|Game 7 countdown, 5 p.m.: Compilation of Game 7 predictions||06.15.11 at 5:15 pm ET|
Vancouver left winger Daniel Sedin already gave his Stanley Cup finals Game 7 prediction, in the form of a guaranteed victory in an interview with the Vancouver Sun. He has since said he wasn’t guaranteeing anything. Now, with the decisive contest just a few hours away, predictions are popping up across the web left and right.
Despite numerous statistics that appear to give Vancouver the edge at home, the picks are split fairly evenly. Below is a list of various predictions for Wednesday’s Stanley Cup finals Game 7.
WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan (audio):
Gerry Callahan: Bruins 3-2 in overtime
John Dennis: Bruins 2-1
Jon Meterparel: Bruins 4-1
Yahoo! Sports’ PuckDaddy blog (audio):
Greg Wyshynski: Canucks
Wyshynski initially had Vancouver winning the series in six games, and he’s still leaning toward the Canucks. “I’m sticking with Vancouver,” he said during an appearance on Mut & Merloni Wednesday morning. “I think this is one of those series where the home team holds serve throughout the entire thing. They’re a different team when they play out there.”
Daren Eliot: Canucks
Sportsnet Radio The Fan 590 (audio):
Damian Cox: Bruins
Scott Burnside: Bruins 5-2
ESPN Radio (audio):
Barry Melrose: Vancouver in a low scoring contest
Bob Condor: Canucks 2-0
Dave Lozo: Canucks 3-2
Corey Masisak: Canucks 3-2
Shawn Roarke: Bruins 3-1
Dan Rosen: Bruins 2-1
Rosen: “The prevailing opinion is that Tim Thomas has already won the Conn Smythe Trophy. He’ll lock it up with another stellar performance in Game 7. The Canucks strike first, but Boston answers quickly and hometown boy Milan Lucic wins it with a goal in the third period. Thomas shuts the door on the Canucks’ hopes for their first Stanley Cup by making another 30-plus saves to set the record for most saves in a Stanley Cup Final. He will finish the Final allowing only 9 goals in seven games. All that gets left to the imagination is what Lucic will do with the Cup when he brings it back to Vancouver for his day of glory this summer?”
And finally, the younger vote:
VANCOUVER — Here’s one to chew on.
A Twitter joke turned serious Bruins superstition was shut down as the B’s traveled to Vancouver hoping to have Lady Luck on their side. Unfortunately for them, Canadian customs stepped in the way.
To those who aren’t on Twitter, the “#pretzel” hashtag has become a bit of an inside joke among Bruins fans during games, given that the team has won every game this postseason in which the media has been served hot pretzels — a perfect 8-0 record dating back to Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
It all started in Philadelphia. The Flyers serve pretzels shaped in the team’s logo, and with the B’s taking the first two games of the series, the B’s didn’t need to go back after sweeping the series.
Pretzels did not make another press box appearance until Game 2 of the conference finals, with the B’s trailing the Lightning by a game at TD Garden. The B’s would take Game 2, and after a tweet about the team winning all three games in which the media had been served pretzels (it was the first time all season that pretzels were served to the press at the Garden), the Bruins — coincidence or superstition — served them for Games 5 and 7, both of which they won.
Then came Games 3, 4 and 6 of the Stanley Cup finals. All pretzel nights, all wins. The Bruins even provided WEEI.com with a pretzel prior to Game 2 in Vancouver, but given that pretzels technically weren’t served to the entire media, it didn’t take.
Well, WEEI.com learned Wednesday that the Bruins actually attempted to bring pretzels from Boston to Vancouver for Game 7 of the finals, hoping to once again make it a “#pretzel” night and a Bruins victory. The plan hit a comical snag, as the pretzels (they had sent a dozen) were seized by Canadian customs and did not make their way to Vancouver.
The Bruins have certainly gone to a lot of trouble to try to win, but the pretzel days are officially over. Looks like they’ll have to make their own luck on the ice.
The Bruins and Canucks have had six games to get accustomed to one another, but little can prepare a player for his first crack at Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals. In fact, it’s only happened 15 times.
But both Boston and Vancouver have one player who’s been there before, although Andrew Ference and Raffi Torres came up empty-handed.
In 2004, Ference’s Flames took the Lightning to seven games but dropped the deciding matchup on the road, 2-1.
“In your whole career, you’re not going to get too many shots to do it,” Ference said. “Just to get in the final is a treat … I had all the motivation last time as well, sometimes it shakes out the right way for you and sometimes it doesn’t. Everybody knows the stakes but big games are still the same and the pressure remains as well.”
Torres chance came in 2006 with the Oilers, who made an unprecedented run to the finals as an eighth seed. He assisted on Edmonton’s only goal in Game 7, a 3-1 loss to the Hurricanes in North Carolina.
Torres likes his chances much better this year.
“[In Vancouver], we’ve played the right way,” he said. “We put ourselves in a great position all year long to play this way. We feel confident, we’re happy to be home, and it’s going to be good.”
|Bruins have one last chance to get traffic in Vancouver||at 3:40 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — The Bruins had no problem addressing the elephant in the province Wednesday.
The Bruins don’t play well in British Columbia (specifically Vancouver) — at least they haven’t thus far in the Stanley Cup finals. They’ve been sound defensively for the most part, and Tim Thomas has turned in the same type of dominance he’s turned in (three goals against in three losses) anywhere else. Yet the team hasn’t been able to create traffic and set up shop in front of Roberto Luongo, limiting their close-range chances and handing the Vancouver goaltender a pair of easy shutouts.
“It seems like we haven’t brought our physical game here to Vancouver,” native Milan Lucic said. “If we can just focus on that and moving our feet, kind of just playing more of a relaxed game … It feels like we’ve been tense the last three times that we’ve played here, so if we can do that I like our chances.”
It was interesting that Lucic admitted to playing tense, as it’s seemed clear that the Bruins’ offense has seemed to be just that on the Rogers Arena ice. If there’s any time for them to break out of it, it’s now.
“I don’t think that we’ve had our best games out here,” Chris Kelly said Wednesday, “so hopefully tonight we can correct that and come out and play our best game.”
It’s been a breeze for the Bruins when it comes to getting in close when playing at home. So why, in Vancouver, have the Canucks been able to box them out as well as they have? And why, in turn, have the Bruins seemingly bought into the mirage that is a stronger Vancouver defense at home?
“I think [it's been] a bit of both,” Kelly said of whether it’s been the Canucks’ defense or the Bruins’ offense that is to blame for Boston’s lack of traffic in British Columbia. “Give them credit. They’ve done a good job boxing us out, preventing us from getting to the front of the net, but I think we need to battle a little harder and find ways to get there.”
If the Bruins can’t find ways to battle harder, their season will end in so-close-yet-so-far fashion. Coach Claude Julien has sent a message to the B’s since they closed out Game 6. The message?
“Crash ‘n bang,” Tyler Seguin said. “We made our adjustments, and obviously we want to get up in their face a little bit more. I think last time in their building they took it to us more than [we did to them], and we definitely want to respond with just as much if not more physicality.”
Yes, the Bruins have been a different, weaker animal in Vancouver than they have been in Boston. But when it comes to Wednesday night, they have to be aware that with the Stanley Cup just 60 minutes (or more) of hockey away from being theirs, they have to look at it as one game to shine, rather than the fourth game of a rough Vancouver experience.
“That’s kind of why we think it’s a different mindset tonight,” Seguin said, “because it’s just one game.
|Canucks fan offers tickets for Tim Thomas kidnapping||at 3:13 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — Check out this post to go up on Vancouver’s Craigslist. Looks like this fan is willing to go “Celtic Pride” style on Tim Thomas Wednesday night.
The Vancouver police expect about 100,000 energized hockey fans to be in the city for Game 7. As they did during the 2010 Olympics and on Monday, when 35,000 Canucks fans gathered to watch Game 6 in Boston, the police have announced that alcohol sales will not be allowed after 4 p.m by anyone in the downtown core of Vancouver, according to Time.com.
“It is common sense,” said Vancouver Police Constable Lindsey Houghton. “If you don’t put liquor in peoples’ hands, the potential for liquor-related violence is less.”
The Vancouver Police Department and the South Coast BC Transportation Authority Police issued close to 3,000 “liquor pour-outs” on the day of Game 5. Postgame riots have been well documented in professional sports. After the Red Sox defeated the Yankees in Game 7 of the 2004 American League championship series, 21-year old Victoria Snelgrove was killed in the celebration.
VANCOUVER — As the minutes tick down and get closer and closer to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals, there is no bigger question mark between either of the teams than Canucks netminder Roberto Luongo.
This series, he’s had an easy time at Rogers Arena, picking up a couple of shutouts in games in which the Bruins’ offense didn’t show up. He’s also shot his mouth off, and when he’s tried to make it better, it’s gotten worse. Then there are the 15 goals he’s allowed in three starts (less than two games’ worth of play given that he was yanked twice) in Boston.
As a result of Luongo’s up-and-down (but overall messy) series, local boy and Canucks backup Cory Schneider has also been popular. He’s gotten to play twice in Boston, and he’s done so well. Yet the former Boston College goaltender and first-round pick seems sure that he’ll stay on the bench the entire game Wednesday.
“Lou is more ready than anybody. He’s had to take the most flak, he’s had to sit there and listen to people mock him and insult him and point fingers at him,” Schneider said. “It’s not easy to do. I don’t care how much you get paid or if you’re a pro athlete or what. No one likes that stuff. It fuels him, it drives him. it makes him want to be better. We’ve seen it before in gold medal games and Game 7′s, he’s answered the bell in big moments. We expect nothing less from him because he’s our guy.”
Schneider received cheers in Games 4 and 6 when he skated to the net in relief. Of course, the love thrown at Schneider in Boston is both a combination of the fact that he’s a native and the fact that when he’s in, Luongo’s out.
“They’re a rowdy crowd and they feed off that stuff,” Schneider said of the folks at the Garden. “They kind of pander to the crowd and get them more riled up every time they show him on the bench. They kind of get whipped into a frenzy about it, but we’re not in Boston right now, so who cares? We’re in Vancouver right now. Lu’s been phenomenal here, and our crowd is great as well. We’re going to hope that they’re going to get on [Boston's] guys and their players and make it easier for us.”
Tonight will see the culmination of a series between two stylistically different goaltenders who have found ways to dominate in their own ways. Both Tim Thomas and Luongo are Vezina finalists, with Thomas set to receive the award at the end of the month. The B’s goaltender also figures to win the Conn Smythe trophy as playoff MVP.
Schneider has been able to observe both goaltenders, as he played at BC while Thomas was tending goal for the B’s. Though he doesn’t know Thomas, Schneider admires the uphill climb he has overcome as a ninth-round pick who has spent time playing in Europe.
“Clearly the path [Thomas] has taken has been one of obstacles and difficulty that he’s overcome and has managed to find a way,” Schneider said. “That kind of seems to be the theme of his game, is that he finds a way. He’s a competitor and a battler, and we’re going to need everything we have tonight to get a few past him and get a win.”
Having said that, Schneider doesn’t feel Luongo, the fourth overall pick in 1997, should be blamed for traveling an easier road.
“I don’t think you can hold it against him that he was a high draft pick or has a great pedigree. He worked hard for that, he earned that right,” Schneider said. “He’s been a competitor and a warrior from the day I’ve met him. He’s one of the most competitive guys I’ve seen. He hates to lose. He hates giving up goals, he hates all that stuff. People might see it as arrogance, but I see it as confidence in himself, as a belief that he shouldn’t be beaten ever. I think you have to have that mindset as a goalie that if you’re not 100 percent confident in yourself, you’re not really in the right position.”
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