Canucks and Beyond
by Alanah McGinley on 06/06/11 at 04:40 PM ET
So far, Roberto Luongo and Tim Thomas are the featured players in this Stanley Cup Finals goalie duel, one that Justin Goldman of NHL.com describes as a “rare opportunity to watch two world collide.”
Thomas took a lot of criticism for his gaffe in game 2’s OT, but I personally don’t believe it was much warranted. We expect our goalies to take chances. If Thomas thwarts Alex Burrows in a shot coming in on his right, he’d have been hailed as a genius for taking away a very good shooting spot from Burrows. As it happened, Burrows faked him out, his defense had a breakdown, and the rest is history.
That doesn’t make Thomas a goat for game 2… he simply played the odds and he lost.
On the other end of the ice, Roberto Luongo has been playing extremely well, and keeping true to his crease most of the time has been a big key to his success. Goldman calls it a more “patient” style, which seems fair. Where Thomas takes some spectacular risks, Luongo’s own risk taking is (lately) a lot more subtle. In the matchup so far, that’s made him successful.
But just ask Dominik Hasek… sometimes crazy-goaltending lunacy pays off. Thomas will have more shining moments in this series, without a doubt.
As Thomas himself correctly remarked yesterday when asked a silly question about whether he should change his play:
I have a pretty good idea of how to play goalie. I’m not going to be taking suggestions or advice at this time. I’m just going to keep playing the way I have.
2. Zdeno Chara:
No doubt he’s already shook off his own personal game two nightmare and is ready to go. He’s a captain and a veteran. Probably not a fun time for him after Saturday, but it’s yesterday’s news. Furthermore,Chara has already faced bigger adversity this post-season, even being under the spotlight of a police investigation as his Bruins headed into Montreal for game 3, and still he didn’t falter. Boston’s GM Peter Chiarelli remarked:
“I was really impressed with the way that he [Chara] handled it and the way that he played. His play didn’t falter.”
And I don’t think he will necessarily now, either. So the question isn’t “Can Chara take hold of this series” with all the talent at his disposal, but rather, will he? I’m really not sure, but there’s no doubt he can be a big factor tonight if he gives his head a shake and gets back to business. Perhaps home-ice is the boost he needs.
Either way, Slovakia is depending on Chara to cheer up the whole country. They’re feeling a little blue about things so far.
3. Mike “The Other Bruin” Milbury:
If Alex Burrows scores another game winner in this series, inquiring minds want to know: Will Mike Milbury’s head, in fact, explode?
His comments prior to game 2.
“If I had known in the late ‘70s that it was okay to pig out on human flesh, I would have eaten Guy Lafleur,” Milbury said before the game. “This is a disgraceful call by the league…this guy should have been suspended. They’re impacting this series by a non-call. It was not very courageous.”
I’d certainly respect him for having a point and a reasonable position, if it wasn’t for Milbury’s own history. I’d argue that one’s self-righteous proclamations should probably be kept under wraps if one of the things you’re most famous for it beating a hockey fan with his own shoe.
4. Special Teams:
I don’t think it’s a big stretch to say that, if the Boston Bruins lose this series, their powerplay will be a huge part of the reason why. That’s not to take anything away from the Canucks and their penalty killing and 5-on-5 play, but it’s pretty damn astonishing that a team of the Bruins’ caliber can come so far with a powerplay that is so…well… pointless.
It’s becoming a bit of a cautionary tale, the kind coaches will tell their teams about for 20 years in the future, warning them, “There was this pretty kick-ass team out of Boston back in the day, and every time they got a powerplay, they were conditioned to skate in circles and pass pucks to their opponents. It was terrifying…”
Maybe I’m exaggerating a bit (I’m known to do that), but man, it’s not pretty. As a Canucks fan, of course I’m not complaining; but as a hockey fan, I’m pretty bewildered by it.
Is there a chance they can fix this fast enough? Or do they stick to their “We can win this 5-on-5!” plan, and just keep treating the powerplay as something to be survived rather than capitalized on?
5. Mental Game:
The NHL’s Dan Rosen and Corey Masisak pose the question, “Will the Vancouver Canucks be overconfident?” regarding tonight’s matchup.
Somehow, I doubt it. Vancouver had some big enough scares early in these playoffs, they should be well-armed against taking anything for granted. But I can imagine the excitement must be starting to get to them, and a couple games on the road are probably the best thing that can happen to them right now.
On the other side, Vancouver Sun proposes (rightly; down 3-0 is one serious hole to climb out of) that tonight is a virtual game 7 for Boston.
But I dare say that’s true for both teams.
Each have been in scary spots before in these playoffs… Vancouver, after almost taking an epic fall against the Chicago Blackhawks, and Boston also down 2-0 against the Montreal Canadiens before coming back (albeit on the road) to continue their Stanley Cup dream.
Finally, one could also wonder if the infamous Bite Heard ‘Round the World might be a distraction for either team, but I think that’s all nonsense. The Bruins have made their official position clear: it’s over and done. And Burrows? Well, his dad said to score goals, and so that’s his new route to fame (or infamy).
I suspect the only people still debating the bite are all of us outsiders watching on the sidelines and on our televisions.
But these two teams? They’re ready to play.
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About Canucks and Beyond
Alanah McGinley has been blogging hockey since 2003 (with a notable gap in time through 2010, kicking it with new baby Lucy while living knee-deep in chaos while reading "parenting for complete idiots" during every spare minute) sharing opinions, rants and not-so-deep thoughts with anyone who will listen.
In addition to writing Canucks & Beyond and helping manage Kukla's Korner, Alanah was one of the founders and co-hosts of The Crazy Canucks Podcast. She has contributed pieces to FoxSports.com and the New York Times Slapshot blog, as well as other stray destinations in cyberspace.
So that's me. Who the hell are you?
Alanah's Twitter: [@alanah1]