If the first two games in Boston were any indication, it will be a chore for Vancouver to close out the Stanley Cup Final on the road. In fact, the first two games may make this an impossible game to win for the Canucks.
Looking at the situation there isn’t much of a difference. Vancouver recaptured the momentum in game five, their goalie found his swagger and the penalty kill regained form. Not to mention, the team stopped acting like a bunch of hormonal teenagers and just played hockey in game five. Boston returns home on their heels and in a must-win situation. Add to that their power play continues to be a bugaboo.
The only difference that lies in the weeds for game six is the mental factor. The Bruins have to play a flawless game in order to force a game seven. The Canucks also know they are one win away and 60 good minutes will grant them Lord Stanley’s Cup. All the players will say “we just have to forget about it and play our game” or “this is just another game, we just need to go out and win it.” That is all fine and dandy, but they are certainly thinking of what lies at the end of 60 minutes. How will it affect the game? I can’t say. I just know they are huffing grass if they haven’t started sweating a little about the prospect of this game.
As for who will win? I think the Hockey Gods may have an idea. Vancouver was really bad in games three and four. From top to bottom they didn’t perform well, in fact, they haven’t been stellar on the road at all in these playoffs. I still think if they want to win the Cup they need to do it tonight, the prospect of trying to beat Boston in a game seven is something I wouldn’t want my team dealing with.
I hate to be cliché, but the success of the Canucks rests on the leg pads of Roberto Luongo. He has managed to be the most important goalie in the series without being the best goalie in the series. So long as Luongo gives the Canucks a chance to win, I really like their odds. He doesn’t need to pitch a shutout, but he can’t be the goalie he was in the previous two games at TD Garden.So long as Luongo holds the fort, I feel that the Canucks superior depth and top-end talent will find a way to win this game. It would also be helpful if the Wonder Twins actually started contributing again.
On Boston’s end they need to run the Canucks out of the building again. They need to pound each player through the boards and run the score up. Vancouver needs to run home for game seven with their tail between their legs. It is the only way the Bruins will survive in a game seven. Personally, I think their backs may be too far against the wall to push the Canucks back west. The Canucks will not be able to match lines tonight, something that has been a major factor in the series. Without Nathan Horton, the Canucks’ ability to limit the Bruins’ offense has been great. That is when they have been able to match lines. The opposite has been true in Boston. The Bruins have been able to get the line combos they want against the right personnel from Vancouver in the Garden. It is safe to assume that Claude Julien’s ability to keep his best offensive players away from Kevin Bieksa and Ryan Kesler will play a role.
I don’t want to say who will win this game. The fact of the matter is that this one is a little too close to call. I will say that Tim Thomas runs away with the Conn Smythe if the series ends tonight. Well, he runs away with it no matter what. Even if Ryan Kesler scores six points, Thomas has been the best player in the playoffs, bottom line.