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Stanley Cup finals predictions 06.01.11 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,
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
Bruins notes Monday: Claude Julien pumps up the volume and Rich Peverley gets the gold 05.30.11 at 4:55 pm ET
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The Bruins held their final practice before departing for Vancouver in preparation for Wednesday’s opening game of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals at Rogers Arena.

Every player was on the ice – with the exception of defenseman Shane Hnidy – for the 45-minute skate that began at 11:35 and ended with several laps of hard skating around the rink, which was covered in a thin haze of fog by the end of the session. It was the first day back on the ice for several players since winning Game 7 Friday night against Tampa Bay.

“Conditioning doesn’t go bad,” coach Claude Julien said. “We came back on the ice, and then as a whole team, it was obviously a little warm out there today. So, the ice was probably not at its best and it was a tough grind to push through this practice today, which I think is not a bad thing because we might as well get used to it.

“That’s what the buildings are like on game nights. I thought we pushed ourselves pretty good today and did a little bit of sprints at the end to make sure we raise the volume, if you want, and [Tuesday] hopefully, we’ll be really good and flying out there in Vancouver and getting ready for Wednesday.”

Shawn Thornton took shifts on the fourth line with Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell, otherwise known as the “Merlot” line.

“They don’t get the same amount of ice time those others do,” Julien said. “And with Thorty not having played, I think it was important for them to get a regular turn at practice. And those other guys play a lot. Whether it’s Mark who we like to give a rest at times, or Bergy, who plays a lot, we kind of rotate through that. I wouldn’t read more into it than it was.”

Wearing a gold sweater, Rich Peverley skated with the regular second-line unit of Patrice Bergeron, Mark Recchi and Brad Marchand.

Julien moved Peverley up to the second shift during Friday’s Game 7 against Tampa Bay, replacing Recchi at times to give the line added speed with Bergeron.

Peverley told WEEI.com’s Scott McLaughlin he’s totally fine with moving from line to line, especially at this time of year.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup, 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Boston Bruins, Claude Julien
Claude Julien won’t touch that Stanley Cup till ‘he’s earned it’ at 2:44 pm ET
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Bruins coach Claude Julien admitted Monday to one of the long-standing traditions of NHL coaches and players who compete in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Julien said he has avoided coming in direct contact with the oldest trophy in North American professional sports and will keep from having his picture taken with it until he’s earned that privilege by winning it.

“I have [avoided the Stanley Cup],” Julien said following the Bruins final skate before departing for Vancouver and Game 1 of the finals on Wednesday. “I’ve seen it in the Hall of Fame in Toronto. I have stayed away from it. And all I said is the day that I even get a picture or touch it will be the day that I’ve earned it. And that’s been my philosophy throughout my career as a coach.”

Julien is coaching in his first Stanley Cup finals in eight seasons as a coach, and fourth in Boston.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Finals, 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Boston Bruins, Claude Julien
Bruins fans agree: ‘We want the Cup!’ at 2:12 pm ET
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Approximately 2,000 raucous fans attended a rally outside TD Garden to send off the Bruins as they left for Vancouver and the opening of the Stanley Cup finals on Wednesday night in British Columbia.

Fans chanted “We want the Cup!” over and over as players and coaches signed autographs before hopping on charter buses for Logan Airport and a cross-continent, six-hour flight to Vancouver.

“I just wanted to support the team,” said Mike Cifrino of Hingham. “Bring back the Cup.”

Reminded that Vancouver won the President’s Trophy for posting the best record in the regular season, Cifrino said that doesn’t change his expectations for a close series.

“Some hard-fought games,” he added. “It’€™s going to be a defensive game, I think.”

Autographs weren’t the main priority for his son but rather getting multi-media opportunities.

“My son got a lot of videos of his favorite players,” Cifrino said. “We just can’€™t wait to have them back in Boston.”

The Bruins play Games 1 and 2 Wednesday and Saturday in Vancouver before returning to Boston for Games 3 and 4 next Monday and Wednesday.

The team held its final skate in Boston at the Garden amidst light fog on the ice before leaving for Vancouver. The team will take part in media day in Vancouver Tuesday, with Game 1 set for Wednesday night at 8 p.m. ET.

WEEI.com’s Scott McLaughlin contributed to this report.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Finals, 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Boston Bruins, Claude Julien
Canucks’ Cory Schneider on M&M: Bruins ‘a tough matchup’ in Stanley Cup finals at 1:00 pm ET
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Former Boston College standout and current Canucks goaltender Cory Schneider joined the Mut & Merloni show Monday morning to talk about the upcoming Stanley Cup finals. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Schneider said that although the Canucks didn’€™t learn all that much about the Bruins from their 3-1 loss in February, what he’€™s noticed most from watching the playoffs is Boston’€™s depth.

‘€œThey have three deep lines, and offensively even their fourth line is effective in what they do,’€ Schneider said. ‘€œOn any given night for them a different guy can step up and be the difference.’€

Schneider also said the Canucks would need to keep track of Milan Lucic and Patrice Bergeron in particular. He called Lucic a ‘€œbig guy who can disrupt a lot of plays and go to the net and create problems.’€ He compared Bergeron with Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler: a multi-talented player who contributes on offense, defense, faceoffs and special teams.

‘€œHe [Bergeron] can really burn you if you’€™re not paying attention,’€ Schneider said.

Schneider also complimented Zdeno Chara‘€™s defense, calling him a ‘€œNo. 1 guy’€.

‘€œHe’€™s got such a long reach that it doesn’€™t matter who you put out against him, he’€™s going to try and find a way to shut them down,’€ Schneider said. He added that the Canucks’€™ Swedish twins, Daniel and Henrik Sedin, might be able to beat Chara.

‘€œYou probably haven’€™t seen anything like them when they’€™re playing down low,’€ Schneider said. ‘€œThey’€™re cycling the puck and they make these soft passes to each other, you have no idea how they made it. It’€™s pretty incredible to watch. That will be a great matchup.’€

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Read More: Boston Bruins, Cory Schneider, Milan Lucic, Patrice Bergeron
Julien: Ference ‘hopefully back soon’ 02.06.10 at 1:22 pm ET
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Bruins coach Claude Julien knows a little experience could go a long way to restoring some order his blue line.

On Saturday, Andrew Ference, who’s been out since Jan. 5 with a groin injury, skated with the team in warmups prior to the tilt with Vancouver. He was scratched and missed his 14th straight game.

“He’s coming along and I think he’s getting better and hopefully we’ll see him back soon,” Julien said “There’s no doubt, I think there’s some experience missing back there and when you don’t have that, to me, a defenseman is like a quarterback on a football team. If you get guys moving the puck well, your offense benefits from it as well.”

The Bruins have lost Ference and fellow veteran defenseman Mark Stuart with a broken pinkie finger. That doesn’t include Zdeno Chara, who is playing with a bad pinkie himself that will likely require surgery after the season.

With the two blueliners out and Chara hurting, the Bruins have had to rely more heavily on second-year defenseman Matt Hunwick and rookie D-men Adam McQuaid and Johnny Boychuk.

“We’ve got Hunwick, who’s in his second year, and then we’ve got two guys who are in their first year, so we’re lacking a little bit of experience back there, there’s no doubt,” Julien added. “But that’s not to take away anything from the guys who are in their first year. They’ve done a great job for us.”

So what the Bruins didn’t need was another injury to a defenseman – and a scary one at that. A bloodied Boychuk took a shot to the left side of his face from Mikael Samuelsson midway through the first and had to be helped off the ice by Blake Wheeler and Chara.

Read More: Andrew Ference, Boston Bruins, NHL, Vancouver Canucks
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