|Bruins-Canucks Game 5 Preview: Five keys, stats and players||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.
- Chara owns, and is a fantastic captain
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