Sunday, June 05, 2011

Shipping Up to Boston!

With a 2-0 Stanley Cup final lead in hand, and two gut wrenching losses administered to the visiting Bruins, the Vancouver Canucks have shipped up to Bruins territory, eager to continue on with their momentum and bring the Cup back with them.

Game two, like game one ended in crushing style for the spoked B's, having the game go into over time only to lose in less time than Norm at Cheers could quaff an ale.

In the blink of an eye, Alex Burrows (most likely public enemy number one in Boston these days) had flashed past a sprwaling Tim Thomas and out hustled, and out muscled Zdeno Chara, pushing the puck into the gaping front of the Bruins net, a 3-2 victory secured and delirium to be released on Vancouver's streets on Saturday night.

The Bruins, who perhaps had thoughts of taking a win back home through game two, had played a fairly good second period, out playing the Canucks, taking advantage of chances and even miracle, of miracle, scoring a power play goal.

It was their best period collectively of the six and a bit played through the first two games, but in the end, it was as though it didn't matter.  As the Canucks seemingly have been able to do when required most, they collected themselves heading into the third period and battled back, first with the Sedin's line which collected the tying goal on a picture perfect play, adding to the pressure of the third, shaking the confidence of the Bruins when it needed to be steeled the most.

The Bruins held off the attack to full time, but then, with the overtime just underway a turnover to Alex Edler was pushed up to Daniel Sedin, who deflected the pass up to Burrows who was into the Bruins zone and off and away to the Canucks history books once again.

It was the second big play goal scored by Burrows in this years Stanley Cup playoffs, larger even than his pivotal goal against the Hawks in the first round...

Saturday's marker steeped in the controversy of the last few days a dagger like  score, one that will be food for thought for whatever amount of games remain in this Stanley Cup Final.

In fact, Burrows who clearly has gotten into the psyche of the Bruins (and we imagine as he will learn into that of their fans as well), has also staked out some ground in the minds of those that cover the game.

Frankly we're not sure if we really need to hear any more about "the bite" from the talking class of Pierre McGuire, Mike Milbury and Don Cherry, all of whom have, er, um, feasted if you will, on the discussion points of the previous 48 hours to Saturday's puck drop.

Messrs. McGuire and Milbury in particular have been a little over the top with their high moral ground, making the Bruins sound as though they play for Mother Teresa Academy, not at all familiar with the historical stories of the team that once was known as the "BIG BAD BRUINS"

Mr. Milbury, who should perhaps wear a Bruins sweater to the NBC booth, has ratcheted up the outrage to bellicose levels, a tad cartoonish really, considering this is a fellow that once climbed far into the stands at Madison Square Garden to beat a fan on the head with his own shoe, a technique that he made famous long before it was fashionable in such places as Iraq and Egypt.

While we don't condone mis-behaviour of any kind on or off the ice and find that the Burrows incident certainly detracts from his skill set of actual playing time on the ice, at least he managed to keep his emotions limited to the ice surface, so lessons of behaviour from Mr. Milbury perhaps don't quite have the cache that he might believe they do.

And really, if the talking heads wish to get to the root cause of the Bruins difficulties thus far in this series, rather than focus on the short period of the Burrows/Begeron incident, perhaps a further examination of the growing volume of turnovers by Bruins whether forward or defense might best shine a light on the Bruins troubles after two games.

Missed assignments, badly constructed passes and giveaways have plagued the Bruins through the bulk of games one and two,  that combined with an inability to take advantage of the stellar work of Tim Thomas in the nets, those are the main contributing factors to the two losses and unless some form of reversal of those problems isn't put in place, then we suspect turnovers and sloppy play will contribute to the final two victories that the Canucks seek.

It's one thing to lose game one with but eighteen seconds to go, one that their goaltender all but stole for them, but to lose the second in OT in such a heart wrenching fashion, well that can be the old spike through the heart.

The Bruins can talk all they want and whistle past the graveyard as they have, but the Canucks can taste it now (ooops my bad, don't mean to dwell on past events), their confidence level going into the TD Gardens will be high, their momentum a motivating factor if ever there was. Their past slips in the previous series a helpful reminder as to the need for focus on just taking things one period at a time, making the adjustments as they have in the past has proven to be the key to their success and there seems little doubt that they will find a need to change that strategy from here on in.

To the credit of the Bruins coaching staff and their players they aren't conjuring up excuses, taking responsibility for their losses in Vancouver and vowing to redress their troubles and start the quest anew at home.

It's what you would expect from a proud team with a proud history, but you have to wonder if there's not a smidgeon of doubt creeping into their thoughts, despite those brave faces of resolve that boarded the plane back home on Sunday.

Game three has always been a pivotal game in the Stanley Cup playoffs and Monday night will be no different, a Canucks win would be a devastating blow to the Bruins chances, a scenario we imagine that should make for a rollicking good time in the historic old seaside town on the New England coast, a town that has hosted its share of hockey history through the decades.

If ever a game required an appropriate soundtrack this would be the one, and some of New England's favourite sons and a group rather fond of their B's have just the song, so it seems appropriate that at playoff time, we throw the scene setter to the Dropkick Murphy's.

The only question remains is if the Canucks will be the team that the song resonates for more by the time Monday's game comes to an end.

Reviews of the first two games of the Stanley Cup Finals can be found on our archive page.

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