Bruins-Canucks Game 7: Seven keys, stats and players to watch
|06.15.11 at 4:31 am ET|
VANCOUVER ‘ The Bruins and Canucks are a matter of hours away from determining who wins the Stanley Cup. Either way, the season will be over after Wednesday’s Game 7, but the Bruins just want to end it on the ultimate high note.
Here are seven keys, stats and players to watch.
SEVEN THINGS THE BRUINS NEED TO DO
– Get traffic: It was after Game 5 that a frustrated Patrice Bergeron stood in the visitors dressing room and said the Bruins didn’t do enough to get traffic in front of the net. Given that they could do it at home, it’s clear they’re capable. No better time to finally start doing it in Vancouver than Wednesday.
– Score early, shake Robert Luongo: Given the way the first three games here have gone, that could have simply read ‘score.’ Maybe nobody cares what goes through Luongo’s head, but as long as pucks go through his crease and into his net, the mental stuff will follow. The Bruins learned in Game 5 that the floodgates open easily if you can get to him in the first period. Yes, there’s something to be said for getting the first goal of the game, but it’s generally an overrated statistic. Yet when it comes to Luongo, scoring the first, second and maybe even third goal is gigantic.
– Win the special teams battle one last time: The Canucks’ power play was supposed to be a reason Vancouver would win the series, yet through six games it is 2-for-31. The Bruins, meanwhile, have five tallies on the power play this series. The Canucks can still make a difference they’re on the man advantage, but if the B’s can weather it one last time, they’ll be in good shape. As for their own power play, nothing could be worse than how they looked in going 0-for-4 on the man advantage in Game 5.
– Have the first line show up: David Krejci and Milan Lucic may be coming off a strong Game 6 in which they each scored, but the trio of Lucic, Krejci and Rich Peverley is no sure thing, as they were as silent as silent gets in Game 5. They need to prove that Game 6 was a statement they feel they can put an exclamation point on Wednesday.
– Get a lead and hold it: Each loss this series has provided at least one lesson. Game 2’s lesson was to hold a lead, something the Bruins didn’t do particularly well in two of their losses to Tampa Bay in the conference finals. If the B’s can secure a lead at any point, they shouldn’t sit back and wait for Vancouver to claw their way back in it. The Canucks can easily come back from a one-goal lead, and the Bruins learned that in Game 2.
– Keep getting the good stuff from Thomas: Not many Bruins have been excellent in every game this series, but Thomas has. The game-winner in Game 2 was ugly, but Thomas has allowed just eight goals this round. It would be a shame if he turned in another tremendous performance only to see it squandered as they were in Games 1 and 5.
– Keep it in perspective: The Bruins haven’t won the Stanley Cup since 1972, so after coming this far, how daunting can the fact that they’ve dropped a few in this building really be? Considering how close they are to what they want and how close the games in Vancouver have been, they shouldn’t have any reason to be intimidated.
– While Nathan Horton had the game-winners in both of the Bruins’ Game 7’s this postseason, it is Andrew Ference who leads the Bruins in Game 7 points this year with three. Ference had a pair of assists in Game 7 vs. the Canadiens and picked up a secondary helper on Horton’s third-period goal against the Lightning.
– Tim Thomas seems to have wrapped up the Conn Smythe trophy barring a Canucks blowout Wednesday. His stats this postseason (2.06 goals against average, .937 save percentage) fall between those of the last two goalies to win playoff MVP in Jean-Sebastian Giguere (1.62 GAA .945 save percentage) in 2003 and Cam Ward (2.14 GAA, .920 save percentage) in 2006.
– All Thomas needs is one save to have registered the most in a single postseason in league history. He enters Game 7 at 761, tied with Canucks goalie Kirk McLean, who stopped that many in the 1994 postseason. McLean played 24 games, while Wednesday will mark Thomas’ 25th game.
– Tomas Kaberle leads all Bruins defensemen with 11 points this postseason. All 11 of his points are assists, as Kaberle and McQuaid are the only regular Boston defensemen without a goal this postseason.
– Since 1971, only two teams have won Game 7 of the finals on the road: the ‘71 Canadiens in Chicago and the 2009 Penguins in Detroit.
– Either Dennis Seidenberg or Christian Ehrhoff will become the second German player to win the Stanley Cup. Uwe Krupp won the Cup in 1996 with the Avalanche and played eight regular-season (two postseason) games for the Red Wings when they won it in 2002.
SEVEN PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON
– Milan Lucic: The last three games have summarized exactly the way it’s been for Lucic when playing in Boston vs. playing in Vancouver. He fired five shots on goal in Game 4 and picked up an assist at the Garden. In Game 5 he was a complete no-show in a zero-shot performance at Rogers Arena before returning to Boston to score in Game 6. Though he scored in Vancouver in Game 2, he’ll need a performance in Game 7 far better than his previous ones on the road this series.
– Robert Luongo: The Vezina finalist stepped up big time in Game 5 after struggling in Boston. Will it happen again or is Luongo too fragile to shine when it matters most?
– Brad Marchand: For how much of a pest he is and how much he gets on the nerves of opponents, it’s a wonder Marchand hasn’t shined in Vancouver ‘ the hockey capital of infuriating players. Marchand, who has scored in every home game this round, failed to get a single shot on goal in Game 5 at Rogers Arena, so he’ll need to bring his four-shot, one-goal performance from Game 6 over to Vancouver. The Bruins have not lost this postseason when Marchand has scored, as they are 8-0 in such games, including Marchand’s two-goal performance in Game 1 against the Flyers.
– Jeff Tambellini: The bottom-six forward will be back in the lineup due to the injury suffered by Mason Raymond in Game 6. In doing so, Tambellini will be playing for the first time in eight days, as he was benched after Game 3 in favor of Tanner Glass.
– Tyler Seguin: For starters, it will be interesting to see how much ice time Claude Julien gives the 19-year-old in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals. Goals have been hard to come by at Rogers Arena, so the potential that Seguin offers is enticing. Regardless of how often he sees the ice, there needs to be zero hesitancy from the rookie: no pulling up to avoid getting hit and no slowing down to avoid going in the corners. It may be his first year, but there’s a good chance this is the biggest game he will ever play in his life. Seguin has not scored on the road since March 17 in Nashville.
– Dennis Seidenberg: The Bruins’ leader in time on ice this postseason was limited to 19:27 when he missed essentially half of the third period. He would come back on the ice and take shifts for the remainder of the game, but he may be a guy to add to the list of players playing through pain.
–Alexander Edler: Edler got just three third-period shifts, though Vancouver general manager Mike Gillis said Tuesday that he is ‘fine’ and will play in Game 7. If there’s anything slowing Edler down Wednesday, that will be big for the Bruins and crushing for a defensively thin squad.