Canucks and Bruins battle for the cup in Game 7 at Vancouver
After eight-plus months of NHL action the Stanley Cup champion will be determined by the winner of a single game.
The Bruins and Canucks have split the first six games of the best-of-seven Stanley Cup Final and the clubs will meet one last time tonight at Vancouver’s Rogers Arena.
The Canucks figure to have the advantage heading into this evening’s decisive Game 7, as the home club has won every single game in this series so far and the Canucks are boasting a 10-3 record at Rogers Arena in the postseason. Alain Vigneault’s club has also won six straight on home ice since last losing in Vancouver during the second round against Nashville.
Boston is 5-6 as the visiting team in this postseason and has been dealt three close losses in Vancouver during this series. The Canucks posted a pair of 1-0 victories in Games 1 and 5 and Boston dropped a 3-2 overtime decision in Game 2.
The home team has not won every game of a Stanley Cup Final series since New Jersey defeated Anaheim in seven games in 2003. Hosts are also 12-3 all- time in Game 7s of the Cup Final.
The Bruins staved off elimination Monday with a home victory in Game 6, using a four-goal barrage in the first period to take a 5-2 win over the Canucks at TD Garden. All told, the B’s outscored Vancouver by a 17-3 margin over the three games in Boston.
“We needed to come out hard tonight and I thought our guys responded,” said Boston head coach Claude Julien. “Now we have to make sure we don’t get too comfortable and bring this energy to Vancouver and win it all.”
Boston’s victory on Monday forced the first Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Final since 2009, when the Penguins beat the Red Wings in Detroit for the franchise’s third championship. That series saw the home club win the first six games before Pittsburgh finally broke through with a road victory in the decisive contest.
“We know it’s going to be tough cause nothing has been easy for us up there,” said Ryder. “But it’s Game 7, if you can’t get pumped up for that you don’t deserve to be here.”
Henrik Sedin and Maxim Lapierre each scored for the Canucks, who are hoping to win the first Stanley Cup in franchise history and bring the Cup home to Canada for the first time since the Montreal Canadiens won in 1993.
“They won and we’re going back home in front of our fans for a one-game showdown to win the Cup,” said Vigneault. “This game happened, there is nothing we can do about it now. We just have to put this game behind us, get ready for Wednesday and do this for the fans.”
It was another tough game in Boston for Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo, as he was pulled just 8:35 into the game after giving up three goals on eight shots. Cory Schneider came on in relief Monday and stopped 30-of-32 shots.
Luongo also gave up four goals before being removed in Game 4, a 4-0 Canucks loss, and then responded to post a shutout in the next game. In his three games in Vancouver in the Cup Final, Luongo has stopped 95-of-97 shots and posted two shutouts. He was shelled for 15 goals on 66 shots in three games in Boston, however.
“I’m not going to make any excuses,” Luongo said of his road struggles after Game 6. “It just didn’t happen for me obviously, in all three games. I’m just going to move on right now and we have one game at home to win a Stanley Cup. We’ve had some success there as a team so that’s what we’re looking forward to right now.”
Luongo has played in two career Game 7s and has a 2-0 record and a 0.96 goals- against average in those tilts. He backstopped Vancouver to a 2-1 overtime victory over Chicago in a seventh game of this year’s Western Conference quarterfinals.
Thomas, meanwhile, is 2-2 with a 2.49 GAA in decisive seventh games over his career, but both of his wins came this spring. Boston posted a 4-3 OT win against Montreal in the opening round and Thomas recorded a shutout in the Bruins’ 1-0 triumph over Tampa Bay in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the 43-year-old Recchi has played in more Game 7s than any other skater in this series. The veteran forward has three goals and four assists in 10 career Game 7s
The Sedin twins lead Vancouver in Game 7 experience, as Henrik and Daniel have each skated in five decisive contests. Henrik has two goals and two assists in those games, while Daniel has a pair of assists.
The Canucks will try to win the club’s first Stanley Cup title without the services of forward Mason Raymond, who sustained a vertebrae compression fracture in Game 6.
On the first shift of the game, Raymond got mixed up with Boston’s Johnny Boychuk on a play in the Boston end. Raymond was bent down with Boychuk’s stick between his legs when the defenseman took him into the boards in the left corner. He remained on the ice for several minutes before being helped into the locker room by a pair of teammates.
The injury is expected to sideline Raymond for 3-4 months. Raymond had just two goals and six assists in the postseason and no points in the Cup Final.
Jeff Tambellini will replace Raymond in the lineup tonight.
Vancouver also continues to have injury concerns at the back end as well. Dan Hamhuis (undisclosed) and Aaron Rome (suspension) are still out and fellow defensemen Alex Edler and Andrew Alberts sustained undisclosed injuries in Game 6. Both Edler and Alberts are questionable for tonight’s contest.
If either Edler or Alberts misses tonight’s contest than Keith Ballard will likely be forced into action this evening. Ballard’s only dressed for one tilt in this series and that was in Game 4, when he was a minus-2 in 15 minutes, 48 seconds of ice time.
Vancouver is in the Cup Final for the first time since 1994 when they were ousted by the New York Rangers in seven games.
The Bruins have won five Stanley Cups, but none since ’72. They are 0-5 in the Final since then, the last loss coming to Edmonton in 1990.