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With environmental hero in the stands and Stanley Cup at stake, Vancouver best of both worlds for Andrew Ference 06.01.11 at 5:09 pm ET
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VANCOUVER — When players are on the ice, they have to focus on nothing but what’s on the ice. Yet for Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference, he’ll have a pretty big name in the stands Wednesday watching him in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals.

“My best friend lives in Vancouver. My parents will be at the games. Dr. Suzuki is coming tonight with my parents,” Ference said when listing who will be at the game. “My sister is flying out, it’s close for them, and we have people coming down to Boston as well. I think it’s a lot more fun to cheer for the Bruins down there than it is here.”

That Dr. Suzuki he mentioned is Dr. David Suzuki, who is a well-known Canadian environmentalist and hails from Vancouver. Years ago in an interview, Ference said that if he could meet one person, it would be Suzuki. Since then, the two have teamed to create the NHL’s carbon-neutral program and have remained friends.

So it must be pretty cool for Ference, known just as well for his environmental interests as he is for a certain on-ice gesture this postseason, to have Suzuki sitting with his parents as he tries to win the Stanley Cup.

“He’s been to a couple [of my games], and he’s excited. He loves hockey,” Ference said Wednesday. “But I told him not to cheer for us, because he would probably get notched down a couple places in Canadien folklore. I said it’s alright if he cheers for the Canucks, but he might be a neutral party tonight.”

While playing in Vancouver is neat for someone from western Canada, the 32-year-old just considers himself lucky to be playing for the Cup at all. The last time he played in the finals was in 2004, when his Flames fell to the Lightning in seven games.

“I feel really fortunate. It’s my second going to the finals, and both times with the Canadian content. It’s a special thing, and for a Canadian team to be matched up with an Original 6, that’s a really cool opportunity as a player,” he said. “For two great cities with good hockey history to be involved is awesome. The finals is special no matter what, but there’s a couple of little extra sprinkles on top with this matchup.”

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Andrew Ference, Stanley Cup Finals,
Stanley Cup finals predictions at 5:03 pm ET
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It’s no secret that the Bruins enter the Stanley Cup finals as slight underdogs. Predictions from members of both local and national media back that up. WEEI’s John Dennis and Gerry Callahan, three of five ESPN Boston staff members, and three of six Boston Globe staff members are picking Vancouver to take home the cup. Staff at ESPN, Sports Illustrated, USA Today, Yahoo also selected the Canucks to go the distance. To the surprise of no one, only one of 13 Vancouver Sun employees has Boston winning. And now even machines are picking Boston to come up short.

Here is a full list of Stanley Cup finals predictions:

Boston media:

WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan Show: Callahan (5) and Dennis (6) went with the Canucks.

Boston Globe staff: Kevin Paul Dupont (6), Chris Gasper (6)  and Fluto Shinzawa (7) picked the Bruins, while Jim Hoban (5), Dan Shaughnessy (5) and Bob Ryan (7) went with the Canucks.

What they’re saying: Spike in babies named Zdeno [Chara] in Children’s hospital next March.” — Fluto Shinzawa

ESPN Boston staff: James Murphy (6) and Joe McDonald (7) picked the Bruins, while Andrew Brooks (5), Brendan Hall (6) and Adam Jones (5) went with the Canucks.

What they’re saying: “This is probably one of the best possible matchups hockey fans could have asked for in the Stanley Cup finals. Both the Bruins and Canucks bring a little bit of everything: grit, physicality, speed, size, skill, defense and of course goaltending. That’s why I see this series going at least six games, but I believe the Bruins will prevent the series from going back to Vancouver and hoist their first Stanley Cup since 1972 on TD Garden ice.” – James Murphy

Vancouver media:

Vancouver Sun staff (1/12): Yvonne Zacharias (7) picked the Bruins, while Mike Beamish (4), Matthew Black (5), Scott Brown (5), Cam Cole (6), Bruce Constantineau (6), Iain MacIntyre (5), Harrison Mooney (6), Elliott Pap (7), Daniel Wagner (6), Bev Wake (6), Ian Walker (5) and Brad Ziemer (5).

What they’re saying:The Canucks needed seven games to de-claw Blackhawks, put the treads to Preds in six, harpooned the Sharks in five. We see a trend developing. Boston might a have chance if the B’s were still playing on the small ice pad of Boston Garden. Unfortunately, they blew up the Gah-den real good some time ago. [Roberto] Luongo, [Ryan] Kesler, [Henrik and Daniel] Sedin, Conn Smythe Trophy winner [Kevin] Bieksa and the potential emotional return of [Manny] Malhotra will turn the Beantowners into bean paste. Broom time, Boston. Canucks in four.” –Mike Beamish

Canadian National media:

The Canadian Press: Chris Johnston (7) picked the Bruins, while Bill Beacon (6) went with the Canucks.

What they’re saying:Goaltending is a saw-off between two veterans who can be either airtight or leaky from one game to the next. Both have good, gritty third and fourth lines. But the Canucks also have home ice advantage. Boston is better than some give them credit for, but not enough to stop Vancouver from becoming the first Canadian team to win since 1993.” — Bill Beacon

American National media:

ESPN staff: Scott Burnside (6) and Steve Levy (6) picked the Bruins, while John Buccigross (7), Linda Cohn (6), Pierre LeBrun (7), and Barry Melrose (6) went with the Canucks.

The Hockey News: THN went with the Canucks in six games.

What they’re saying: “When we were forecasting our Cup winner while doing our annual THN Yearbook last summer, we chose the Canucks, then changed our minds to the Bruins the next day, then went back to the Canucks the day after that. Indecisive? Yes. Geniuses? Yes again. Vancouver in six.” — THN staff

Sports Illustrated: Darren Eliot went with the Canucks in six games.

What they’re saying: “Outside of Kesler, Bieksa has been the next most vital player for Vancouver. He is a physical blueline presence who has come up with his best when his team has needed it most. Bieksa is a gamer and I say that with the utmost admiration. His big goals, big hits and leadership air that have stood out thus far all have to be in place against the Bruins. If Bieksa continues with his fine postseason, the Canucks have a better than even chance of winning the first Stanley Cup in franchise history.” — Darren Eliot

USA Today: Kevin Allen went with the Canucks in seven games.

What they’re saying: Unless the Bruins can magically transform their power play into a scoring machine, it will be the Canucks in six games.” — Kevin Allen

Yahoo sports: Ross McKeon (6) picked the Bruins, while Nicholas J. Cotsonika (6), Puck Daddy (6), Sam McCaig (5), Matt Romig (6) and  Greg Wyshynski (6) went with the Canucks.

What they’re saying: The Bruins will play them tight, but the Canucks’ depth, special teams and, let’s face it, hockey voodoo will prevail – sending the Bruins to their sixth loss in the Finals since the 1972 Cup; winning the first Cup in Vancouver’s franchise history; and the first for Canada since 1993.” – Greg Wyshynski

Other:

Marc Crawford (Via The Province): The former Vancouver coach picked the Canucks.

Brian Leetch (via SI): The longtime Rangers captain picked the Canucks in six games.

Anonymous Scouts (Via The Province): One scout picked the Bruins in seven games while the other two picked the Canucks, both in seven games.

Read More: Boston Bruins, Stanley Cup Finals, Vancouver Canucks,
Claude Julien says Bruins’ ‘homework is done’ for Stanley Cup finals at 4:34 pm ET
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VANCOUVER — Speaking at the team’s hotel Wednesday, Bruins coach Claude Julien said his team has done all the preparation necessary for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals vs. the Canucks.

The Bruins blanked the Lightning, 1-0, in a Game 7 victory last Friday that figures to be memorable for the team’s nearly flawless and disciplined execution. Julien hopes the B’s can play the same way against Vancouver.

“We talked about it after we won that game. Those are the types of games you have to play in order to win the Stanley Cup,” Julien said. “We’ve obviously proven that we can. Now it’s up to us and do it on a game after game basis. We understand the challenge. We understand what’s at stake. We understand who we’re playing.

“Basically our homework is done. Right now, it’s up to us to go out there and show that we can and believe that we can.”

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Claude Julien, Stanley Cup Finals,
Video game simulator picks Canucks at 2:21 pm ET
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Later Wednesday afternoon, a list of Stanley Cup finals predictions from members of the media in Boston, Vancouver and the rest of the United States and Canada will be posted. However, the most telling pick may come from a machine.

The EA Sports NHL ’11 simulation engine has correctly predicted 13 of the 14 series this postseason. However, those picks were not the engine’s first. It did not pick just a Vancouver-Boston Stanley Cup finals matchup in April. In fact, it picked it before either of these teams even touched the ice for the 2010-11 campaign. This matchup was predicted all the way back in October.

In that simulation, the Canucks took the cup in seven games. Now, EA Sports has predicted results for each game in the series. The Bruins will win Game 3, Game 4 and Game 6 in overtime to send the series back to Vancouver for the decisive finale. Unfortunately for B’s fans, the Canucks are predicted to take Game 7 in 3-1 fashion.

Here is the full Stanley Cup finals prediction:

Game 1: Canucks 2, Bruins 1 (OT)
Game 2: Canucks 4, Bruins 2
Game 3: Bruins 1, Canucks 0
Game 4: Bruins 3, Canucks 2
Game 5: Canucks 4, Bruins 2
Game 6: Bruins 3, Canucks 2 (OT)
Game 7: Canucks 3, Bruins 1

If the simulator continues to see such dramatic success, maybe EA Sports will decide to switch from the video game industry to the gambling industry.

Read More: Boston Bruins, EA Sports, Stanley Cup Finals, Vancouver Canucks
Poll: Who wins Stanley Cup finals? at 1:13 pm ET
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How do you see the Bruins-Canucks Stanley Cup finals series playing out?

  • Bruins in six games (52%, 104 Votes)
  • Bruins in seven games (23%, 46 Votes)
  • Canucks in six games (8%, 16 Votes)
  • Canucks in five games (7%, 13 Votes)
  • Canucks in seven games (3%, 6 Votes)
  • Bruins sweep (3%, 5 Votes)
  • I'm from Tampa; are the Lightning in the finals? (2%, 4 Votes)
  • Bruins in five games (2%, 3 Votes)
  • Canucks sweep (0%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 200

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Read More: Bruins, Canucks, Stanley Cup Finals,
Rich Peverley: ‘Hockey could work’ in Atlanta at 12:14 am ET
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VANCOUVER — Bruins forward Rich Peverley can thank his lucky stars that he is playing in the Stanley Cup finals rather than having to worry about relocation.

The Bruins swung a deal for Peverley and defenseman Boris Valabik on their day of retooling on Feb. 18, though the speedy forward was the centerpiece of the deal that sent Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart to Atlanta. Now, Peverley’s Atlanta teammates officially know that they’ll be playing in Winnepeg next year due to relocation of the team. Peverley said he’s been in touch throughout the process.

“I think a few guys are disappointed,” Peverley. “They really enjoyed the city, but at the same time, they’re going to have to move on, and I think a lot of guys are excited about the opportunity to play in a Canadian market. That’s going to bring a lot of passionate hockey to the city, and I think they’re really excited about that.”

Peverley still has another deal remaining on his contract, so he would have been a part of the team’s relocation unless he was dealt away. He seems clearly disappointed that the franchise with which he played parts of the last three seasons couldn’t stay where it was, but he also understands it.

“I think it’s a tough market if you’re not winning,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of hockey fans there that might be other fans and not necessarily Thrashers fans, so I think hockey could work in that city, but when you make the playoffs one out of 10 years, you put yourself behind the 8-ball a little bit.”

One reason for the relocation you shouldn’t rule out: Perhaps it’s just because the Peverley Hillbillies stopped giving the team their money after Feb. 18.

“I don’t know,” Peverley said with a laugh. “I have no idea [what happened to them].”

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Blake Wheeler, Mark Stuart, Rich Peverley
Maxim Lapierre loves that he’s facing hated Bruins 05.31.11 at 11:29 pm ET
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VANCOUVER — It’s a cliche to say that if one can’t get excited to play this time of year, that they had better check their pulse. Maxim Lapierre‘s pulse is probably berserk right about now.

The 26-year-old Quebec native is realizing a lifelong dream of not only playing in the Stanley Cup finals, but doing so against the Bruins. A childhood of rooting for the Canadiens and five years of playing for the Habs made it so Lapierre could never have anything but negative feelings for the Bruins.

“It’s pretty special,” Lapierre said of facing the Bruins. “Being from Montreal, all my life I was kind of raised to hate them, so it’s unreal. I can’t wait to play tomorrow. It’s going to be a great experience for everybody.”

Lapierre was traded from the Canadiens to the Ducks on Dec. 31 of this season. He didn’t stay there long, as he was dealt to the Canucks after playing 21 games for Anaheim.

Now, he finds himself four wins away from the Stanley Cup. His Canucks eliminated the Sharks in five games in the Western Conference finals, so Lapierre and his teammates had plenty of time to watch the Bruins and Lightning series play out. He admits that at least on some level, he hoped it would be the Bruins who would advance.

“A little bit,” Lapierre said. “It would make it special. It’s really special to play against this team. They’re a great team — well-coached, good players, they’re physical, so we’re going to have a real taste of the Stanley Cup finals.”

Lapierre has had more of a taste of facing the Bruins in the postseason. He was on the 2007-08 Habs team that eliminated the B’s in the first round in seven games, and he was with Montreal when the Bruins swept them the following year.

Though he’s scored some goals \and racked up some penalty minutes in his 35 career games against the Bruins (including the playoffs), when it comes to the B’s, Lapierre may be best known for being the recipient of a cross-check to the head from Milan Lucic in Game 2 of the 2009 quarterfinals. Lucic received a match penalty and was suspended for Game 3 of the series.

“Tomorrow is a new day. It’s the playoffs. Everybody wants to play their role,” Lapierre said about facing Lucic in the postseason again. “We know Milan is a great player. He’s strong, he’s physical. He’s going to be in our face and he’s going to be ready to play, and so are we.

“That’s part of the game, and I understand that. He’s playing a great role for this team. He’s a good player, and he’s going to be there tomorrow like a warrior and the same thing for our guys. Everybody’s going to be ready. It’s the Stanley Cup finals.”

While Lapierre no longer dons a Canadiens jersey when he goes to work, his Montreal ties remain as strong as ever as he and the Canucks try to take down the Bruins. Lapierre knew he’d be getting support from his loved ones anyways, but when the Bruins are the opponent, it makes it even sweeter.

“A lot of people from Montreal are behind us now, but it won’t be easy at all,” Lapierre said. “This team is unreal. We’re going to have to be ready from the first shift to the last one.”

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Maxim Lapierre, Milan Lucic, Stanley Cup Finals
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