|Bruins have one last chance to get traffic in Vancouver||06.15.11 at 3:40 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — The Bruins had no problem addressing the elephant in the province Wednesday.
The Bruins don’t play well in British Columbia (specifically Vancouver) — at least they haven’t thus far in the Stanley Cup finals. They’ve been sound defensively for the most part, and Tim Thomas has turned in the same type of dominance he’s turned in (three goals against in three losses) anywhere else. Yet the team hasn’t been able to create traffic and set up shop in front of Roberto Luongo, limiting their close-range chances and handing the Vancouver goaltender a pair of easy shutouts.
“It seems like we haven’t brought our physical game here to Vancouver,” native Milan Lucic said. “If we can just focus on that and moving our feet, kind of just playing more of a relaxed game ‘¦ It feels like we’ve been tense the last three times that we’ve played here, so if we can do that I like our chances.”
It was interesting that Lucic admitted to playing tense, as it’s seemed clear that the Bruins’ offense has seemed to be just that on the Rogers Arena ice. If there’s any time for them to break out of it, it’s now.
“I don’t think that we’ve had our best games out here,” Chris Kelly said Wednesday, “so hopefully tonight we can correct that and come out and play our best game.”
It’s been a breeze for the Bruins when it comes to getting in close when playing at home. So why, in Vancouver, have the Canucks been able to box them out as well as they have? And why, in turn, have the Bruins seemingly bought into the mirage that is a stronger Vancouver defense at home?
“I think [it’s been] a bit of both,” Kelly said of whether it’s been the Canucks’ defense or the Bruins’ offense that is to blame for Boston’s lack of traffic in British Columbia. “Give them credit. They’ve done a good job boxing us out, preventing us from getting to the front of the net, but I think we need to battle a little harder and find ways to get there.”
If the Bruins can’t find ways to battle harder, their season will end in so-close-yet-so-far fashion. Coach Claude Julien has sent a message to the B’s since they closed out Game 6. The message?
“Crash ‘n bang,” Tyler Seguin said. “We made our adjustments, and obviously we want to get up in their face a little bit more. I think last time in their building they took it to us more than [we did to them], and we definitely want to respond with just as much if not more physicality.”
Yes, the Bruins have been a different, weaker animal in Vancouver than they have been in Boston. But when it comes to Wednesday night, they have to be aware that with the Stanley Cup just 60 minutes (or more) of hockey away from being theirs, they have to look at it as one game to shine, rather than the fourth game of a rough Vancouver experience.
“That’s kind of why we think it’s a different mindset tonight,” Seguin said, “because it’s just one game.
|Cory Schneider says Roberto Luongo is ‘more ready than anybody’||06.15.11 at 2:38 pm ET|
This series, he’s had an easy time at Rogers Arena, picking up a couple of shutouts in games in which the Bruins’ offense didn’t show up. He’s also shot his mouth off, and when he’s tried to make it better, it’s gotten worse. Then there are the 15 goals he’s allowed in three starts (less than two games’ worth of play given that he was yanked twice) in Boston.
As a result of Luongo’s up-and-down (but overall messy) series, local boy and Canucks backup Cory Schneider has also been popular. He’s gotten to play twice in Boston, and he’s done so well. Yet the former Boston College goaltender and first-round pick seems sure that he’ll stay on the bench the entire game Wednesday.
“Lou is more ready than anybody. He’s had to take the most flak, he’s had to sit there and listen to people mock him and insult him and point fingers at him,” Schneider said. “It’s not easy to do. I don’t care how much you get paid or if you’re a pro athlete or what. No one likes that stuff. It fuels him, it drives him. it makes him want to be better. We’ve seen it before in gold medal games and Game 7’s, he’s answered the bell in big moments. We expect nothing less from him because he’s our guy.”
Schneider received cheers in Games 4 and 6 when he skated to the net in relief. Of course, the love thrown at Schneider in Boston is both a combination of the fact that he’s a native and the fact that when he’s in, Luongo’s out.
“They’re a rowdy crowd and they feed off that stuff,” Schneider said of the folks at the Garden. “They kind of pander to the crowd and get them more riled up every time they show him on the bench. They kind of get whipped into a frenzy about it, but we’re not in Boston right now, so who cares? We’re in Vancouver right now. Lu’s been phenomenal here, and our crowd is great as well. We’re going to hope that they’re going to get on [Boston’s] guys and their players and make it easier for us.”
Tonight will see the culmination of a series between two stylistically different goaltenders who have found ways to dominate in their own ways. Both Tim Thomas and Luongo are Vezina finalists, with Thomas set to receive the award at the end of the month. The B’s goaltender also figures to win the Conn Smythe trophy as playoff MVP.
Schneider has been able to observe both goaltenders, as he played at BC while Thomas was tending goal for the B’s. Though he doesn’t know Thomas, Schneider admires the uphill climb he has overcome as a ninth-round pick who has spent time playing in Europe.
“Clearly the path [Thomas] has taken has been one of obstacles and difficulty that he’s overcome and has managed to find a way,” Schneider said. “That kind of seems to be the theme of his game, is that he finds a way. He’s a competitor and a battler, and we’re going to need everything we have tonight to get a few past him and get a win.”
Having said that, Schneider doesn’t feel Luongo, the fourth overall pick in 1997, should be blamed for traveling an easier road.
“I don’t think you can hold it against him that he was a high draft pick or has a great pedigree. He worked hard for that, he earned that right,” Schneider said. “He’s been a competitor and a warrior from the day I’ve met him. He’s one of the most competitive guys I’ve seen. He hates to lose. He hates giving up goals, he hates all that stuff. People might see it as arrogance, but I see it as confidence in himself, as a belief that he shouldn’t be beaten ever. I think you have to have that mindset as a goalie that if you’re not 100 percent confident in yourself, you’re not really in the right position.”
|Nathan Horton obviously not playing Game 7||06.15.11 at 2:00 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — In the “how is this news?” moment of the day, here’s a good one.
Bruins coach Claude Julien didn’t even let a reporter finish his question Wednesday in Vancouver when the topic of Nathan Horton potentially playing in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals was brought up. The coach said there was no way Horton would be playing, a statement so obvious that the fact it became a story up here speaks volumes to how badly the media up here gets carried away. After all, Horton was diagnosed with a severe concussion just over a week ago and was ruled out for the rest of the playoffs.
“Let me cut your question short,” Julien said. “Absolutely no. It’s ridiculous. So let’s put an end to that.”
A television station in Vancouver turned Julien’s quote from Tuesday about Horton wishing he could play into a report that “Horton was trying to convince the Bruins to let him play in Game 7.”
So no, Horton is obviously not playing. It’s astonishing that even had to be said.
|Daniel Sedin guarantees he didn’t guarantee anything||06.15.11 at 1:38 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — Both the Canucks and Bruins players have provided enough drama for the Stanley Cup finals without the press exaggerating their words the way the players have exaggerated plays to get penalties.
Yet the media up here pulled a bit of a Maxim Lapierre this week when they turned Daniel Sedin saying he was confident his team would take Game 7 into a guaranteed victory.
“We’re 3-3 and we won all three games at home and we have the fourth game at home,” Sedin, who used the words “will win,” told the Vancouver Sun. “So we have the seventh game at home and we’ll take that. We are confident.”
The Canucks’ alternate captain wasn’t pleased with the idea that he guaranteed victory, and said Wednesday that expressing confidence at home is different from providing a guarantee.
“I didn’t do that,” he said. “I said if we bring our best game, I like our chances. You can never guarantee anything in life, but I can guarantee you that we’re going to bring the best tonight. That’s been good enough in 99 percent of the games this year, and I hope it’s going to be enough tonight.”
Said coach Alain Vigneault: “Well, what did you expect him to say? We’re in this to win. Daniel is one of our leaders on our group and believes in the group. He expressed it. I think it’s a normal thing to do at this time.”
Asked where he was when he found out that he’d guaranteed a Game 7 victory, Sedin could only laugh at the path his words have taken.
“That’s media making a big deal out of it. If we play our best, I like our chances. If guys want to take that as a guarantee’¦” Daniel said, finishing the sentence with a puzzled shrug and a laugh.
|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.
|Nathan Horton travels to Vancouver with Bruins, teammates keep him in mind||06.14.11 at 11:28 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — It wasn’t immediately clear whether Nathan Horton would be well enough to endure a coast-to-coast flight, but the concussed Bruins forward did indeed make the trip to Vancouver to watch his team play Wednesday’s Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals.
“He certainly wanted to be here. We wanted him on this trip,” coach Claude Julien said Tuesday. “As you know, when you get this far, you’re a pretty close-knit group. Our guys wanted everybody here and they’ve got it.”
Horton suffered a severe concussion that ended his season when he was dropped by Canucks defenseman Aaron Rome early in Game 3 of the series. The first-line right wing left the game and arena in a stretcher and was ruled out for the remainder of the playoffs the next day. Rome, meanwhile, was suspended for four games for the hit. Horton was at TD Garden for Game 6, being shown on the Jumbotron with tears in his eyes waving a pair of Bruins flags.
Now, the Bruins have left Horton’s equipment in his locker, a sign that he is still just as big a part of the team as anyone else. Given that he came to the Bruins with a reputation as a player who was indifferent to the game, the former third overall pick certainly made a strong impression on his teammates in his first year in Boston and found an NHL home.
“That’s something the guys wanted to do,” Julien said of the equipment gesture. “They wanted him to be part of our group here. Until, again, the third game of the playoffs, he was a big contributor to our hockey club. If the doctors would let him, he would play [Wednesday] and we all know that that’s the way he feels right now. He would be willing to play through what he’s gone through.
“But we know that’s not the right decision to make. But that’s the way he’s feeling right now. He wants to play so badly, he would be willing to play through that. So when a guy has that approach and has that will to want to do that for his team and teammates, the least you can do is honor him in your own way. Our players chose to honor him by making sure the trainers brought his equipment. Before the game, his sweater is hanging in his stall. He’s part of our team and we want him there to the end.”
One man who will not be at Rogers Arena Wednesday is Marc Savard. Like Horton, Savard is dealing with issues from a concussion, though Savard’s history of concussions likely make traveling more difficult. Savard has been in attendance at for a couple of games in Boston, a significantly shorter trip from Peterborough, Ontario, this postseason.
“Marc is probably the only one right now that’s not here, and his health varies from day to day, week to week,” Julien said. “He’s still in our thoughts and he’s part of our hockey club as well. We’ve got a lot of guys that are part of this and some of them are here and one of them isn’t.”
Horton developed a reputation as a clutch player in his first postseason this year, scoring series-clinching goals in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals and finals. He had eight goals and nine assists for 17 points and a plus-11 in 21 games.
Video courtesy of Bruins.NHL.com.
|Bruins probably hope second time’s a charm for Andrew Ference||06.14.11 at 11:11 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference may be playing for his first Stanley Cup championship, but Wednesday night in Vancouver won’t be his first Game 7 of the finals. Ference has been one win away from the Cup before, but it wasn’t as memorable an experience as he would have hoped.
Ference and his Flames led the Lightning, three games to two, in the 2004 Stanley Cup finals before Tampa Bay took Game 6 in double overtime to force a seventh game. In that decisive contest, Ference led all Calgary skaters in ice time, but with the Flames trailing, 2-1, in the third period, he took a charging penalty with 1:01. The Lightning held on to seal Game 7 and hoist the Cup at St. Pete Times Forum.
Asked Tuesday at Rogers Arena whether being in another Game 7 with the Cup on the line, Ference wasn’t his generally elaborate self, saying he hasn’t given much thought to the way things panned out last time he got the chance.
“You don’t have to block [the memories] out,” Ference explained. “It was a long time ago. I don’t know. You obviously remember it and stuff like that, but it’s not really on my mind.”
Like the Bruins this year, the 2004 Flames had to deal with a seven-game series more than once. Ference’s squad opened that postseason as the No. 6 seed and defeated the No. 3 Canucks in seven. They then eliminated the Red Wings and Sharks (both in six games), to reach the finals and eventually come one victory away from wining it all.
Coming as close as he did to winning it in ’04 doesn’t give the 32-year-old Edmonton native any more motivation to winning the Cup. Though he’s been so close he could taste it before, he never felt the urge to close out the series was lacking. He just learned the hard way that one team wins, and one team loses.
“I had all the motivation last time as well,” Ference said. “Sometimes it shakes out the right way for you, and sometimes it doesn’t. I don’t think the approach is any different or the desire is any stronger. It’s the same. You just hope that the team that you’re on puts it together.”
Ference, like Mark Recchi, can use their experience in the final game of the postseason to prepare guys who haven’t been there before. The second-pairing blue-liner likes to think he’s helped his teammates get ready for it all year.
“You talk about it all year. You become friends with people on your team,” he said. “It’s not like you just start talking about these things when you’re in the situation. You live together all year and spend so much time together that stuff like that is always talked about.”
After Wednesday night, perhaps Ference won’t have any pointers left to give his teammates. If they’re all Stanley Cup champions, they’ll be on the same page.
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