One game remains before the light goes out on the 2011 season for the Vancouver Canucks, with one emotion left to be experienced. That emotion will be strong, perhaps extreme.
Rather than examine all of the forces that have gathered us to this point, perhaps one of the biggest storylines: How will the city of Vancouver, the province and country for that matter, react to tonight’s pivotal outcome?
The collective breaths of millions of fans was held during Game 6, knowing that hockey’s holy grail was ready for the taking Monday in Boston. Buoyed by their home fans and a desire not to have the Stanley Cup hoisted in their rink without them, the Bruins fought to force Game 7 in Vancouver. The stakes cannot be any higher, and the Canucks now must fight to avoid having the same thing happen in front of their home fans.
The following are the four keys to deciphering early whether Vancouver will follow the pattern of the home team winning every game this series.
If the Canucks ever had an advantage in this series, this one trumps all. Of course, this is not to say that Boston is a slow team. They’re playing in the Finals for a reason, but a comparison throughout the lineups shows the Canucks to have a definite edge. Look especially towards Ryan Kesler, and Jannik Hansen early, this will most likely be a factor early. Because Mason Raymond is out, Alex Burrows will be counted on heavily here as well.
Every game at Rogers Arena has witnessed a strong physical element from the Canucks, which has facilitated positive results. Though the Bruins hold the edge in toughness, the Canucks have put the Bruins on their toes when hitting. In Game 5, the Canucks outhit the Bruins by nearly a 2-1 margin. When Boston has less time to make decisions with the puck, forced to decide where to pass it because of oncoming pressure, the Canucks benefit. Look to Raffi Torres, Alex Burrows, Jannik Hansen and Ryan Kesler to star here, with players like Tambellini and Oreskovich being X-Factors.
Defense puck movement
With the defense corps hurting, and their pairings shot to hell, how Edler, Ehrhoff, Bieksa, Salo, Alberts and Tanev distribute the puck breaking out will be important. When the Canucks have gotten in trouble, it began with the defense not connecting with the winger(s) breaking out of their zone. The Bruins forecheck has been one of the constants in this series, and if the Canucks aren’t making fast, decisive passes early, the game will get away from them.
Luongo’s mental composure
Well Roberto, welcome to the “next most important game of your life”. This series has seen some incredible swings in goaltending, and the stage is set for one last gala. Luongo’s mental preparation for this game goes a long way towards deciding the outcome. His ability to put behind him everything that has transpired, and focus on what is to come is of paramount importance. There is no question he starts Game 7. Essentially, he needs to be in goal right to the end of it for the Canucks to come away with their ultimate goal. He’s played extremely well in front of the 18,860 at Rogers Arena. To engrave his name on the Cup, he’ll have to play as well, or better, than he’s played there before.
The above 4 keys will reveal significant information early in the contest. It’s now all on the line, with Lord Stanley’s Cup awaiting the best/ luckiest team later tonight. What will be the last emotion left following this series? Whatever it is, we know it will resonate for many, many years to come.
Topics: 2011 NHL Playoffs, Alex Burrows, Alex Edler, Boston Bruins, Chris Tanev, Christian Ehrhoff, Daniel Sedin, Game 7, Henrik Sedin, Kevin Bieksa, Mason Raymond, Roberto Luongo, Ryan Kesler, Stanley Cup, Stanley Cup Finals, Vancouver Canucks