|Bruins probably hope second time’s a charm for Andrew Ference||06.14.11 at 11:11 pm ET|
VANCOUVER — Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference may be playing for his first Stanley Cup championship, but Wednesday night in Vancouver won’t be his first Game 7 of the finals. Ference has been one win away from the Cup before, but it wasn’t as memorable an experience as he would have hoped.
Ference and his Flames led the Lightning, three games to two, in the 2004 Stanley Cup finals before Tampa Bay took Game 6 in double overtime to force a seventh game. In that decisive contest, Ference led all Calgary skaters in ice time, but with the Flames trailing, 2-1, in the third period, he took a charging penalty with 1:01. The Lightning held on to seal Game 7 and hoist the Cup at St. Pete Times Forum.
Asked Tuesday at Rogers Arena whether being in another Game 7 with the Cup on the line, Ference wasn’t his generally elaborate self, saying he hasn’t given much thought to the way things panned out last time he got the chance.
“You don’t have to block [the memories] out,” Ference explained. “It was a long time ago. I don’t know. You obviously remember it and stuff like that, but it’s not really on my mind.”
Like the Bruins this year, the 2004 Flames had to deal with a seven-game series more than once. Ference’s squad opened that postseason as the No. 6 seed and defeated the No. 3 Canucks in seven. They then eliminated the Red Wings and Sharks (both in six games), to reach the finals and eventually come one victory away from wining it all.
Coming as close as he did to winning it in ’04 doesn’t give the 32-year-old Edmonton native any more motivation to winning the Cup. Though he’s been so close he could taste it before, he never felt the urge to close out the series was lacking. He just learned the hard way that one team wins, and one team loses.
“I had all the motivation last time as well,” Ference said. “Sometimes it shakes out the right way for you, and sometimes it doesn’t. I don’t think the approach is any different or the desire is any stronger. It’s the same. You just hope that the team that you’re on puts it together.”
Ference, like Mark Recchi, can use their experience in the final game of the postseason to prepare guys who haven’t been there before. The second-pairing blue-liner likes to think he’s helped his teammates get ready for it all year.
“You talk about it all year. You become friends with people on your team,” he said. “It’s not like you just start talking about these things when you’re in the situation. You live together all year and spend so much time together that stuff like that is always talked about.”
After Wednesday night, perhaps Ference won’t have any pointers left to give his teammates. If they’re all Stanley Cup champions, they’ll be on the same page.
|Mason Raymond (vertebrae) out 3-4 months||at 4:08 pm ET|
The Canucks announced Tuesday that forward Mason Raymond sustained a vertebrae compression fracture in his first-period collision with Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals and will be out for three to four months.
Raymond remained on his stomach after the play and was taken to the hospital. He had no points and was a minus-3 in the finals vs. Boston and finished the playoffs with two goals and six assists for eight points and a minus-1 rating.
With Raymond out, forward Jeff Tambellini should return to the lineup after sitting the last three games in favor of Tanner Glass.
|Bruins-Canucks Live Blog: Maxim Lapierre cuts B’s lead to 5-2||06.13.11 at 7:28 pm ET|
Join DJ Bean, Mike Petraglia, Joey the Fish and plenty others from TD Garden for Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals. It’s real simple for the Bruins: win or watch the Canucks hoist the Cup on the B’s ice.
|Expect the unexpected: How about some early scoring?||at 1:51 pm ET|
The scoreboard operator got plenty of work early into games when the Bruins faced the Lightning in the Eastern Conference finals. In fact, 12 first-period goals were scored between the teams in the first five games of the series.
The same can’t be said for the Stanley Cup finals. The three Bruins’ losses have been nail-biters, and in total there have been just two goals scored in the first period. Quite a departure when considering that more goals were scored in the first 69 seconds (three) in the first five games of the conference finals than in the first 20 minutes of games thus far between the B’s and Canucks.
While the Bruins have used their home ice to essentially do whatever they want against Vancouver, the idea that they could be up for yet another close game in which the teams are scoreless in the third period (as has happened twice already) is not out of the question given the stakes.
“You can’t let anything get to you. If they score early, we can’t let it bug us,” Michael Ryder said Monday. “We still have a lot of game left. It’s a matter of us wanting to get that first goal. We need to get that first goal to set the tone. If it doesn’t happen, we can’t let it get to us. I think that’s upper main priority: come out, get the emotions up high early, get the intensity up there. I think if we do that, we’ll get on the scoreboard first.”
The team that has scored the first goal has one each game this series, though in Game 2 there were two blown leads before the final score was decided. Even so, the idea of getting a lead early on would provide this series with some fresh material.
“It definitely gets guys in the game, gets you going when you have the lead,” Ryder said. “When teams play with the lead, you do things a little different, you play a little harder. That’s what we want to do tonight.”
The earliest a goal has been scored in a game this series was 11:59 into Game 4, when Rich Peverley scored the first of four Bruins’ goals.
|Bruins hopeful Nathan Horton will attend Game 6||at 1:28 pm ET|
The Canucks have the Stanley Cup at the Garden for motivation Monday night, and it seems the Bruins will have some less famous inspiration in the house.
Bruins coach Claude Julien said he expects Nathan Horton, who is out for the series due to a severe concussion suffered in Game 3, to be in attendance as the B’s look to prevent elimination in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals. Horton came into the Boston dressing room after the team’s 4-0 victory in Game 4, and has seen teammates here and there since.
“He’s been around,” Claude Julien said, also noting that under no circumstances would Horton be able to make a return to the ice this week. “…If people are looking for miracles, if he’s [in attendance Monday], it will be pretty special. But right now, he’s still dealing with those concussion issues as we speak.
“He popped in quickly this morning just to say ‘hi.’ I have the impression that he’s going to be coming to the game tonight as long as he feels good, and that can vary as the day goes on. I think right now his plan is to hopefully be here tonight.”
Horton had eight goals and nine assists for 17 points in 21 games this postseason, his first playoffs experience. He scored series-clinching goals in Game 7 of both the Eastern Conference quarterfinals and finals.
NBC and Versus NHL analyst Eddie Olczyk made an appearance on the Mut & Merloni show Monday to talk about the Stanley Cup finals. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
The home team has won all five games in this series, and Olczyk indicated he expects that trend to continue Monday night in Game 6.
“I’ve already got my travel [to Vancouver] booked,” he said “So, for what that’s worth, I believe that the Bruins will have a large game tonight. I think the crowd will have a major impact on this game. I think the first goal is very crucial, but I think the Bruins will find a way and I think home ice will stay the course and there will be a Game 7 for all the marbles on Wednesday night back in Vancouver.”
There has been a lot of talk about which team will be more physical. Olczyk said another key is the play in the neutral zone.
“I think the team that has had the greatest success in this series and has really dictated is when they’ve controlled the neutral zone, the area between the two blue lines,” he said. “And I think that’s when the teams are really, really stifled, not only physically, but I think scheme-wise of not allowing either one of these teams to create anything.”
Canucks players have drawn attention for their habit of trying to draw penalties with some acting antics. Olczyk has suggested that referees waive off the initial penalty if a player dives, only assigning a penalty to the player who embellishes.
“I think that’s the way that you’re going to remove the embellishment in the game, if that’s what you want to do,” he said, adding: “When I made that suggestion, the rebuttal was, ‘We can’t get inside the mind of the embellisher.’ ”
Touching on Roberto Luongo‘s comments about Tim Thomas, Olczyk said it was surprising to hear the Canucks goalie talk that way.
“Regardless of how the question posed, you’re better off to be seen and not heard and just say, ‘Look, I’ve got my own issues in goal. I’m worried about how I’m playing. The other guy’s done a great job,’ and move from there,” Olczyk said. “So, I was a little bit surprised. I don’t know if he got caught up in the moment. Because I think Roberto Luongo has matured a lot. I think he’s grown up a lot over the last season-and-a-half, and expectations and what have you.”
|Bruins want to play Game 7, not talk about it||at 12:59 pm ET|
Milan Lucic has faint memories of the 1994 Stanley Cup finals, when his hometown Canucks fell to the Rangers in seven games. Though it was just a week after his sixth birthday, he knows what a Game 7 in Vancouver looks like.
Yet when asked Monday about a Game 7 in Vancouver potentially being played Wednesday, the 23-year-old Bruins winger was in no mood to answer.
“To be honest, I don’t even want to talk about Game 7,” Lucic said, “because Game 6 hasn’t even been played yet.”
Such was the mindset throughout the Bruins’ room Monday. The ultimate goal, at least as it pertains to Monday, is to force a seventh game, but it’s the last thing they want to think about. They know there is danger in overlooking the fact that the Stanley Cup is in Boston waiting to be awarded to the Canucks tonight, so preventing that from happening is far more important than thinking about winning it themselves.
“No. Game 6. It’s Game 6,” Shawn Thornton said when asked about Game 7. “That’s it. Let’s see what happens tonight and then we’ll worry about that after.”
The Bruins have dominated the Canucks at TD Garden in what have been the only two lopsided games of the series. The Bruins’ margin of victory in Games 3 and 4 was 12-1, while all three Canucks’ wins at Rogers Arena have been decided by one goal.
While the Bruins are being motivated by elimination, the Canucks are being motivated by the most coveted trophy in all of sports. For either team to count the other out would be a mistake, and it’s one the Bruins don’t want to make.
“I think it’s clear to our players that all the focus should be about tonight,” Claude Julien said. “If you want to create a Game 7, you have to focus on tonight’s game, not on Game 7.”
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