So what kind of Canucks’ blog goes two days between posts with a Stanley Cup hanging in the balance? Well, this one. And for that we apologize. But these are almost unprecedented times, and Friday’s game left us a little speechless. And our weekend at Hockey Night in Canada’s “Play-On 4 on 4” street hockey tourney had us distracted, mentally and mostly physically.
For Friday’s tilt, we moved from our usual vantage point in the lower bowl of Rogers Arena and took up residence in the newly minted 400 level standing room only section. And damn it, it was the place to be. Away from the pretentious narcissistic masses in the lower bowl, we got to sit with the real fans. And while we were too far away from Tanner Glass’ swing-and-a-miss to have a Nathan Lafayette flashback, the Maxim Lapierre winner was literally on our doorstep.
And now we sit on the threshold of the ultimate prize. And just like 17 years ago, we’re a little numb. In game 5, we expected the Canucks to match their game 1 and 2 performances and they did not disappoint.
Of course, the shellacking they received in both games in Boston has most pundits expecting a return to Vancouver for a do-or-die game 7.
We are saying nay. The Canucks played two fantastic 1st periods in Boston before things came off the rails for various reasons. We expect that another cross continent voyage will have taken a larger toll on the Bruins - who have completed as many such trips in the last ten days as they might in an entire season. And of course, there is the benefit of an extra day of rest for the Canucks’ walking wounded.
To put things in further perspective, consider that the Canucks are one win away from finishing this series despite going 1 for 25 on the power play and despite not getting a goal from a centre not named Maxim Lapierre. Before this series ends, that will change. And when it does, it will likely signal the end of the Bruins.
The Canucks depth at defense, seemingly tested in games 3 and 4 in Boston, appeared to be in stable form by game 5 with defensive pairing combinations that should be more reliable tonight.
And let’s not forget that the Bruins and their fans carry around plenty of baggage from past playoff failures. As much as the city of Beantown has been a tough place to play for the Canucks, it’s about to get a whole lot tougher for the Bruins if they should trail early in their own rink in this potentially decisive match.
Weather reports out of Boston (which ordinarily shouldn’t matter for a game being played indoors) indicate a much cooler day today than the balmy conditions of last week that led to horrible ice conditions. This is great news for the more speedy Canucks.
In the mainstream media outside of the Vancouver market, the Canucks are seen as anything but media darlings - whether it’s been Alex Burrows and fingergate, the struggles of “Thelma & Louise” (in case you missed it, esteemed hockey prognosticator Mike Milbury’s branding of the Sedins), the Aaron Rome hit on Nathan Horton or Roberto Luongo’s overblown supposed criticism of Tim Thomas. Indeed, outside of Canuck Nation, they are not feeling the love.
We expect they will rally around that on the road in a city that has never ever been an easy place for them to win. Not much has gone according to plan this series except the overall outcome and we expect that to continue tonight with the Canucks ending the winning streak of the home teams.
So while you may consider this little exercise as some homeristic wishful thinking, we’re sure you’ll have no problem when we say “we told you so”…