|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.
|Bruins know they won’t win anything if they can’t succeed in Vancouver||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.
|Alain Vigneault says Roberto Luongo will start Game 5||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.
|Just like the Canucks, Tim Thomas is thinking about Tim Thomas||06.09.11 at 7:59 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — The Canucks have had a series-long obsession with Tim Thomas. It’s all they talk about with the media, and given that he’s held them to one goal over the last two games, probably all they think about.
As a result, a funny moment came from Thursday’s media availability at Rogers Arena, when Thomas tried to deflect the notion by saying he was just focusing on himself. Of course, by doing so, he admitted that he shares the Canucks’ fixation, causing quite a bit of laughter from the Vezina favorite and those on hand.
“[What they think about] doesn’t really matter,” Thomas said. “What’s going to matter is the results that you have on the ice moving forward. So I’m going to worry about Tim Thomas and not worry about anything else.”
Thomas said he doesn’t like to think about the idea that he might have any mental advantage over the Canucks, who have complained about his style of play and have used various tactics to throw him off physically.
“That’s something that I’d rather just ignore and worry and focus on just doing the best that I can on myself,” Thomas said. “It’s not something I put a lot of thought into.”
Frustrations have seemed to boil over between Vancouver forwards and Thomas. The 37-year-old netminder crushed Henrik Sedin in the crease in Game 3 and slashed Alexandre Burrows after the winger took multiple hacks at the top of his stick in Wednesday’s Game 4 Bruins’ victory.
|Patrice Bergeron: ‘We haven’t done anything yet’||06.09.11 at 7:48 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — The Bruins have returned to Vancouver having tied the Stanley Cup finals after dropping the series’ first two games and winning two at home. Though the 2-0 hole may have seemed insurmountable, the Bruins were able to overcome it for the second time this offseason. With the team still two wins away from their first Stanley Cup championship since 1972, center Patrice Bergeron said now is not the time for the B’s to feel accomplished.
“We’ve done it against Montreal, when were down 2-0 [in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals], so we knew we could do it, but with that being said, we haven’t done anything yet,” Bergeron said Thursday at Rogers Arena. “Yes, we came back, but we need to make sure we’re not stopping there.”
The Bruins and Canucks will play Game 5 Friday night at Rogers Arena.
|Nathan Horton visits Bruins after win, passes jacket to Rich Peverley||06.09.11 at 12:25 am ET|
Horton was declared out for the remainder of the playoffs due to a severe concussion, the result of a blindside hit from Canucks defenseman Aaron Rome Monday. He came in the room after Wednesday’s game to pass on the team’s 1980’s jacket, awarded to the game’s MVP. Horton still had the jacket in his stall because he had scored the game-winning goal in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals and the team did not want to take it from him. On Wednesday, he came in to give the jacket to Rich Peverley, who scored two goals filling in for Horton on the first line.
“It was pretty emotional,” Peverley said. “Nathan came in, and he’s a big part of this team. Just to be able to see him and know that he’s healthy and safe, that’s very important to us.”
Julien did not tell the team that Horton was in the building, and it was a pleasant surprise for his teammates.
“I didn’t know,” linemate David Krejci said. “It was a good feeling when [Julien] said that Horty was here. It was good to see him smile, telling us he’s feeling OK, he’s feeling much better. It was good to see him.”
The pre-game festivities featured Bobby Orr waving Horton’s No. 18 flag, and as the Bruins built their lead, chants of “Nathan Horton” rang out from the crowd.
“He’s such a good team guy,” Shawn Thornton said of Horton. “He does everything for us and he has all year. Everybody on this team loves him. He makes everybody around him feel better about themselves. I mean, I don’t think I’ve ever met a more positive guy in the room. For him to come in, guys were pretty excited.”
|Rich Peverley starts out on first line||06.08.11 at 7:49 pm ET|
The question that has been on everyone mind since Nathan Horton’s season was announced as over was answered Wednesday in warmups. Rich Peverley skated on the first line, meaning is the team’s first option at filling in for Horton on the team’s top line. Tyler Seguin is skating on the third line with Chris Kelly and Michael Ryder.