|Canucks trying not to get too excited about being one win away||06.12.11 at 4:48 pm ET|
The Canucks are trying to stay as level-headed as possible leading up to Monday’s Game 6, but they know it’s going to be difficult given the fact that they’re one win away from hoisting the Stanley Cup.
“I think it’s natural to be excited,” captain Henrik Sedin said. “We’re in a great spot. We’re one win away from winning it, so we’re excited. But we know if we get out of our comfort zone and start getting overly excited, it’s going to take away from our game. That’s a key for us, to come in here tomorrow and play the way we have all year.”
Forward Christopher Higgins said it will be crucial for the Canucks to strike a balance between thinking about the Cup while also focusing on the game at hand.
“I think you have to think about it,” Higgins said when asked about the possibility of lifting the Cup. “That’s what you’re playing the game for. But there’s a lot of hard work, and you still have to play the game. You still have to do the right, little things out there.”
Three of the Canucks’ top players — the Sedin twins and goalie Roberto Luongo — have won an Olympic gold medal (the Sedins in 2006 with Sweden and Luongo in 2010 with Canada), but they all said winning the Cup would be even bigger.
“Both Louie and us played in the Olympic finals and that’s obviously a big game, too, but as a hockey player, this is what you want to win,” Daniel Sedin said. “It’s the toughest thing you can win. You work so hard with your friends and teammates to get to this point. We’re going to enjoy it. Hopefully we can put a better game on the ice tomorrow and we’ll be fine.”
“They’re both unbelievable, but very different,” Luongo added. “The Olympics is a very short tournament. This is a two-month grind, probably one of the hardest things we’ve ever had to do. In the end, if you come out on top, it’s the most rewarding thing that you can probably do as an athlete.”
|Roberto Luongo doesn’t want to talk about Tim Thomas anymore||06.12.11 at 2:57 pm ET|
Roberto Luongo has certainly created quite the buzz these last few days. After the Canucks’ 1-0 win in Game 5, he took a jab at Tim Thomas by saying Maxim Lapierre‘s game-winning goal would’ve been an easy save for him because he would’ve been in his crease. Then on Saturday, Luongo complained that Thomas hasn’t said anything nice about him while he’s been pumping Thomas’ tires all series.
Maybe Luongo got bored with all the back-and-forth, or perhaps someone told him it was best not to say anything else, because on Sunday Luongo said he was done talking about his comments on Thomas.
“I know we’re in the Stanley Cup Final and everything is under the microscope and going to get blown out of proportion,” Luongo said when asked if he regretted making those comments. “My whole comment, I don’t think was a negative comment.
“But at the end of the day, I’m one win away from winning the Stanley Cup, and that’s all I really care about right now. All that other stuff is noise to me and doesn’t really affect what’s going to take place for me tomorrow night. To be honest with you, I don’t really care.”
Canucks forward Christopher Higgins agreed with Luongo that the media has made too much of everyone’s comments.
“Certain little things are blown way, way out of proportion and way over-analyzed,” Higgins said. “I think that’s been the case for a lot of things that have gone on this series.”
|Ryan Kesler gets maintenance day||06.12.11 at 2:35 pm ET|
There has been plenty of suspicion this series that Canucks forward Ryan Kesler is playing with some sort of injury. The Conn Smythe candidate has been hit hard a number of times and hasn’t looked 100 percent the last few games. The injury theory gained a little more traction Sunday when Kesler, who ranks second on Vancouver with 19 postseason points, wasn’t on the ice for practice.
As expected, though, coach Alain Vigneault wasn’t going to divulge any information about a possible injury. Maintenance days are very common, so the coach assured Kesler’s absence was just that.
“He’s fine,” Vigneault said when asked about Kesler’s absence. “Just giving him a day off, that’s all.”
Defenseman Dan Hamhuis, who has missed the last four games after injuring himself on a hip check in Game 1, was also absent from practice. It appears unlikely that he’ll be back for Game 6.
|Tim Thomas has isolated himself from the outside world||06.09.11 at 2:42 am ET|
All series long, Tim Thomas has ignored everything the Canucks have said about his style of play. After Game 2, he ignored critics who questioned how often he leaves his net. Interestingly enough, Thomas has also ignored fans and media who have lauded him throughout the playoffs.
When asked about his relationship with Boston and the love fans have for him, Thomas gave an interesting answer.
“I’ve been so focused on playing in the playoffs that I’m a little bit removed from what’s happening inside the city right now,” Thomas said.
That isn’t to say Thomas doesn’t care about Bruins fans or anything like that. He just doesn’t want anything interrupting his focus on the games.
“I felt that it was the best way to approach these playoffs and the Final,” Thomas said. “The best way to keep my feet on the ground is to kind of isolate myself. That’s what I’ve kind of done. I’ve stayed away from reading the media and watching the media and stuff like that.”
When asked if isolating himself like that has helped him get into a zone this series, Thomas said it certainly hasn’t hurt.
“I felt like that for a lot of this year, to be honest with you,” Thomas said. “I have felt good in the Final so far. I’m just going to keep doing the same thing that I’ve been doing to try to have the same success that I’ve had.”
Instead of soaking in the accolades and acclaim during what little free time he has, Thomas is soaking in the sun.
“Spend some time with my kids. Spend some time by the pool with this nice weather that we’ve had,” Thomas said. “That’s really about all we’ve had time for. It isn’t like we’ve had a ton of time at home.
“My little boy is trying to get me to play hockey. I’m like, ‘I’m a little bit too tired. Wait till this summer.’ ”
It’s safe to say Thomas’ son would be OK with the wait if dad can get two more wins.
|Henrik Sedin offers up more complaints about Tim Thomas’ play||06.09.11 at 12:48 am ET|
What the Canucks lack in goals against Tim Thomas, they make up for with talk about him. Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault and his players have had plenty to say about the Boston netminder all series. It started out in Vancouver when Vigneault questioned whether or not Thomas was entitled to ice outside his crease, and whether or not he should be allowed to have a clear path back to the crease. Vigneault said the refs were being too lenient by letting Thomas set up outside his crease, despite the fact that the NHL rulebook says a goalie is allowed to do that.
Then after Game 3, several Canucks players questioned whether or not Thomas’ check on Henrik Sedin was legal. The complaints about Thomas wandering from his crease continued as well.
So it should come as no surprise that the Canucks once again chimed in on what Thomas can and can’t do after Wednesday’s Game 4. This time the grievances were the result of a scrum late in the third. Alexandre Burrows slashed Thomas’ stick and leg while the Canucks were on the power play, so Thomas slashed him back. Burrows responded with a cross-check on Thomas and a scrum ensued.
Henrik Sedin, however, either didn’t see Burrows’ initial slash or he simply chose to ignore it, because he said after the game that he fully expects the refs to pay more attention to Thomas’ antics next game.
“I’m sure the referees are going to take a look at that and look for it next game,” Sedin said. “It’s not the first time it happened and it’s not going to be the last time. I think the referees are looking at the same tape that we are.
“They’re going to do that for sure. They’re going to look at those tapes and they’re going to see what goes on with [Zdeno] Chara and Thomas in front, and they’re going to have to call those. It’s not going to continue.”
When asked to respond to everything the Canucks are saying about him, Thomas said he’s not worried about what they’re saying.
“I don’t think it was ever an issue to begin with,” Thomas said. “I think it was made an issue by the people that were talking about it. But in reality, it was never an issue.”
As for his slash of Burrows Wednesday night, Thomas offered a drastically different account than that of Sedin. Thomas said it was the Canucks who were doing the agitating all night and not getting called for it.
“They’d been getting the butt end of my stick, actually,” Thomas said. “They did it a couple times on the power play in the first period, also. … That was like the third time that [Burrows] hit my butt end on that power play. The game was getting down toward the end, so I thought I’d give him a little love tap and let him know, ‘I know what you’re doing, but I’m not going to let you do it forever.’ “
|Ice conditions could be a factor in Game 4||06.08.11 at 2:09 pm ET|
Combine temperatures in the 90s with Tuesday night’s Glee concert and there will naturally be questions about the ice conditions heading into Wednesday night’s Game 4. Players on both sides said the playing surface was a little soft during morning skate, leading to pucks ending up on their edge or taking bad bounces.
Canucks forward Alexandre Burrows didn’t hold back at all when asked about the ice.
“It was terrible this morning,” Burrows said. “And it was sloppy last game. I’m not sure if the concert had anything to do with it.”
Bruins players said it wasn’t quite that bad and that they didn’t expect it to be a huge factor in the game. Rich Peverley said everyone just needs make sure their passes are hard enough to reach their destination, while Johnny Boychuk noted that players will definitely need to take extra care of the puck.
“It’s not too bad,” Boychuk said. “We did it in Tampa Bay, where it’s hot. It’s about the same conditions as that. You just have to play it safe, I think. You can’t really take too many chances, because when you do, it’s probably going to end up in the back of the net.”
Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault also downplayed the impact the ice could have on the game, pointing out that both teams will have to deal with it.
“The ice is the same for both teams,” Vigneault said. “Throughout the season, teams play sometimes on real good ice and sometimes on ice that is not as good. I think it will get better, though, as the day goes on.”
Claude Julien said he didn’t think there were any issues with the ice, and even cracked a joke when asked about it.
“I know I was flying. I don’t know if you guys noticed,” Julien said. “It was very good. They made some adjustments to this building. I think it’s been some great adjustments. To me, the ice looked really good. I think the guys were pretty pleased with it last game as well.”
|Bruins know they can’t get carried away with going for shorthanded goals||06.08.11 at 1:17 pm ET|
The Bruins have done a great job shutting down Vancouver’s power play this series, as they’ve held the league’s best man advantage to a 1-for-16 showing. Not only did they keep the Canucks scoreless on their eight power plays in Game 3, but the Bruins netted a pair of shorthanded goals — one from Brad Marchand and one from Daniel Paille.
On Wednesday, Paille said it’s important for the Bruins penalty killers to not get caught up in trying to score while shorthanded. He said they can’t force plays that could result in them being caught out of position.
“I don’t think that was the plan,” Paille said of being aggressive and getting shorthanded goals. “I think it obviously turned out that way, and we just kind of went with it. Fortunately it helped us in the end. It has cost us in the past, so we don’t want to do that too much.”
Marchand, who tied for third in the NHL with five shorthanded goals during the regular season, agreed with Paille and said the key for him is to just take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves.
“I just think a lot of it’s luck, a lot of lucky bounces,” Marchand said. “You get opportunities if the pucks hops over sticks and you get breakaways and stuff like that. If you saw a lot of the goals I scored shorthanded, they’re very fluky, pucks popping up behind the net in open cages. So a lot of it’s just lucky bounces.”
As far as Paille goes, Claude Julien said he’d be happy if him and linemate Gregory Campbell just keep doing what they’ve been doing. The duo has made a formidable penalty-kill unit all season for the Bruins.
“We’ve liked them there since the start of they year. They’ve been great penalty killers,” Julien said. “When Dan is skating, he does a really good job pressuring the D and makes it hard for them to break out cleanly. Certainly his speed is great. Turnovers and scoring opportunities as well.
“Gregory has been a great penalty killer because he’s willing to block shots. You get a second and third effort from him all the time. Those guys have been really good for us. Whenever they didn’t get an opportunity to play much as a fourth line, you could certainly rely on them heavily to help you out through the penalty kill.”
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