The city of Vancouver, British Columbia is in for a treat. A pivotal Game 5 at the Roger Arena.
When the Canucks left Vancouver, they seemed to have the series under control and was looking to finish this in Boston.
Canuck pride was seen and heard all over Canada as Canadians want to see the Stanley Cup come North of the border but by a team based in Canada, not by a Canadian player in a team based in the U.S.
Game 1 was a nailbiter (pun intended), and it ended in a heartbreaker for the Bruins and some controversy with the biting incident of Alex Burrows on Patrice Bergeron.
While the league did not see sufficiant evidence of the act, there were many, even Canuck fans that say otherwise. The excuse? He should not have put his fingers in his mouth.
The game ended with just 18.5 seconds left in regulation when Raffe Torres scored on an aggressive play by Bruins goalie, Tim Thomas and beat him low right side to give the Canucks the first game.
Game 2 was a bit more interesting. With Burrows not suspended for the bite, he was not only pivotal to the game, but the reason for the win. Burrows scored on the first goal, assisted on the second and got the game winner in just 11 seconds into overtime. The goal was on a bad turnover and play on Thomas' and Zdeno Chara's part to get the wrap around goal and send Vancouver in a frenzy.
This is the Stanley Cup Playoffs where both teams earned their way into the right to play of the Cup and when you make mistakes, expect the other team to jump on it to capitalize.
The game showed more controversey as Canuck forward, Maxim LaPierre mocked Patrice Bergeron by sticking his gloved fingers in front of Bergeron's face in what looked like an invite to bite them. Bergeron didn't seem too amused about it, and there was nothing said and done.
Personally I didn't like the move as it showed poor taste and sportsmanship.
So the series is moved to Boston foro Game Two and the TD Garden was jumping as they got to host an NHL Stanley Cup Finals game for the first time in 21 years.
Shawn Thornton replaced Tyler Seguin as Coach Claude Julien felt that there needed to be a change, and I agreed. The Bruins needed to add more physicality as they did not have the same speed and skill to match the Canucks. They had to get back into that they know. Hard Hitting, Smashmouth Hockey.
The game got an ugly note just past five minutes into the game. Canuck Defenseman Aaron Rome played over aggressively on Bruins Forward Nathan Horton as he was crossing the Canuck blue line, and his shoulder made full contact to the head, causing Horton to whip around and violently strike the ice leaving him motionless on the ice with his arm stiffened to clear signify this was a serious blow to Horton.
The close up showed him breathing in a somewhat labored effort, a sign he clearly got the wind knocked out of him, and the blank stare told me he could very well suffered a concussion.
Rome was ejected out of the game, and Horton was taken off the ice on a stretcher. He was trying to get up before that, but the medical staff and trainer wanted nothing of it and was immediately sent to Mass General. The report was that he did have a severe concussion and was going to follow the NHL protocol. This would put him out of the Finals.
Rome was suspended for the rest of the Finals and that put the Canucks defensive core in a bind.
After the hit, the Bruins had a fire in their belly. They lit up Canuck goalie Roberto Luongo for eight goals in the final two periods and allowed one goal with just over six minutes of play left in regulation. When Canucks Coach Alain Vigneault was asked why Luongo was not pulled after the second period when he allowed four goals, he stated that he asked if Luongo wants to be pulled and Luongo, in no uncertain terms, did not want to hear anything about it.
The Bruins were still stewing on the bite and LaPierre's invitation so Mark Recchi stuck his gloved fingers right in LaPierre's face while later, Lucic was waving his un-gloved fingers in front of Burrow's face while they were being separated in a scrum.
I'll admit I did smirk a little, but after, I stood by what I said. I didn't like it when LaPierre did it, and I didn't like it when Recchi and Lucic did it.
Especially when their coach pubically said that his team is not all about that prior to the game.
He let both players know that it is not needed nor wanted. He stood by his words at the post game press conference.
Game 4 had some changes made due to players missing in both rosters.
For Boston, they moved Rich Peverley up on the first line with David Krejci and Milan Lucic. Tyler Seguin was put in the line up to add more speed.
Keith Ballard was added to replace Rome for the Canucks.
The Bruins seemed to have left off where they ended Game 3, and they lit up Luongo again for four goals this time. Coach Vigneault pulled Luongo and placed backup Cory Schneider between the pipes.
The game got very chippy as there were hits, after whistle scrums and some hacking and slashing by both teams.
I like a message sent to a team, but the Bruins were overkilling it and sending a draft of a novel at them.
And, unlike some other fans out there from both sides, I will call it like I see it. I will freely admit that the Bruins had some liberties, but so did the Canucks. Both teams are hardly without angels in this series.
Burrows, the Sedins and Kesler were all in the Bruins' cross hairs, and they were hit and harassed all night which prevented them from getting only a limited amount of chances. When those chances were there, Thomas shut the door on them.
Now the series is back in Vancouver and the winner of this game will have a shot and ending it in Boston in Game 6, or the series will finish with a Cup winner back in Vancouver for a decisive Game 7.
So what happened? Simply the Bruins have performed very good puck support in Boston. That is what they were not doing so well in Vancouver.
Plus it seems that the Bruins are playing angry but a somewhat controlled angry. That gives them an edge and it sends a message that when you get the puck, you are going to get hit. They are finishing virtually every check. The play makers are getting hit and harassed in every shift and that is frustrating the Canucks. Completely taking them out of their comfort zone.
It's the Stanley Cup Finals...there is no comfort zone. You do what you do to win the game. Want to be a nice guy? Go play tiddly winks. You will not win this game if you play solely by the book. That is a fact. Is it right? No. But it is the reality.
The addition to Shawn Thornton added to the physical play, as well and Seguin adding some speed in the third line and Peverley, who is a very capable forward in with Krejci and Lucic.
The Fore checking and the collapsing to the net has generally kept the Canucks to the outside and allowed Thomas to see the puck well. They have virtually removed the time and space on the Canucks and this has prevented the Sedins, Kesler, anybody from getting some decent scoring chances at Thomas and that allowed him to play that same aggressive play which is what took him to this level.
In short, full team effort.
The Canucks has a depleted defense with Rome and Hamhuis out in this series. Hamuis has not even skated yet, and that leads me to think he will not return for the remainder of the series.
I think Kesler is hurt. No jump at all with him and he is getting frustrated.
The games that the Canucks won were by the skin if their teeth. At Home. It should be an interesting Game 5 to see if they show up tonight.
That said though, this is home ice and teams, and goalies can bounce back. It will be interesting to see how Luongo handles this. If his team doesn't show up for this game, he may be in trouble.
It will be even more interesting to see how the refs handle this given all the outcries. Will they let them play or will they dictate the game?
I leave you with Game 5 and let's enjoy some hockey.
This is Cory Ducey saying, "Hit hard, but keep it clean."
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