Lappy sent the crowd at Rogers Arena into a FRENZY when he started practices his air guitar.
(Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)
Game Day Recon: Stanley Cup Final Game 1 – Bruins @ Canucks
The defense bounced back. The hitting bounced back. The scoring chances bounced back. And most importantly, Roberto Luongo bounced back in a big way.
And now, the Canucks are one win away from hoisting the Stanley Cup.
Luongo and his Canucks were back on form Friday, after two dismal efforts in Boston. Luongo was rock solid, posting his 4 shutout of these playoffs, and second of the Stanley Cup final. So to recap his goals by game in this series… 0-2-8-4-0. Yeah, that’s a bit weird. But with both teams capable of playing strong defensively, Luongo isn’t getting a lot of run support. In his 3 wins, he’s allowed 2 goals. But the Canucks have only scored 5. So with Tim Thomas playing as well as he is, and keeping the Canucks forwards from scoring, it’s vital that Lu plays the way he has at home.
Yesterday also saw the long-awaited return of Alex Edler. Yes, I know he wasn’t hurt. But he sure hasn’t been a factor in a playoff game since the early part of the Chicago series. Edler was a force in Game 5, leading the game in hits, and returning to his dominant defensive form that the Canucks have sorely missed since Dan Hamhuis went out in Game 1. While there is a minute chance that Hamhuis will still come back, Edler’s return to form was desperately needed to limit the crafty Bruins forwards. Edler must keep this play up if the Canucks want to have a shot of winning the Stanley Cup in Boston.
Alex Edler was the most dominant defenseman, but he was not alone. The Canucks blue line was solid all night long. They stopped playing pucks along the boards, and fed them directly up ice. Playing in his first ever Stanley Cup Final game, Chris Tanev came in for the beleaguered Keith Ballard, and looked as cool as the other side of the pool. To paraphrase Kevin Bieksa, he looked like he could have had a smoke in his mouth, he looked so cool out there. Tanev was his usual calm self through his 12 minutes of ice time, apexing in a beautiful cross-seam pass to Tanner Glass, who had a WIDE OPEN shot on net, but whiffed on the pass as he briefly looked up and had the puck allude him. While Glass will likely want to forget this game ever happened, Tanev played a game to remember.
The power play also returned to form… mostly. Sure, they didn’t score, but it looked dangerous. Most importantly, the Canucks power play actually controlled the puck for 2-minute spans and therefore shifted momentum. It also provided a shelter for the Canucks during the second period, where the Canucks have consistently struggled.
The grit, grime and speed of the Canucks third line was ultimately the difference in this game. Lapierre, Torres and Hansen were incredibly effective all game long, hitting, crashing, and moving the puck up ice and keeping it there. They were eventually rewarded with the game’s only goal midway through the third period and a chance to win one more game to hoist the Stanley Cup.
Three Big Stats
Here are my top 3 stats from last night’s game:
1. 47-27. Hit counts in favour of Vancouver. Alex Edler was a beast all night, registering 10 hits. His 10 hits was TWICE as much as the second highest hit count in the game (Chris Higgins – 5).
2. 12-for-18. Special teams faceoffs for the Canucks last night. Again, I know that the power play didn’t score, but it looked a helluva lot better in Game 5 than it had in ANY game previous in the Stanley Cup Final. Their ability to win draws helped them control play when it mattered most.
3. 0. 0 goals allowed by one Roberto Luongo. A stellar effort following two team-wide disasters. Luongo won his team the game.
Three Big Moments
Here are my top 3 moments from last night’s game:
1. Another third liner comes through with the solitary goal for the Canucks. Maxim Lapierre takes the rebounded shot from Kevin Bieksa and flubs it home. It wasn’t pretty, but it sure felt like it.
2. Tanner Glass missed a SURE GOAL. A SURE GOAL. He’ll be having nightmares about that one for months, I’m sure. Luckily for Glass, Lapierre saved the day.
3. How about ANY of Luongo’s 31 saves? Yeah, they were all gems. Tremendous. None in particular stood out to me… So here is just one example of how good Luongo was. Sound positionally, calm under pressure, unwavering.