Thursday, June 09, 2011

Momentum shift

The totals weren't quite as dramatic, but the net result certainly was, with their 4-0 victory on Wednesday night the Boston Bruins have turned the momentum around in this Stanley Cup Final.  Sewing, no make that pounding in the seeds of doubt, into a Canuck lineup that but four days ago perhaps thought destiny was on their side.

In two periods of hockey on Causeway street, the home side was good for 12 goals, surrendering but 1. About the only good thing that the Canucks can take home with them from their trip to New England is that the NHL playoffs are based on the ability to gain four wins out of seven and not by aggregate goals scored over the course of those seven games.

Despite firing more shots at the spectacular Tim Thomas (who could very well be our Conn Smythe winner now, win or lose) than the Bruins directed at Roberto Luongo and then Cory Schneider, the Bruins goaltender held perfect, snatching shots out of thin air, flopping to cover the rebound and clearing in front of his own net with a handy slash that would make Ron Hextall or Billy Smith stand up and applaud.

Thomas has done it all for the Bruins in all four games thus far, the better of the goaltenders in this series, the motivational force for his team mates to take advantage of their opportunities (at times to ridiculous totals).

The Canucks as they returned to Vancouver stress that they'll be putting those two games in Boston behind them and focusing on the future, and with good reason, for they certainly played some disappointing hockey during their stay, turning into roadkill along the Mass turnpike as it were.

In Vancouver, where the bandwagon ebbs and flows with wins and losses, the first strains of panic have started to seep into the faithful, more than a few suggesting that Roberto Luongo should give way  to Cory Schneider, forgetful it seems that while there have been a fair number of goals against,  any number of breakdowns bear responsibility, not just the fellow between the pipes.

The defense has struggled since the injury to Dan Hamhius, Kevin Bieksa in particular seems to have suffered the most from his partner's absence, the bingo balls bouncing in and out through the last two games to try and find a partner to make him comfortable.

Keith Ballards return to the line up was not the success he may have wished for, he struggled quite a bit through game four, the lack of playoff playing time taking its toll at times, leaving him on more than one occasion to be a step behind, out of position and suffering the attack of the Bruins.

He wasn't alone by any stretch however, back checkers neglected their assignments throughout the game, and once again, in what is becoming a regular nightmare for the Canucks, a second period collapse gave the Bruins their momentum which they never surrendered.

A power play, power outage has told the tale thus far for the Canucks, while the Bruins take penalties there seemingly is no cost for their transgressions, the Canucks with the extra attacker making far too many pretty passes and surrendering the puck too much, the shots they do manage to get through on Thomas, for the most part have been easily turned aside.

The perfect conditions for the Bruins to have fought back from their Vancouver setbacks, taking what the Canucks have provided to them and turning it into two convincing wins, with a very real belief now that two more is within their grasp.

In the end, a victory is a victory, each one worth but one game towards the goal of four, the Canucks have three more chances to gain the two that they require if they're to bring the final chapter of their Stanley Cup run to an end, the way the Bruins are playing at the moment, a rewrite to the concluding paragraph isn't out of the question.

As always, you can review the vast collection of offerings on this Stanley Cup final from our archive post, which you can find here.

No comments: