February 26 2011 12:28PM
Canucks and Bruins... a classic tilt that should really happen more often.
Game Day Recon #63 - Bruins @ Canucks
The Boston Bruins pay a rare visit to Canada's west coast tonight to play the Vancouver Canucks. And the Canucks look to break an even rarer feat - the Vancouver Canucks have never scored on Tim Thomas. EVER.
Game Time: 7:00 PM PT
In 1970 when the Vancouver Canucks joined the NHL, they were in the same division as the Boston Bruins. That's weird. Essentially, if you were to look at the teams in their division, the Canucks were in today's Northeast division. That's weird. And in 1970-71, the Boston Bruins won their division. In fact, they were the best team in the league and had the league's leading scorer. That's not so weird.
Flash forward 40 years, and the Bruins are leading their division again, but this time as they face the Vancouver Canucks, they are not playing a team in its infancy. In fact, this time around, the Bruins are playing a team just like they were in 1970-71. The Canucks are leading the entire NHL with a player who leads the Art Ross trophy race. My oh my, how times have changed.
Tonight the Canucks face a Bruins team that will provide a significant test to them. The Bruins have won 3 straight and are an excellent road team, tied for the league lead with only 7 regulation losses away from home. The Bruins are exactly the type of team that has given the Canucks trouble all year - a defensively sound team with excellent goaltending. And yes, the Bruins can score too. Leading the charge for the Bruins is red-hot David Krejci with 6 points in 3 games, and hometown boy Milan Lucic with 4 points in 3 games. There is no doubt that Lucic, born and raised in Vancouver, will be fired up to play in front many friends and family tonight.
The Canucks can only hope that the Bruins suffer from the Roxy Effect, because they have been in Vancouver since Wednesday. When the Bruins have 3+ days off (they last played Tuesday), they're 8-1-0. However, the Bruins are a woeful 5-7-6 on weekends. Couple that with the Roxy Effect and the Canucks might have some success tonight.
The key for the Canucks is to play sound defensively themselves. When the Bruins win they score plenty of goals. When they lose, they hardly score at all. If the Bruins score 3 or more goals, they win. In calendar year 2011, the Bruins have only won twice when they score 2 goals or less, and those wins were against the Leafs and the Panthers (not exactly two juggernauts). But when the Bruins score, BOY do they score. In 2011, the Bruins have scored 4 or more goals 10 times. That's in 24 games. Wow.
But the most troubling stat that will hopefully be rectified tonight is the fact that Tim Thomas has never allowed a goal against the Vancouver Canucks. Granted, he's only played them twice, but he has 2 shutouts with 70 saves.
So tonight would be a great for the 2nd line to start scoring again. The once-hot Ryan Kesler has only 1 point in his last 4 games, while Mason Raymond has no points in those 4 games. It seems odd to say this but lately the scoring on the 2nd line has ALL come from Mikael Samuelsson, who continues a great stretch of play.But more importantly the Canucks need to get back to winning back to back games, something they haven't done since winning five in a row early this year, ending with a 4-2 home win against Ottawa.
Some breakout performances on the 2nd line, some typical top-play form from the Sedins, and rock solid defending and goaltending. It will ALL be needed tonight if the Canucks want to walk out with a victory at Rogers Arena.
The Three Keys
Here are the three keys for the Vancouver Canucks tonight:
1. Keep the Bruins off the scoreboard. The Canucks need to have one of their best defensive nights of the year. And Luongo will need to be spectacular. But if the Bruins struggle to score, that bodes very well for the Canucks.
2. Win the special teams battle. Despite their penchant for scoring large numbers of goals, the Bruins are not especially good on either special team. Whereas the Canucks are a top 5 team in both. But the Bruins don't put themselves short-handed very often (they lead the league in times-short-handed), so the few opportunities that the Canucks get, they had better take advantage of them.
3. Get the lead and hold. The Bruins are pretty lethal when they lead after the 1st period... just like the Canucks. And the Bruins have a horrible record when they trail after the 1st period... just like the Canucks.
Here are your top 5 links for today's game:
1. Tale of the Tape: Bruins @ Canucks (canucks.com)
2. Bruins hot, Canucks not, as they meet in Vancouver (CBC Sports)
3. Bruins banking on Kaberle to lead the charge (The Province)
4. Canucks/Bruins Preview (Yahoo! Sports)
5. Game Day: Bruins at Canucks: Where Gingers are souless (Days of Y'Orr) << SEE WHAT THE ENEMY HAS TO SAY!