June 06 2011 08:16AM
"I scored the game-winning goal in OT. And now I am learning to FLYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!"
"Daniel! Have you seen what Alex can do? He can FLY!"
(Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
Game Day Recon: Stanley Cup Final Game 3 - Canucks @ Bruins
The Vancouver Canucks have scored some improbable goals at some improbable times during the Stanley Cup Final. Lucky for them, they are taking those improbable goals to Boston with a 2-0 series lead.
Will the Canucks get their power play going? Can the Canucks continue to rely on timely goals? Will home ice prove to be the missing ingredient for the Bruins to win their first game? Will the Canucks take a real stranglehold on the Stanley Cup Final?
Game Time: 5:00 PM PT
The Canucks are sure finding some peculiar times to score game-winning goals in this Stanley Cup Final. Raffi Torres scores the only goal of Game 1 with less than 19 seconds remaining in the game, on the last shot of the game. Game 2 sees Alex Burrows score the game-winning goal only 11 seconds into overtime - the second fastest overtime in Stanley Cup Final history (Brian Skrudland scored 9 seconds in to OT for Montreal in 1986). Can the Canucks keep dialing up the Improbability Drive, forcing the Bruins to think to themselves ,"Oh, no. Not again."?
For all of the lauding and praise that the Bruins received for the even strength play, they have only scored a single goal at even strength through 2 games, compared to the Canucks' 4 even strength goals. If not for Tim Thomas' performances in both games, and a 10-minute brain cramp in the second for the Canucks, both games would have likely been decided heavily in Vancouver's favour. But, as they say, a win is a win. Being up 2-0 in the series is the same whether you won 5-0 in both games, or 2-1 in both games. The score lines don't matter right now, only the W's. That said, the Canucks are up 2-0 and still haven't played their best hockey in the Final, nor have they submitted a complete 60 effort in either game.
The Canucks defense had some rough moments in Game 2, particularly Aaron Rome. The Canucks obviously missed Dan Hamhuis, who has easily been their best shut down defensemen. With Hamhuis out, the Bruins top line had a much better game, and finally picked up goal against Luongo. With Hamhuis still listed as day-to-day, the Canucks have to hope that he is ready to go for Game 3. And the Canucks have to consider putting Keith Ballard in, and taking out Rome. Ballard's speed and creativity will be a boost against the slower Bruins, especially in a game where the teams have crossed the continent the day before. Fresh, speedy legs from Ballard might wreak havoc on the Bruins. Besides, that still leaves Bieksa, Salo, Edler and Alberts as possible shut down defensemen, with Ehrhoff and Ballard providing some more offense from the blueline. All that being said, the best scenario is if Hamhuis is ready to go.
Controlling the puck and keeping it away from the Bruins top line will be hugely important, as Boston plays with home-ice advantage for games 3 and 4. Manny Malhotra's return is all the more critical now, as the Canucks faceoff specialist won 6 of 7 draws he took in Game 2. Defensive zone faceoffs are Manny's bread and butter, so success for him in Game 3 will be key to Canucks taking puck control away from the Bruins in the defensive zone, and therefore alleviating danger in front and around Roberto Luongo.
And speaking of Luongo… all the Canucks can ask for is another strong performance. He has been formidable in net for the Canucks, and proving to be a possible Conn Smythe candidate, allowing only 2 goals through 2 games, only one of which was at even strength. He has looked poised, calm, controlled and locked-in to his type of game. What more do the Canucks need out of Luongo? Nothing. He is doing everything his team needs him to do.
Will coach Vigneault play the fourth line, with Malhotra at centre, a little more in Game 3, giving some more balance to the roster, as they team travel from one coast to the other? Will Hamhuis be ready to go? Will Keith Ballard finally see some ice time in the Stanley Cup Final?
The Three Keys
Here are the three keys for the Vancouver Canucks tonight:
1. Exploit Thomas and Chara. Both Chara and Thomas are elite players at their position, but both have their flaws and the Canucks did well to expose a nerve on both. The Canucks had passes moving side-to-side in front of Thomas, opening up his aggressive game. As for Chara, the Canucks attacked him physically, wearing the big man down. The Canucks need to keep up that work on the Bruins' two best players.
2. Put the foot down on the gas early. The Canucks are used to long travel. The Bruins aren't. The Bruins played only ONE game outside the Eastern time zone after February 28th, and that was in Nashville (only 1 hr difference). The Canucks have to expect that the Bruins will take time to find their legs, and they have to go full throttle from the opening whistle. An early goal will put the Bruins behind the eight-ball, and will take the crowd out of the mix.
3. A complete 60-minute effort. The Canucks cannot have their 2nd period lull, as they have done so often this season. The Canucks need to keep their momentum flowing through the second from start to finish, and then through the third, where they have continuously dominated teams this year. Rather than having to claw back in the third, a strong second period will likely mean that they are playing with a lead, or at least tied. And with the way the Canucks play in the third period, that is as good as gold for them.
Here are your top 5 links for today's game:
1. Tale of the Tape: Canucks @ Bruins (Canucks.com)
2. Will home ice help struggling Bruins? (The Province)
3. Canucks: 'We haven't won anything yet' (Vancouver Sun)
4. Bieksa says karma will catch up to Peverley (CBC Sports)
5. Game Day Preview (Stanley Cup of Chowder) << SEE WHAT THE ENEMY HAS TO SAY!