|Bruins-Canucks Game 6 preview: 6 keys, stats and players||06.13.11 at 4:03 am ET|
The Bruins are playing in either their last game or second to last game Monday. Either way, it will be the finale at the Garden as the B’s look to fend off elimination and force a Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals, which would be played back in British Columbia. Here’s the preview of Monday’s contest.
SIX THINGS THE BRUINS NEED TO DO
- Make it about quality, not quantity: Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo has faced 30 or more shots in each of his shutouts in the finals, and both of those blankings have been cakewalks. The Bruins need to establish a physical presence, create traffic and get in front to beat the Vezina finalist.
- Don’t let the Cup make an appearance: Everyone knows the Stanley Cup will be in the house Monday night, but the Bruins’ worst nightmare has to be watching Alexandre Burrows, Luongo and the rest of the perceived bad guys skate around with it on their ice.
- Remember their Game 6 experience: It’s as cliche as it gets to say that the last win is the hardest in a series, but the Bruins should know. Both the Canadiens and Lightning didn’t let the Bruins storm into their home and eliminate them, so the B’s will need the same desperation that beat them in those games.
- Remind everyone of Games 3 and 4: The Bruins were able to make things very difficult for the Vancouver defense and Luongo in the two games here, but Vancouver tightened back up defensively back at Rogers Arena, while the B’s stiffened up offensively.
- Give Tyler Seguin time on the power play: It’s the one place he won’t be afraid of getting hit and can focus just on using his talent. The B’s went 0-for-4 on the man advantage Friday in Vancouver, with Seguin getting only 12 seconds on the power play.
- Use Zdeno Chara in front on the power play: It may not have yielded results the last time around, but it’s worth using from time to time. If the Bruins can’t even get set up as it is, can it get much worse?
- The Bruins have won nine of their last 10 home games dating back to Game 5 of the quarterfinals.
- Dennis Seidenberg‘s only goal this postseason came in Game 6 of the quarterfinals, and it was Boston’s only goal in the 2-1 Canadiens win.
- Though David Krejci leads the NHL with 22 postseason points, he’s only registered points in a loss twice. His hat trick in Game 6 of the conference finals made for three of the four points in games the Bruins have dropped this postseason.
- Despite missing two games due to a concussion, Patrice Bergeron leads all Bruins with 62 shots on goal this postseason.
- Henrik Sedin has gone five straight games without a point for the first time since the 2007 postseason. He had two such stretches in 12 games in those playoffs. The last time he went six games without a point was from Nov. 29-Dec. 20, 2003.
- Daniel Sedin has gone three straight games without a point three times this season, including once in the playoffs. He has not going four games without a point since Feb. 4-11 of the 2009-10 season.
SIX PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON
Milan Lucic: After not showing up in Game 5, Lucic has to have the best game of his life Monday. If something is ailing him, then it’s commendable that he’s played through it, but the B’s need their best players to be the best players on the ice. Not having Nathan Horton is bad enough, and the B’s not be able to survive with another zero-shot performance like Friday’s.
Brad Marchand: The rookie needs to be the royal pain he’s been all season, and he also needs to come out flying the way he did when he dominated Game 4. It had seemed he was on a roll with goals in two straight games, but apparently Rogers Arena is where any positive Bruins trend goes to die. Marchand has three shots on goal over his last three games, though two have gone in.
Tim Thomas: It’s hard to ask any more of Thomas, who it seems will be getting the Conn Smythe Trophy. He’s allowed six goals in the finals and could conceivably lose the series having allowed just seven goals in seven games.
Alexandre Burrows: The refs shouldn’t look at any plays involving this guy based on his diving. It seems the refs looked the other way with Burrows got cross-checked by the net.
Raffi Torres: The third-liner has three shots on goal this series, but one of them went in to seal Game 1 for the Canucks. He has two assists in the last three games.
Roberto Luongo: The mechanic himself did not have success the last time he was at the Garden, and he might need to show up big after letting up 12 goals in Games 3 and 4. If Luongo were to clinch the Cup for the Canucks with a shutout Monday, that would be quite remarkable given that it would be his third this postseason.
|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 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.”
With all that’s been made of the way Roberto Luongo has spoken about Tim Thomas, the biggest question is why Luongo’s doing it. Is he playfully joking around (as he was — no matter what you hear anywhere else — when he made his pre-series comments about Thomas playing the way he did when he was five years old), or is he intentionally taking jabs at the man who seems a shoo-in to win the Vezina and a safe bet to win the Conn Smythe?
Luongo’s recent comments came as a surprise here to this scribe, as he spent the day before media gushing with praise for Thomas. The talk of him pumping Thomas’ tires is correct, but why then, would he make the punk move of saying he would have saved Maxim Lapierre’s game-winner?
He can’t plead ignorance or claim it as a misunderstanding, as he’s as well-spoken and well-intentioned a guy a media member will deal with. What he says, he means, and it’s hard to imagine Luongo “accidentally” dissing another player when it seems that clear — and especially amongst all the talk of Thomas’ positioning.
One man in the Bruins’ locker room has some perspective when it comes to Luongo’s intentions, and though he claims to have not heard Luongo’s comments, Gregory Campbell said Sunday he can’t imagine his former teammate in Florida talking a mess with any malicious intent.
“I don’t know him as that type of person. I played with him for a year. I’m sure he has a lot of pressure on him as well, and he’s had to face a lot of critics in these playoffs, especially the last couple of games of late. Knowing him, I don’t think that’s his personality, but to be honest, I don’t really care. I don’t think Timmy cares either. It’s not going to affect our hockey club one way or the other.”
Campbell and Luongo played together in the 2005-06 season with the Panthers and briefly the year before, when Campbell played two games.
Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas finally got in on the fun Sunday, providing the media with the closest thing he’ll give to partcipation in a war of of words with Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo. Thomas has allowed a minuscule six goals in five games of the Stanley Cup finals, yet its been Luongo’s opinion of his style that has made the most headlines. After saying he would have saved the Maxim Lapierre shot that won the game for the Canucks in Game 5, Luongo noted Saturday that he has praised Thomas without hearing anything back.
Said Luongo Saturday: “I’ve been pumping his tires ever since the series started. I haven’t heard any one nice thing he’s had to say about me, so that’s the way it is.”
Thomas responded to Luongo’s comments Sunday after the team’s practice, saying that he as a goaltender respects other netminders, though he had some fun with the way he went about it.
“I guess I didn’t realize it was my job to pump his tires,” Thomas said with a grin. “I guess I have to apologize for that.
“I still think I’m the goaltender on the union side and I stick with all the other goalies. In being one and knowing what it takes to perform at this level and with this amount of pressure, I understand to a certain extent what every other goaltender is going through.”
|Maxim Lapierre admits he got a ‘little lucky’||06.10.11 at 11:25 pm ET|
The game-winning goal off the stick of Maxim Lapierre was a “lucky” break by the admission of the man who scored it. Lapierre was positioned to the right of Tim Thomas when he took a pass off the end boards and flipped it off the backside of Thomas. The puck trickled off of Thomas’ pads and dropped over the goal line, providing the margin of victory in Vancouver’s 1-0 win in Game 5.
“I was actually going backdoor for a tip,” Lapierre told Versus in a postgame interview, referring to a pass he was expecting from Kevin Bieksa in front of Thomas. “That was a good play. We got a little lucky but we’ll take it.”
“The puck got across the line by a couple of inches and that was the difference,” added Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault in his postgame press conference.
“I don’t think that was necessarily the play they were going for, from where the guy shot it to where it came out, he was pretty wide,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said of Bieksa’s pass from the right . “Normally, those pucks from where he shot it don’t come out there. Nonetheless, you make your own breaks. I think tonight – as a whole – they were the better team. I think we have to acknowledge that because if we don’t, we’re not going to be a better team the next game.”
Roberto Luongo – who stopped all 31 shots in the shutout – had his own take when asked if making saves like the one that got by Thomas are difficult.
“It’s not hard if you’re playing in the paint,” Luongo said, referring to Thomas’ aggressive approach. “It’s an easy save for me but if you’re wandering out and aggressive like he does, that’s going to happen.”
As for coming out stronger and outhitting the Bruins, 47-27, Lapierre said the Canucks were more in control.
“We played with a little more confidence and were more patient,” Lapierre said on his postgame TV interview. “It was good for us.”
Game 6 is now a must-win for the Bruins back in Boston Monday night. If the Bruins win, Game 7 is back in Vancouver Wednesday night.
Hockey Night in Canada and NHL Network analyst Kevin Weekes joined the Mut & Merloni show Friday morning to discuss the Stanley Cup finals. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
Weekes, a former NHL goalie, spent much of the interview talking about Roberto Luongo and Tim Thomas. Regarding the question of whether Luongo should be starting Game 5, Weekes said he supported the decision to go back to Luongo.
“Roberto’s your No. 1 goalie. I believe you have to give him the chance,” he said. “There’s no question. I believe you’ve got to give Roberto the chance to play. But I will say this: I think it’s going to be a very short leash.”
The Canucks have criticized Thomas for coming out of his crease so far and so frequently. Weekes suggested that Luongo should learn from what Thomas is doing.
“There’s times when you need to be out of the blue paint, you need to face shooters down and be aggressive and take away that angle from them,” he said. “And Timmy Thomas has done an excellent job of that. That’s a real good element of his game.
“Roberto, I think, needs to come out and challenge a little bit more, use his size to his advantage. It’s one thing to say you’re 6-3, but when you’re just a foot above the goal line at 6-3, that’s an awful lot of net for a shooter to see. And if not, your reflexes need to be razor sharp that game and so precise that you leave yourself with no margin for error.”
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