|Game 6 countdown, noon: Tim Thomas in line for Conn Smythe?||06.13.11 at 11:59 am ET|
Even if the Bruins lose Game 6 Monday night, there is speculation that Tim Thomas will win the Conn Smythe trophy as playoff MVP. At Canada’s Sportsnet website, Ian Mendes writes that he’s hearing from fellow media members Thomas is the favorite, but he makes a case for Thomas’ counterpart, Roberto Luongo. The premise of his argument is that Luongo had bad games in Boston when the Canucks were going to lose anyhow, so ignore those games and focus instead on how well he’s played in the rest of the playoffs.
♦ The Toronto Star has five questions for Game 6, including the question: Which Bruin will step up and replace the clutch scoring of Nathan Horton? The last question, which will not sit well with Bruins fans, is: If the Canucks win, who will be the first players to handle the Stanley Cup?
♦ Following a relatively tame series against the Lightning, the Bruins have had no shortage of villains step forward for the Canucks. In the National Post, Sean Fitz-Gerald recaps and analyzes the controversy from the finals.
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.”
Brickley said that Roberto Luongo’s trash-talking Tim Thomas was a case of “a guy that’s a little bit immature when it comes to dealing with the media.”
“I think there’s a hint of jealousy in what he’s saying about Tim Thomas,” Brickley said.
NESN Bruins analyst Barry Pederson joined the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to discuss the Stanley Cup finals. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Pederson said he was surprised at the Bruins’ inability to match the Canucks’ intensity in Game 5 Friday night.
“Momentum has been funny this series,” Pederson said. “The Bruins had momentum going out to Vancouver and I thought let Vancouver off the hook. They didn’t make [Roberto] Luongo‘s life very difficult. They had four power plays, and all they needed was just even one to get some momentum. Vancouver, to me, was the far more desperate hockey club, outhitting and taking the play to the Bruins.”
Asked about Luongo’s comments regarding Tim Thomas, Pederson said Luongo may have been affected by all the pressure he faced going back to Vancouver and felt a little smug after posting a shutout following two routs in Boston.
“Tim Thomas has played spectacular this entire series, every game,” Pederson said. “Win, lose or draw, I think Tim Thomas is going to be your Conn Smythe winner anyway. To me, it was more of [Luongo] was just relieved they had won the game.”
Pederson talked about the Bruins’ matchups — specifically how they try to get defensemen Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg on the ice against the Canucks’ first line — and how it’s affected the attack.
“I think they work so hard at trying to get that, I think sometimes it takes away from your offense,” Pederson said. “If they’re able to win tonight, which I expect, then I would think maybe they may try to change things up a little bit [for Game 7] and maybe split Chara and Seidenberg so that one of two of those are on the ice every time.”
Pederson picked Milan Lucic as the key to the Bruins’ offensive success.
“I think that’s going to be the key for the Bruins, is attacking, five-man attack, get the forechecking game going and get the Garden crowd into this thing early on,” he said. “We said it all season long, obviously Thomas is the key in goal, but to me, the key person up front is Milan Lucic. He’s the key that sets the pace for this hockey club. He’s the guy that gets that puck dumped softly into the corner, making the defenseman turn around, and that’s defenseman knows — he can hear him coming — he knows it’s going to be a big hit. And as soon as that big hit happens, the Garden crowd goes crazy, momentum happens and the Bruins can get a team on the run.”
|Bruins-Canucks Game 6 preview: 6 keys, stats and players||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.
|Roberto Luongo doesn’t want to talk about Tim Thomas anymore||06.12.11 at 2:57 pm ET|
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.
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