the Canucks, simply shooting more will expose Thomas’ weaknesses.
|06.10.11 at 3:35 am ET|
VANCOUVER — The Bruins were a very good road team in the regular season. Now, whether they are able to win on the road will determine whether they win the Stanley Cup.
With the Canucks having the advantage of home ice in Games 5 and 7 of the finals, the Bruins will need to win one (or possibly two) games at Rogers Arena if they want to hoist the Cup.
“We know that, because basically now we’re in a best-of-three series with Vancouver having the home-ice advantage,” Tim Thomas, who allowed four goals over the Bruins’ losses in Games 1 and 2 in Vancouver, said Thursday. “We know that we have to win here, for sure.”
The Bruins were able to shake off their two losses to open the series by returning to Boston and beating the Canucks in convincing fashion Monday and Wednesday to tie the series. Winning by at least four goals, as they did both nights, would be nice, but then again, doing anything to resemble the way they dominated at home would be a welcomed sight.
“I don’t think it’s necessarily bringing a home game, it’s just bringing our game,” Claude Julien said Thursday. “As I mentioned here, I don’t think we played extremely well in those first two games. We were OK. That wasn’t good enough against a team like Vancouver. They’re a great hockey club.
“We need to play with a lot of emotion, intensity and play on our toes. That’s something that we have to certainly bring here.”
The friendly folks over at the WEEI.com stat truck passed along this nugget: The B’s have yet to pick up their third victory of a series on the road. If they can’t do so this series, they’ll be returning to the Garden facing elimination.
From the pregame presentation, to the in-house band, to the sea of white towels waving, to the arena-wide singing of “O Canada,” Rogers Arena certainly has a way of pumping up the Canucks players and fans. The B’s were able to silence that energy in Game 2 when they held a 2-1 lead, but as the Bruins get ready to take the ice in Vancouver for the third time this series, they do so knowing they haven’t gotten anything more than lessons from their two games at Rogers thus far.
“It’s pretty hard to play here,” Patrice Bergeron said in the visitors locker room. “The crowd is very loud, and obviously Vancouver is going to look to bounce back, so we’re going to need to make sure we’re bringing the same energy we had in Games 3 and 4. That being said, it’s a huge game tomorrow and we need to focus on that.”
Either way, the Stanley Cup will be at TD Garden on Monday for Game 6. Whether the Bruins can give themselves the chance to play for it depends on what they can do in the opponents’ building.
|06.09.11 at 9:32 pm ET|
Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said Thursday at Rogers Arena that he will not be making a goaltending change prior to Friday’s Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals. Vezina finalist Roberto Luongo has allowed 12 goals over his last two games (both lopsided Bruins wins), but Vigneault said he will not be turning to Cory Schneider, as he did in the first round after Luongo struggled in Games 4 and 5.
“My gut at that time told me that putting Schneids in was the right thing to do, but it was just a one-[time] thing,” Vigneault said. “Roberto is the guy. He’s my guy, and he’s playing. It’s that simple.”
Schneider replaced Luongo after the Bruins’ scored their fourth goal in Wednesday’s Game 4 at TD Garden. The Marblehead native and former BC netminder stopped all nine shots he saw.