|Game 6 countdown, 2 p.m.: Other cities have issues with Vancouver||06.13.11 at 2:02 pm ET|
Boston is not the only city that has an issue with the way the Canucks play the game.
Chicago Tribune writer Steve Rosenbloom wrote an article about the Blackhawks being familiar with the Canucks style of play because they acted the same way when they faced the Canucks in Round 1 of this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs. He notes a few dirty hits that the Canucks laid on the Blackhawks and the league did nothing in response to them.
The Province, a newspaper in British Columbia, recently ran a story about how most of Canada is pulling for the Bruins to win the Stanley Cup because most of Canada hates Vancouver. It says the hate comes from Canadians being jealous of Vancouver because it is a beautiful city and it hosted the Winter Olympics.
The Globe and Mail, a Toronto newspaper, had a story saying that the Canucks have become the NHL’s most hated team. The story examines the way the Canucks have reached the Stanley Cup finals and the way they have played the series. It also includes a quote from Oilers defenseman Ryan Whitney, who said, “This team is so easy to hate, it is unbelievable. … I’d say that 90 percent of the guys in the league want nothing to do with seeing them win.’
It was a little thing – a little thing that Claude Julien works on often during practice. But on this Monday morning, the small detail of winning faceoffs could have a huge impact on who wins Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals.
Last Friday, in Game 5 in Vancouver, the Canucks found a way to win 34 of 65 draws while the Bruins only won 29 of those 65 one-on-one battles.
While none of them led directly to a goal, it did skew puck possession in Vancouver’s favor as the game progressed.
It’s actually been an area the Canucks have won in nearly every game of this series, including in both blowout wins by the Bruins in Games 3 and 4. But add the faceoffs in with losing puck battles and not getting enough bodies in front of Roberto Luongo and the small things become huge problems – problems the Bruins cannot afford tonight with no margin of error left.
In a close game, losing those battles can be deadly, especially when you’re the Bruins trying to kill one of best power play units in the game. So far, the Bruins have killed 24 of 25 Vancouver power plays.
“I don’t think we would be putting them there if it was just a faceoff thing,” Julien said. “But between Bergeron and Krejci are right-handed shots, and whether one of them is on the half fall, doesn’t really matter. The other one can be on the goal line. Krejci can make some plays from down low and Bergeron can take pucks at the net. We just feel that right now that’s a good scenario for that power play.
“We’ve got [Rich] Peverley who does move the puck well and [Dennis] Seidenberg who can shoot the puck well, we’ve got a good combination there. It’s shown some flashes of being very good, and when it hasn’t, it’s been not because of who you got out there, but what they’ve done. We’ve lost some battles in the last game. Certainly didn’t make some strong passes that were cut off. Vancouver does a great job. They’ve got good sticks on the penalty kill. If we don’t make crisp passes, you end up turning it over.”
The same goes for Vancouver.
“We have to bring our ‘A’ game and play the right way,” said Daniel Sedin. “When we win faceoffs and we have a lot of puck possession, we’re a good team. They’re obviously a good faceoff team so that’s going to be a big thing tonight. If we play the right way, and we play tight the way we did at home, it’s hard to get good scoring chances against us. When we play like we did in Games 3 and 4, we’re going to get some scoring chances but they are too, and that’s not the way we want to play.”
The Eagle-Tribune reported Monday that a Haverhill teenager’s grandfather becoming a Bruins fan right before his passing has paid dividends for the team in the postseason.
“At my grandpa’s wake I placed a ticket stub from the Dallas Stars game that I attended in February with my dad, my mom and one of my cousins,” 16-year-old Nicky Mangano said. “And since then the Bruins have been doing really well. They came back from 2-0 to win the series in seven games, they swept the Flyers in four, then Tampa in seven, and now they came back to tie Vancouver 2-2.”
Mangano said his grandfather, James Cassidy, started following the Bruins so the two could talk about something to take Mangano’s mind off his grandfather’s failing health. Cassidy, a Red Sox, Patriots and Celtics fan, died on April 14 at age 85.
At Cassidy’s wake, family members placed Red Sox, Celtics and Patriots caps in his casket.
“I was thinking that he didn’t have all the sports, so I added the Bruins ticket stub,” Mangano said.
“On the morning of the funeral, when we were saying our last goodbyes, Nicky tucked in his ticket stub,” said Nicky’s mother, Deborah Mangano. “We all said maybe that will bring the Bruins some good luck.”
“Every time the Bruins win I look up and say, ‘Thanks, grandpa,’ ” Nicky said.
CSNNE Bruins analyst Tony Amonte spoke with the Mut & Merloni show Monday morning. To hear the interview, go the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
Amonte said the key to the Bruins winning Game 6 Monday night is to ‘ride [Zdeno] Chara and [Dennis] Seidenberg.’
‘I think that’s what they’ve done at home is been able to ride those two defensemen, their top D pair,’ Amonte said. ‘They don’t get scored on much, and they help you out, create a lot of offense for the Bruins.’
Amonte said that a key to the offense is getting Tyler Seguin more minutes, especially on the power play.
‘Seguin’s a guy that could break the game open,’ he said.
‘You have to play the odds. You have to put a guy out there you know is going to score a little bit more than another guy.’
While Gregory Campbell is good on faceoffs and penalty kills, Amonte said he lacks the puck control necessary to play in front of the net on power plays.
‘If you can’t get control of the puck and you can’t get it set up, you’re never going to see a net-front guy,’ Amonte said, adding: “That second unit just never had the ability to get the puck, settle it down, and establish a net-front presence.’
“We’ve had our back up against a wall a few times and I think that we’ve performed well under those circumstances. I think a lot of guys feel like this is another opportunity to go out there and prove ourselves and seize the moment,” Ference said.
Ference and the Bruins have faced elimination twice in the playoffs so far, winning both games on home ice by one goal, including Game 7 against Montreal in overtime in the first round.
“It doesn’t sound right but we’ve been here as a team,” Ference said. “Obviously, the Cup is on the line tonight but I think we felt like that against Montreal when we were down. Against Philly, there was such focus on getting back and Tampa went to Game 7. We’ve had our back up against the wall a few times and I think we’ve performed well under those circumstances.”
For Ference, this is his second time in a Game 6 of the Cup finals. Back in 2004 – with Calgary – the Flames were just one win away and could’ve clinched with a win on home ice. But instead, the Lightning survived and forced a Game 7, one which Tampa Bay prevailed, 2-1.
“Second time around is easier,” Ference said. “I remember the first time with Calgary mostly your mind gets pretty busy. But also, I was in a different situation. I was up 3-2 with Calgary so the mind works in different ways. But this time is a little easier.”
Ference – like every Bruin – will look to feed off the sizable energy in the Garden, a place the Bruins have outscored the Canucks, 12-1, in two blowout wins in Games 3 and 4.
“The city’s excited,” Ference said. “It’s been a long run and lots of ups and downs and crazy stuff but obviously, everybody can smell a finish coming up soon and wants us obviously, to continue the story fro another game.”
Stanley Cup finals play-by-play announcer Doc Emrick checked in with the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to offer his thoughts on Game 6. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Emrick picked the Bruins to win Monday night.
‘I think the more desperate team stands to win,’ Emrick said, adding: “The memory of Boston games here against Vancouver is a pretty strong and emphatic one. These were not close games. All three of the ones in Vancouver were one-goal games. So, I fully expect, I would not be shocked to look back at Vancouver for a Game 7.’
Emrick added that Game 7s are a ‘dice roll.’
‘Pawtucket could beat the BoSox in a Game 7,’ he said. ‘You get a couple of breaks, and all of a sudden you’re in there and you’re winning a game. The Bruins have been the underdogs the whole series, and there’s nothing says they can’t win a Game 7. I think they will win this one tonight, but there’s nothing that says they can’t take a seventh.’
Emrick said that plays like Alex Burrows‘ bite and Aaron Rome‘s illegal hit, regardless of how dirty they might have really been, have been useful in generating fan support for the Bruins.
‘You don’t have to stretch too far to find villains in this one compared to others,’ Emrick said. ‘I think the nature of the fouls and the grievances are the thing that make it unique compared to others. We haven’t had this many penalty minutes in a finals series in over 20 years.’
NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley called in to the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to talk about the Stanley Cup finals and Game 6. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Brickley said that despite Vancouver’s home-ice domination during the Stanley Cup finals, the Canucks certainly aren’t going to sit back Monday night and wait to play Game 7 back home.
‘They want to end this thing tonight, because anything can happen in Game 7,’ Brickley said. ‘And you don’t know how you are going to come out of Game 6 in terms of your health.’
The Bruins, meanwhile, must counter with the determination to prevent the Canucks from celebrating on their ice.
‘Not in our building, not in our house, not at the Garden,’ Brickley said. ‘They do not win a Stanley Cup on here on our ice in front of our fans.’
‘I think there’s a hint of jealousy in what he’s saying about Tim Thomas,’ Brickley said.