The Vancouver Canucks will get a chance to scratch a 40 year itch if they can find a way to win game 6 in Boston tonight. The Stanley Cup is in the building, and for only the second time in franchise history, the Canucks have a chance to carry it home.
This journey the Canucks are on has been long and hard, proving once again that the Stanley Cup is the hardest trophy in all of sports to win. They have played 106 games over eight months, including over two months of grueling playoff hockey. They dealt with adversity against the Blackhawks, injuries to Mikael Samuelsson and Manny Malhotra, and had Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler play through pain. They’ve had a great ride, but there’s still one more hill to climb.
To win the Cup, they need one more win, and it won’t be easy. Vancouver has been down right terrible in both games in Boston this series, and that will need to change. Boston has been a different team on home ice, they’ve been faster and have hit harder and more often than in Vancouver. The challenge for Alain Vigneault’s men will be to match that intensity, and not allow the Bruins to dominate physically. Their passes will need to be crisp and quick, in order to nullify the Boston forecheck.
Keys to the game:
1. Move the puck. You always hear how teams want mobile ‘puck moving’ defencemen, and this is why. Chris Tanev showed how valuable that asset can be in game 5. He was so calm and cool with the puck, as Kevin Bieksa said, he looked like he could play with a cigarette in his mouth. If the Canucks can move the puck out of their zone onto the tape of their forwards instead of losing the puck off the Boston forecheck and/or dumping the puck out of the zone, it will go a long way to helping win the game. This is true in any game of course, but particularly with the Bruins, and particularly in Boston.
2. Another great game from Luongo. Roberto Luongo has been spectacular at home and terrible on the road in this series. That will need to change tonight, as the Bruins will be desperate and bound to throw a lot of pucks on net.
3. The power play. The Sedins and Ryan Kesler will need to find a way to get the power play working tonight. It hasn’t looked very good in this series, and there would be no better time for it to wake up than tonight.
Those are the three keys to the game, but of course there are many more. They’ll need to throw lots of pucks on Tim Thomas with traffic. They’ll need to clear rebounds for Luongo. They’ll need to play with desperation. They’ll need to want it more. In short, they’ll need to give it their all to win it all. And if they do, they’ll go down in Vancouver sports history, and will be legends forever.