Vancouver Canucks vs. Boston Bruins: Game 7 News, Analysis and Storylines
VANCOUVER - Is there a more iconic moment in sports than a Game 7?
Combine that with the Game 7 being waged in the Stanley Cup Finals, and we have a situation where legends will be born.
For all its resonance with fans, in its storied history the Stanley Cup has only been awarded 15 times after a Game 7.
Yet it is a situation that happens every day in the minds of fans, especially kids playing hockey with their friends.
"We played a lot of Game 7s in our basements growing up"
Ryan Kesler agreed when speaking with Ben Kuzma of the Province newspaper.
"This is what you grew up playing for. Game 7 in your driveway."
Everyone as a child dreamed of scoring the game winning goal in Game 7 then hoisting the Stanley Cup.
Tonight, someone from the Bruins or Canucks will have a chance to fulfill that childhood dream.
Tonight, playoff heroes and goats will emerge, and the resulting reputations will follow them for the rest of their careers.
Throughout the day and during the game, I'll keep you updated with the latest storylines, news, and analysis from Game 7 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver.
VANCOUVER - Once again, the second period isn't a kind one to the Canucks.
Alex Burrows had a glorious chance on a Zdeno Chara give away, but while he beat Thomas with the shot, Chara redeemed himself by diving into the crease to block the shot.
Despite the referees coming out tonight without their whistles, the players are actually being fairly well behaved. There has been a few after whistle scrums, but nothing compared to the earlier games.
Brad Marchand scored on a wrap around that trickles past Luongo after he made the initial save and forced Marchand into circling behind the net.
Shortly afterwards, Chara is forced into a penalty by the Canucks relentless pressure as they try to have a push back shift.
The Canucks need to get a goal from their power play desperately.
But they don't get it.
Instead, Bergeron scores on a short handed breakaway.
Luongo made the initial save, but Ehrhoff hauled down Bergeron as he was shooting, a delayed penalty, and both players crashed into Luongo, with all three players and the puck ending up in the net.
The goal went to video review, but there wasn't really any reason to call it back. Ehrhoff caused the collision, so the goalie interference wasn't Bergeron's fault.
The crowd was amped up by the power play opportunity with Chara in the box, but after the shorthanded goal they have been deathly quiet, except for booing the referees after the goal was signalled.
It doesn't look good for the Canucks.
A 3-0 deficit despite out shooting the Bruins 21 to 13.
The only glimmer of hope is that Boston gave up a four goal lead against Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference Finals.
A faint hope, but something Canucks fans can cling to going into the third period.
VANCOUVER - Some thoughts and observations from Roger's Arena after the first period.
Mason Raymond is in the arena, after being flown in from a Boston hospital this afternoon.
They showed him on the big screen furring the first TV timeout, and looks like he is wearing Tony Stark's chest plate from Iron Man. But he is standing under his own power, so that's good.
Chants of "Raymond, Raymond!" filled the arena, reminding me of Malhotra's return in Game 2. Can the Canucks thrive off that emotion?
Jannik Hansen took Raymond's spot on the second line, at least to start the game. He and Jeff Tambellini have been alternating on that second line through the first period. Both have looked like a good fit with Ryan Kesler and Chris Higgins.
Johnny Boychuk, the Boston Bruin who broke Raymond's back in Game 6, got a huge series of boos and catcalls as he took the ice for the opening face-off.
No penalties in the first period, despite it being one of the most physical periods in the series.
The crowd was already louder in the warm up than they were third period of Game 5. My ears are ringing already. Its going to be a loud night, hopefully the Canucks can feed off that energy.
The Sedins, Burrows, Bieksa and Edler had an early shift where they controlled the play and worked the puck around in Sedin fashion in the Boston zone. There have been several shifts like that tonight, but no goals to show for it yet.
Perhaps in tribute to his fallen defence partner, Dan Hamhuis, Kevin Bieksa levelled Shawn Thornton with a hip check in the first period.
Roberto Luongo is on his game early, robbing the Bruins with a diving save back across the goal line approximately four minutes in.
Canucks had most of the pressure, out shooting the Bruins 8-5, but Bergeron scores a late goal off a tap in. Unlike most the goals lately, this one wasn't Luongo's fault. The crowd is loud, not dismayed by the early deficit.
The infamous Green Men were wearing Luc Bourdon shirts, and holding up a sign simply saying "Win it for Luc" during a TV timeout. Got a huge rise out of the crowd,especially when one of the green men emulated Bourdon's bow and arrow goal celebration, as Burrows does in tribute.
The Canucks certainly don't lack for inspiration in this game, but they need to do something neither they nor the Bruins could do in the first six games. They need to comeback after giving up the opening goal.
In fact, the only game where the lead changed hands after the opening goal was Game 2 here in Vancouver. Maybe history can repeat itself.
VANCOUVER - Maybe the President's Trophy as the top regular season team wasn't just a shiny bauble after all.
Winning the President's Trophy guaranteed the Vancouver Canucks home ice advantage over the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Finals.
And the Canucks might need to take advantage of that home ice advantage to prevail in Game 7.
In the first six games of the Stanley Cup Finals, the home team has scored first, and then gone on to win the game.
The home team has also out hit the visiting team in each game as well.
The Canucks have won their last six games at Roger's Arena in Vancouver.
The Bruins have lost their last five road games, including the last three in Vancouver.
Only twice in the 15 years of the Stanley Cup being awarded in a seven game series has the road team won in a Game 7 after the first six were won by the home team. The 1971 Montreal Canadiens did it, and so did the 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins.
Of course, the historical statistics won't win the game for the Canucks. But they may explain why the Vancouver fans feel confident going into Game 7.
VANCOUVER - Physical play, grit and the will to win will determine who will hoist the Stanley Cup tonight after Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks.
The home team has won each game so far. And perhaps not surprisingly, the home team has outhit the visiting team in each game as well, as they feed off the energy from the crowd.
In Game 1, Raffi Torres led the way with five hits, and Kevin Bieksa and Aaron Rome were just behind with four hits apiece. Torres would go on to score the game winning goal.
In Game 2, Andrew Alberts led the way with six hits, and Alex Burrows followed closely behind with five hits. Burrows scored the game winning goal a part of a three point night.
In Game 6, Alex Edler had a monster ten hits, and helped to create the games only goal.
Who will step up tonight to lead the Canucks in hits, and hopefully in scoring as well.
VANCOUVER - It is a bright sunny day in Vancouver, and record setting crowds are rushing into the downtown core for Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Boston Bruins and the Vancouver Canucks.
For Game 5, the last game in Vancouver, over 100,000 fans crowded into downtown to watch the games in the bars and outdoor viewing areas around Roger's Arena. That wasn't a very nice day, being overcast and threatening to rain.
Today is a bright sunny summer day in Vancouver, and with the Stanley Cup on the line, the Vancouver police are expecting crowds in excess of 200,000.
The atmosphere seems to be one of nervous anticipation. The Canucks have ruled in Vancouver, winning all three home games so far, but they were just blow-out 5-2 in Boston for Game 6.
Still, the prevailing mood seems to be one of anticipation and optimism.
Prior to Game 5, I described the mood in the city as brittle. I felt that if the Canucks were on the ropes in the first period, that the crowd in Roger's Arena would be silenced.
I was wrong.
The crowd was loud and raucous, hitting the 119 decibel mark consistently during the game. That is rock concert loud, and my ears were ringing afterwards.
Tonight, I expect the crowd to be even louder. And I expect the Canucks to feed off that energy.
VANCOUVER - So far we have been treated to a goaltenders duel in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins, and Roberto Luongo of the Vancouver Canucks are both nominated for the Vezina Trophy as the best regular season goalie, and they are continuing that stellar play into the post-season.
Thomas has been fairly consistent, while Luongo has been up and down, better than Thomas in Vancouver, and not even in the same league while in Boston.
Through six games, here are the goalie statistics:
Games 1, 2 and 5 in Vancouver:
Thomas 0-3, 1.68 GAA, 0.946 Save percentage
Luongo 3-0, 0.67 GAA, 0.979 Save percentage. *2 shutouts
Games 3, 4 and 6 in Boston:
Thomas 3-0, 1.01 GAA, 0.974 Save percentage. *1 shutout
Luongo 0-3, 8.05 GAA, 0.773 Save percentage. *Pulled in Games 4 and 6.
Will we see the home Luongo, or the road Luongo tonight? My money is on the home Luongo, as he fees off the energy from the fans. Plus he went on another of his fabled walks around the Stanley Park seawall today.
VANCOUVER - We are approximately three hours before the puck drops to start Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
Here are my predictions for which team will hoist the Stanley Cup, the final score, who scores the game winning goal, and who will win the Conn Smythe trophy:
I predict the Vancouver Canucks will win 3-2 in regulation.
That is a high score for a game at Rogers Arena, but whoever scores first will spark the opposing team to open it up to even the score. Normally you'd think Vancouver could get an empty net goal, but that would be too easy. The Canucks like to do things the hard way.
For the game winning goal, I'm picking Alex Burrows to be the hero.
Burrows is the Canuck with the most points in the later games (5,6,7) of a series this spring, and he came up with a monster performance in Game 7 versus the Chicago Blackhawks.
Plus Burrows scoring gives Boston fans another reason to hate him after the biting incident and his clutch performance in Game 2.
For the Conn Smythe, it will go to Tim Thomas. That is the consensus pick by the media, so unless he gives up six or seven goals tonight, the trophy already has his name on it.
Those are my predictions, feel free to post your own predictions in the comments.
VANCOUVER - How much does the Stanley Cup weigh?
Literally, it weighs in at 34.5 pounds, and is 35.25 inches high.
Figuratively, it carries the weight of the world to hockey players.
The Stanley Cup is the hardest trophy in professional sports to win. Legends are made when a player hoists the Stanley Cup over his head.
Raffi Torres of the Vancouver Canucks was on the losing end of a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Finals between the Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks. He spoke to the media on the sacrifices and dedication necessary to get this far.
"This is why we, as professional athletes, this is what we train for all summer long. It's the sacrifices you make over the course of the year in order to have yourself ready to go.
The main thing is to leave it all out there. It's a chance to bring the cup here to Vancouver, and at the end of the day, you don't want regrets out there."
The most damming statement about a player in any sport is to say they are one of the greatest players not to win a championship.
Winning a Stanley Cup would go a long way to restoring the reputations of the Vancouver Canucks star players who have garnered a rep as playoff non-performers.
For Henrik and Daniel Sedin, Roberto Luongo and others, hoisting the Stanley Cup would take the weight of the world due to fan expectations and criticism off their shoulders.
Especially Daniel, who infamously guaranteed a Canucks victory in Game 7.
VANCOUVER - The Vancouver Canucks are expecting to only make one lineup change for tonight's epic Game 7 against the Boston Bruins.
Mason Raymond is out with a broken back suffered in Game 6, so Jeff Tambellini is drawing back into the lineup.
Tambellini is a fast, two way forward who played in the Canucks wins in Games 1 and 2, and then was sat with the return of Manny Malhotra.
Tambellini knows full well how important tonight's game is. He grew up in Vancouver, and was around the 1994 Canucks team that made it to Game 7 before losing to the New York Rangers. His dad, Steve Tambellini, was an executive with the Canucks then, and now is the General Manager of the Edmonton Oilers.
Speaking with Ben Kuzma of the Province newspaper, Tambellini discussed how role players can step up and make a difference on hockey's biggest stage:
"I watched Max Talbot do it and Mike Rupp. It takes everything. We're going to find a way to get it done."
Where Tambellini plays is a bit of mystery.
He could start on the wing in place of the injured Raymond, or head coach Alain Vigneault might chose to promote Jannik Hansen or Raffi Torres from the third line and place Tambellini there instead.
In all likelyhood, he will start with Kesler, as they played together earlier in the season. But expect Vigneault to shuffle his lines, double-shifting whoever is playing best at the moment.
Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Alex Burrows
Chris Higgins - Ryan Kesler - Jeff Tambellini
Raffi Torres - Maxim Lapierre - Jannik Hansen
Tanner Glass - Manny Malhotra - Victor Oreskovich
On defence, there should not be any changes. Alberts and Edler both missed time in Game 6, but Vigneault confirmed they would play tonight. The injured Dan Hamhuis didn't take the morning skate, so he definitely won't draw into the lineup.
Christian Ehrhoff - Kevin Bieksa
Sami Salo - Alex Edler
Chris Tanev - Andrew Alberts
And in goal, the Canucks will definitely be starting Roberto Luongo.
VANCOUVER - If they want to pump up the crowd, the Canucks should play Al Pacino's speech from Any Given Sunday on the big screen before the game. It is one of the greatest sports movie of all time, and that speech beautifully sums up what it takes to win a championship game.
In the previous home games at Roger's Arena, the Canucks sacrificed their bodies and wanted it more than the Bruins. They won those inches that Pacino talks about on every shift, on every battle for the puck, and willed themselves to a win.
They couldn't win those little battles in Boston, and they lost. Badly.
The Canucks just need to dig deep and replicate their will to win from the previous home games one more time.
Raffi Torres. Alex Burrows. Maxim Lapierre.
Not the most skilled players on the Canucks, but they are the hardest workers on the Canucks. Guys who scraped and clawed to make the NHL, and who have to give everything on every shift to stay in the league.
And they have scored the three game winning goals for the Canucks so far in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Raffi Torres was a first round pick in 2000, but he has had problems living up to his potential. This time last year, he was a healthy scratch for the Buffalo Sabres in the playoffs.
Last August, he was unwanted by any other NHL team, and had to take a massive pay cut on a one year contract from the Canucks to stay in the NHL.
Alex Burrows was never drafted. He had to battle his way from the ECHL to the AHL before getting a chance with the Canucks.
Maxim Lapierre was given up on by two teams already this year. The Montreal Canadiens traded him to the Anaheim Ducks, who in turn traded him to the Vancouver Canucks at the trading deadline.
If the Canucks win tonight, Lapierre will be the first player in NHL history to win the Stanley Cup after being traded twice in the same season.
These players know what it is like to have your career on the line every single shift.
And they are the ones that have come up big and scored clutch goals for the Canucks.
Will their teammates follow their lead once more and battle hard on every shift, not surrendering an inch to the Bruins?