Friday, June 10, 2011

Live Blog: Canucks vs. Bruins, Game 5

Home Teams are 4-0, Boston Tries for Three in a Row

The last time the Vancouver Canucks played a game 5 in the Stanley Cup Finals, they were facing a 3-1 deficit and elimination at the hands of Mark Messier, the New York Rangers, and a large dose of destiny. Tonight isn't an elimination game, but it feels like the chances that the Canucks have to win the Stanley Cup will fall to slim or slim-to-none unless they can defeat the surging Bruins tonight at Rogers Arena. The series was dumped on it's head when Aaron Rome decided to take three strides and demolish an unsuspecting Nathan Horton. Since that hit, the Bruins have outscored the Canucks 12-1 and erased a 2-0 deficit in the best of seven. The best of seven has been reduced to a best of three and we will soon find out what tortured fan base will end a long Stanley Cup drought.  

Keys to the Game
For Vancouver:
  1. Roberto Luongo has to be the goalie that played a fantastic game 7 against the Blackhawks and not the guy who has been chased from one finals game and left to stick out an eight goal thrashing in another. 
  2. Where are the Sedin twins? Henrik and Daniel have combined for only two points in the Stanley Cup Finals. Back in the Rogers Arena, Coach Alain Vigneault has the last change tonight and he needs to find a way to get the Sedin's some space. 
  3. Someone not named Sedin, Burrows, or Kessler needs to provide some secondary scoring. Chris Higgins is a guy that could give the team a spark with improved play tonight. Manny Malhotra has three games under his belt now and has o points and is a -1. It might be time for Malhotra to be the difference maker that made his injury the biggest story heading into the finals. 
For Boston:
  1. Tim Thomas played strange hockey the last time he was in the Rogers Arena. He can be a little erratic and over play the puck at times. Now, after only allowing 1 goal in Boston, he is firmly inside the heads of the Canucks. The Bruins need him to stay there. 
  2. Nathan Horton has been knocked into next season and that has give Tyler Seguin a spot in the lineup and more ice-time for forwards like Marchand, Peverly, and Ryder. The Bruins need to continue to get contributions from all four lines. 
  3. The first ten minutes could go a long way to deciding what kind of a game five this will be. So, if your the Bruins, go win it. The Bruins have their skates against the throats of the Canucks 2011 season and there is no reason to let up. Don't give the Canucks on the ice or the Canucks in the stands any reason to stop panicking. 
Live Blog:

8:17: I once had the chance to talk to Doug Allen. Doug sings the anthem (Canadian and American) at most of the Buffalo Sabres home games. He told me the Sabres give him a $100 bill for singing or a ticket to the game. He said most nights he takes the money and returns home to watch the game. During the playoffs, Doug lets the Sabres keep the money. You can't beat playoff hockey. I wonder what the Canucks pay this portly, greasy, tenor that sings about half of, "Oh Canada?" He doesn't have to sing the Star Spangled Banner, and the fans sing most of Oh Canada. Nice gig. 

8:21: Awesome note about the lineup. Former Sabres first round pick, Keith Ballard, is a scratch tonight. In his place, former R.I.T defender Christopher Tanev gets his third chance to play an NHL playoff game. Just two seasons ago, Tanev was on the bus playing in the OPJHL against the JR. Buffalo Sabres. 

8:23: Raffi Torres, easily my most hated player in this series, does his best to derail the Canucks momentum with a bad early penalty.

8:29: Kessler just made a fantastic pass to Mason Raymond who couldn't beat Thomas despite what seemed to be plenty of space on the short side. 

8:31: Henrik Sedin is headed to the penalty box and the Bruins are headed to their second power play. 

8:33: I just talked to my good buddy Vinny Scarsella who played against Tenev last year for Canisius College. Vin said that Tenev would often be matched up against his line and he was one of the toughest defenseman he played against in college. Vinny went on to say that Tenev always made the smart play with the puck and was by far the best player on RIT's Frozen Four Team. 

8:36: The Bruins are 0-2 on the power play with only 3 shots. Seguin hasn't had a shift in the game yet, but Gregory Campbell has had a ton of time including action on both PP's.  

8:39: Seguin just had his first shift of the game. With less than 8:00 left in the first period, the Bruins have weathered whatever storm that came with a shift in venue. The early penalties by the Canucks helped out. 

8:41: Almost non stop action in the first period of play in Vancouver. Shots are 8-3 in favor of Boston as we enter the last five minutes of the first period. Vancouver is called for their third penalty of the period. Boston is going back on the power play. I wonder if we will see Seguin this time. Boston should keep it simple and let Chara get some shots from the point with people in front. He does shoot 105 right?

8:47: Luongo just robbed Bergeron at point blank range. The Bruins are 0-3 on the power play and Vancouver seems to be building a little bit of momentum as they kill off these penalties. Still no Seguin on the power play and it not only baffles me but Eddie and Pierre mention it on the  broadcast.

8:49: During the commercial I found this from

On the Canuck front, mounting injuries to their defense have led to the call-up of rookie Chris Tanev. Tanev is less than two years removed from playing Tier II hockey in Ontario with the Markham Waxers. The undrafted 22 year old parlayed a 41 point season with Markham into a spot with R.I.T. of the NCAA. He signed with the Vancouver organization after a nifty 28 point year in college and this year with the Manitoba Moose has 9 points in 39 games.
Tanev: RIT to NHL
8:52: Doc Emrick just causally threw out one of those stats that makes him one of the best in the business. This season will be the 34th consecutive year a college hockey player will have his name engraved on the Stanley Cup.

8:55: Alex Burrows and Milan Lucic are both given penalties at the end of the period as they gave each other the business at the faceoff dot.

8:57: That will do it for period one. Boston had 12 shots and Vancouver managed only 6.

9:11: During the break I treated myself to a snack, went to the bathroom and helped with some laundry. I am ready for period two.  
9:16: Play has started 4 on 4 as Burrows and Lucic are still in the box after their late first period penalties.

9:19: The Canucks have come out of the locker room with all kinds of energy and have gotten a few lower end scoring chances.

9:20: Tomas Kaberle let go of a long slap shot after the whistle that bounced off of the chest of Luongo. It created a bit of a scrum. Green Day's "Know Your Enemy" is playing in Rogers Arena. Kessler is caught trying to rattle Tim Thomas and is sent to the box.

9:23: The Bruins are going to their fourth power play. Will we see Seguin this time? Are the Bruins going to take advantage of one of these power plays?

9:25: Luongo has made back to back glove saves on easy shots from the point. Chara lets go of a one-timer that looked like it hit Luongo on the shoulder and stunned him a little bit. The Canucks fans are obnoxiously chanting that Bruin X SUCKS. For example, Chara Sucks, Chara Sucks.

9:27: The announce team on NBC has mentioned a few times this period that Seidenberg and Ehroff played together in the Olympics for Germany last winter. So I was curious, what Countries are represented in this years Final?

USA, Canada, Germany, Denmark, Sweeden, Russia, Finland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Kazakhstan- 10 Countries

9:31: The Canucks finally get the chance to bring out their power play. The Bruins went scoreless on their first four chances.

9:34: The Bruins make it 16 for 16 on the PK during the Stanley Cup Finals.

9:35: After the kill, Boston with tons of pressure, Luongo with no stick, Canucks cant clear, Canucks are gassed, Luongo has his stick, long pass out of the zone, huge hit by Torres, Chara rips a chance just wide, Sami Salo is floating around in no where's land, Marchand just misses a chance, NON STOP ACTION, The Canucks ice it but beat out the call, OMG look at the ceiling Tanner Glass you just missed a wide open net. Take a breath. WOW. Awesome action.

9:39: I mentioned earlier that for thirty plus seasons a college hockey player has had their name engraved on the Cup and this season would be no different. Here is this year' list of college hockey players in the Final.

Chris Higgins - Yale, Ryan Kesler - Ohio State, Kevin Bieksa - Bowling Green, Mason Raymond - Minn. Duluth, Chris Tanev - RIT, Cory Schneider - BC, Andrew Alberts - BC, Keith Ballard - Minnesota, Tanner Glass - Dartmouth, Victor Oreskovich - Notre Dame

Tim Thomas - Vermont, Rich Peverley - St. Lawrence

(Thanks to future Yale hockey player, Anthony Day, for putting together that list)

9:45: Play has slowed down a bit from that awesome pace we had in the middle of the period. Vancouver is the only team with a shot in the last three minutes.

9:47: The Canucks get a great shift from their top line and draw a penalty. Bergeron is headed to the box and that should give the Canucks a better chance on this power play.

9:50: 17 for 17. The Bruins continue to dominate the penalty kill.

9:54: That is the end of the second period, Canucks 0 Bruins 0. The shots are 21 for Boston and 18 for Vancouver.

10:13: Period 3 is underway. This is the most important period for both teams.  Whoever wins this period has two match-point shots for the right to win the Stanley Cup. I want to see one of the Sedin's make a play for the Canucks. They are overdue. In the 94 final, Geoff Courtnall brought a similar slump into Game 5 of the series and busted out to force a game six, and eventually a seven. For Boston, just let Tim Thomas see it. If you can do that, he will probably save it and give his team the chance to score the winning goal.

10:16: The longer this game goes without a goal the more comparisons to game one we will hear. Who is the Raffi Torres like hero tonight. I hope to go it isn't that fat bastard Torres.

10:19: Happy Birthday, MOM! Oh, that's the time not the date. Higgins had a good chance to get the game's first goal and the Canucks have had some decent pressure early in the period. 

10:21: GOALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL! Bieksa fires a shot wide and the boards spit the puck out to a waiting Maxim Lapierre who bangs it in for his second of the playoffs. Lapierre from Bieksa and Torres at 4:35 of the third.1-0 Caucks with 14:20 remaining.

10:25: On his next shift, Lapierre has another scoring chance. He is blazing around the Vancouver ice like Pavel Bure. It has been a long time since Boston has had a scoring chance. Vancouver looks like the team with the better legs as we enter the first television timeout of the third period.

10:27: Remember before when I mentioned Geoff Courtnall? Here is one of those goals he scored in game five of the 1994 Stanley Cup Final.

10:35: Lapierre is feeling it tonight. He is flying all over the place and competing like I thought we might see one or both of the Sedin's tonight. Lapierre has 2 goals and 2 assists these playoffs with his biggest coming earlier tonight. With 8:00 minutes remaining Lucic gets a tripping penalty and the Canucks will head to the powerplay.

10:37: Mike Tirico makes a great point on Twitter. If both series go seven games, we will have four straight nights of championship on the line games in the NHL and NBA starting on Sunday night.

10:40: The Canucks work a one-time to the left of Thomas and he makes a fantastic save to keep the score 1-0.

10:42: The Bruins kill off the penalty and remain 100% on the pk during the Stanley Cup Finals. NBC steps aside with 5:00 left in the third period of game five.

10:43: While we wait, a few plugs. This Sunday, The Sports-Casters will be live at Leisure Rinks for another live blog of all the action of the FHL. Tuesday, Anthony and I will be joined by Zach Rosenfield for a special US Open podcast. Anthony and I will also host Episode 25 of the podcast with Neil Best from Newsday and more. or for more information.

10:46: The Bruins have a scoring chance but Luongo eats it up and holds on tight. The Bruins win the next draw clean and Luongo has to be very sharp to keep it out.Vancouver is forced to ice the puck. The Bruins win the draw clean again for another chance. 2:24 left in the third. 1-0 Vancouver.

10:49: 1:35 remaining in the third and the Canucks ice the puck.

10:50: Any goal scored against the Canucks at this point would be a disaster. Thomas has left the net.

10:51: The puck goes out of play after a deflection and with 42.2 seconds left the Bruins will call a timeout and draw up their best attempt at a last minute goal. Anyone remember this one?

10:53: GAME OVER. Vancouver win 1-0. Vancouver takes a 3-2 lead in the best of seven series.

10:54: My three stars:

3. Tim Thomas
2. Roberto Luongo
1. Maxim Lapierre

Why the Canucks Won: The Canucks won this game because better goal-tending and focus on the penalty kill helped them kill off the Bruins three power plays in the first period. Despite another quiet night from the Sedin's the Canucks found some secondary scoring and a way to slip one by Thomas, sort of similar to game 1.

Why the Bruins lost: The Bruins lost because the couldn't capitalize on one of their three powerplays in the first period. Any goal there would have returned panic to the Canucks on the ice and in the stands.

What's Next? From here, both team get a couple of days to get ready for Monday night in Boston for a 8:00 start. The Cup will be in the building and Boston will have to win to keep their Stanley Cup hopes alive.

Thanks for watching the game with me tonight.
Say goodnight Brees and Brady:

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