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Posted On Wednesday, 06.15.2011 / 8:46 PM

NHL.com - Stanley Cup Final: Canucks vs. Bruins

Raymond gets raucous reception

The Bruins aren't the only team that hopes the sight of an injured player will rev things up.

Vancouver forward Mason Raymond, who suffered a fractured vertebra early in Game 6, sent the Rogers Arena crowd into an uproar when he stood and waved a towel during the first TV timeout 7:27 into Game 7.

The sellout crowd of 18,860 hit a peak decibel count of 112 as they watched on the big screen as Raymond, wearing a brace to protect his injured back, waved his towel.

The Canucks say they hope Raymond will be back in the lineup by late November. For now, he'll have to settle for the role of head cheerleader.

In Game 6, Boston fans roared when forward Nathan Horton, injured in Game 3, made a similar appearance. Horton was able to travel with the team to Vancouver for Game 7.

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Posted On Wednesday, 06.15.2011 / 8:40 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - Stanley Cup Final: Canucks vs. Bruins

Dropkick Murphys front man glad to be in Vancouver

Ken Casey had no problem making an extra trip to Vancouver on Wednesday.

Casey, the front man for Boston punk rock group Dropkick Murphys, hopped on the plane Boston chartered for family and staff that left Massachusetts this morning to attend Game 7.

"To think this organization has never been involved in a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Final and here I am at the first one, it’s pretty powerful stuff," said Casey, who will be back in Vancouver later this month when the Murphys play the Commodore Ballroom here in support of their critically acclaimed new album, "Going  Out in Style."

But first there is some hockey business here to be attended to.

Casey has been a long-time season-ticket holder for the Bruins, and he believes his club has a good chance of winning the Cup on Wednesday night.

"If they play physical they have a chance," he said. "When this club plays physical, you have seen it all year long, they are at their best. It is a good sign that they have been talking about it for the past two days."

Casey is the first to admit he hasn’t always been so optimistic. He almost gave up his season tickets a few years ago, but a last-minute intervention by former Boston player Don Sweeney, now with the Bruins' front office, saved the day.

"I was talking with Sweeney about that on the plane out here," Casey said, standing outside Rogers Arena and taking some good-natured heckling from Vancouver fans. "They really put their money where their mouth was and built a great team and now here we are."

If the Bruins win Wednesday night and claim the Cup, the Murphys will likely play a big part in the championship parade back in Boston, just as they did when the Red Sox won their recent titles.
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Posted On Wednesday, 06.15.2011 / 1:02 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Stanley Cup Final: Canucks vs. Bruins

Thomas could set new mark with Conn Smythe win.

After allowing a single goal or less in four of the first six Stanley Cup Final games, the general consensus heading into Game 7 is that Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas might win the Conn Smythe Trophy regardless of which team wins Wednesday (8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS). If Thomas does win the Smythe, it could be a notable moment in the history of this coveted award.

At age 37, Thomas would become the oldest player ever to win the playoff MVP. Currently that distinction is held by another goaltender, Glenn Hall, who earned the honor in 1968 at age 36 with the St. Louis Blues, which lost in the Final to the Montreal Canadiens. If, like Hall, Thomas wins the Smythe in a losing effort, he would become the sixth player -- five of them goalies -- to do so.

Not long ago, this award was reserved primarily for players in their 30s. Between 1996 and 2002, seven consecutive Smythe winners were 32 or older. That streak included Scott Stevens, who was a few months shy of Hall’s record when he won the award in 2000. In more recent years, however, the race for Conn Smythe has been a young man's game. Four of the last six winners have been 24 or younger and the last two -- Jonathan Toews and Evgeni Malkin -- won it as 22-year-olds.

While Thomas would become just the sixth player to earn the honor at age 34 or older, 14 players age 24 or younger have won the Smythe. Incidentally, there is one player who appears on both lists. Three-time winner Patrick Roy was just 20 when he became the youngest-ever recipient of the Smythe, with the Canadiens in 1986. In 2001, he won it again with the Avalanche at age 35.

There are other goaltending records in play for Thomas. With one more stop, he will establish a new record for saves in a playoff season, this after establishing a new benchmark for save percentage in the regular season. If Thomas captures the Smythe and the Vezina this season, he’ll be just the third goalie to do so, after the Flyers’ Bernie Parent and Ron Hextall.

Not bad for an old man.
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Posted On Wednesday, 06.15.2011 / 12:00 PM

By Emily Kaplan -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Stanley Cup Final: Canucks vs. Bruins

Total eclipse of the Cup?

The stars might be aligned just right for Boston to win Game 7 tonight.

As the Canucks and Bruins prepare take the ice in Vancouver for the decisive game in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, people in parts of Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia will be staring up at the sky to see the first total lunar eclipse of 2011.

The more than 100-minute event -- the longest lunar eclipse in nearly 11 years -- will feature the moon passing behind the Earth so that the Earth blocks the sun's rays from striking the moon.

It won't be visible at all in North America -- but that doesn't mean Bostonians aren't paying attention.

In 2004, when the Boston Red Sox swept the St. Louis Cardinals to win the World Series, a lunar eclipse occurred on the night of the Game 4 clincher.

The World Series victory snapped an 86-year championship drought for the Red Sox as they broke the "Curse of the Bambino." The Bruins haven't won a Stanley Cup since 1972.

However, the Earth and moon aligning isn't the only superstition going on in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. The Canucks have a good luck omen of their own.

Vancouver was the host city for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Prior to that, each time the Olympics were held in Canada, the host city's NHL team won the Stanley Cup the next year. The list includes the 1977 Canadiens after the 1976 Montreal Games, and the 1989 Flames after the 1988 Calgary Games.

So which superstition wins out, the bizarre galactic coincidence or the simple Olympic tradition? Tune in to Game 7 to find out.


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Posted On Monday, 06.13.2011 / 9:45 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Stanley Cup Final: Canucks vs. Bruins

Historic first period at TD Garden

History was made at TD Garden during the first period of Game 6 on Monday night.

During a wild opening 20 minutes, the Boston Bruins set the Stanley Cup Final record for the fastest four goals by one team as they accomplished the feat in 4:14. The previous record was 5:29, set in Game 4 of the 1956 Stanley Cup Final by the Montreal Canadiens against Detroit.

The  Bruins also tied the Stanley Cup Final record for the most first-period goals by one team. Twelve other teams scored four times in a first period, but it hadn't been done in 15 years, as the Colorado Avalanche were the last team to do it in 1996 against Florida.

Also, Brad Marchand's first-period goal made him the fifth rookie in NHL history with as many as nine goals in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He also became the 11th rookie with as many as 16 points in one postseason.

Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo, who is 3-0 in Vancouver in this series, was pulled 8:35 into the first period Monday night. He has allowed 15 goals on 66 shots in Boston and has an 8.05 goals-against average and .773 save percentage.

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Posted On Saturday, 06.11.2011 / 1:59 AM

By Dhiren Mahiban -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Stanley Cup Final: Canucks vs. Bruins

Fans in frenzy after Game 5 win

VANCOUVER – An estimated crowd of 70,000 to 100,000 people were in the downtown core for Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final -- and many of them will now likely party into the early hours of Saturday morning after the Canucks beat the Boston Bruins 1-0.

By 3 p.m. local time, bars along Water Street in Gastown had significant lineups, and bar patios along Burrard Street were at capacity well before puck drop.

Georgia Street, one of the city's main arteries in to the downtown core, was shut down at noon on Friday to accommodate those who planned to watch the game on a large screen set up at the intersection of Georgia and Hamilton, outside of the CBC's Vancouver bureau.

Once the final buzzer sounded, three to four city blocks were jammed with fans taking in the game.

If the scene after Vancouver's 3-2 win in Game 2 win last Saturday night was any indication, traffic will not be getting through on Granville Street, in the city's popular entertainment district, until well into Saturday morning.

Canucks fans have been waiting 17 long years to see their team get back to the Stanley Cup Final, and coming on the heels of the 2010 Winter Olympics last February, have been using the Final run to re-create the festive atmosphere created by the Olympics.

Fans will pour into Rogers Arena by the thousands once again on Monday night to take in Game 6 on the big screen. Canucks Sports and Entertainment has opened the building to fans at $10 a ticket, with proceeds going to charity.

Games 3 and 4 sold out, and tickets were fetching over $100 on sites like Craigslist.

Many in Vancouver feel a Stanley Cup win will be bigger than the Olympic gold won by Canada last winter. It will be to no one's surprise that the celebration will be larger, and last longer, if the Canucks can cash in.

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Posted On Friday, 06.10.2011 / 5:34 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Stanley Cup Final: Canucks vs. Bruins

Thomas, Luongo follow different paths to Final

While Roberto Luongo and Tim Thomas were both nominated for the Vezina Trophy this season and represented their countries at the 2010 Olympics, any similarities between the opposing Stanley Cup Final goaltenders end with how they entered the League.

In 1994, Thomas was selected in the ninth round by the Quebec Nordiques -- in a round that no longer exists by a team that no longer exists. By the time Luongo was drafted with the fourth pick in the 1997 first round, the highest selection ever used on a goaltender, Thomas was shuttling between three different leagues on two different continents.

Today they're battling for the Stanley Cup.

For some time, taking goalies at the top of the draft was a recipe for Stanley Cup success. In fact, from 1976 to 1998, 10 of the 11 starting goaltenders who won the Stanley Cup were taken in the third round or higher. That all changed in 1999, when the undrafted Ed Belfour led the Stars to Lord Stanley over 10th-round selection Dominik Hasek of the Sabres. That Final marked the first time in the modern era that two goaltenders so overlooked in the Draft faced off in the Final. The feat was practically duplicated three years later, when Hasek faced off against fellow 10th-rounder Arturs Irbe.
 
These exploits marked something of a shift in where goalies came from in their quest for Stanley Cup glory. In fact, since 1998, goalies undrafted or selected behind their counterpart have gone 8-4 in the Final. Coupled with the undrafted Antti Niemi hoisting the Cup last season, that bodes well for Thomas and the Bruins. But it’s not an exact science.

Four of the last seven Cup-winning goalies have been first-rounders, starting with the 2003 series, the first in the modern era to see two opening-round netminders -- Martin Brodeur and Jean-Sebastien Giguere -- face off. If nothing else, it all shows how a goaltender can follow a variety of paths towards Lord Stanley's Cup.

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Posted On Thursday, 06.09.2011 / 8:51 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Stanley Cup Final: Canucks vs. Bruins

Bruins ready for world-class Luongo in Game 5

VANCOUVER -- Tim Thomas has allowed one goal in the last two games and all of Vancouver can't stop talking about him. He's red-hot and whether the Canucks want to admit it or keep trying to fool themselves, in all likelihood Thomas is in their heads, dominating the mental game in the Stanley Cup Final.

On the flip side, Roberto Luongo has allowed 12 goals in the last two games and all of Boston can't stop talking about him. He's ice cold, but the Bruins insist they are not in his head.

Can it go both ways like that? Even if the Bruins do think they've got Luongo on tilt, do you really think they'd admit it?

"I don't think we're in Luongo's head at all," Brad Marchand said Thursday afternoon once the Bruins arrived in Vancouver. "He's one of those goalies that can shake a game off and get a shutout the next game. We just have to pray we're fortunate enough to get even one (Friday) night."

C'mon, really? Marchand has to be playing some of his own head games with that quote

Fortunate to get even one? They scored 12 over two games against Luongo in Boston.

"A lot of the goals have been kind of the not-so-straight-shot goals, so I don't think it's going to hurt his confidence at all," Rich Peverley, Boston's offensive hero in Game 4, told NHL.com. "He's a top caliber goalie, one of the best in the League. You know he's going to bring his 'A' game (Friday)."

Shawn Thornton said the same thing when he was asked about the Bruins' potentially being in Luongo's head. Despite the fact that Luongo was sieve-like at TD Garden, the Bruins' expectation is that he returns to being world-class in Game 5.

Luongo has given up four or more goals in back-to-back games twice in these playoffs, but he's also given up two or fewer goals in 13 of his 21 starts. He allowed four or more goals eight times during the regular season, including three games in a row in October.

"The guy doesn't have a gold medal for no reason. He can play," Thornton said. "I don't think anybody assumes we're in his kitchen now. He's going to have an unbelievable game (Friday) night, I'm sure. I know we're going to have our hands full."

So will Luongo.

"We have to keep playing the same way and that's all we need to worry about," Patrice Bergeron said. "Just keep doing the same thing we've been doing."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Thursday, 06.09.2011 / 4:52 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Stanley Cup Final: Canucks vs. Bruins

Thornton excited for first game in Vancouver

VANCOUVER -- After coming straight from Vancouver International Airport to Rogers Arena, the usually energetic and quick-witted Shawn Thornton didn't seem himself Thursday. Of course, the party line among the players in the visiting locker room here was despite winning two straight games in Boston, the series was simply tied 2-2 and there was nothing to celebrate.

But come on, Shawn. You're not the least bit excited?

"You probably can't tell right now because I just got off the plane, but I'm pretty excited," Thornton cracked.

The rigors of six-hour, cross-country flights mixed with the grueling intensity of the Stanley Cup Final against the Vancouver Canucks will wear down even the toughest of players. But with Game 5 about 24 hours away, Thornton feels the Bruins' complete performance in a 4-0 victory in Game 4 won't be enough if they want to win at Rogers Arena.

"We're going to have to play a lot better than we did yesterday because we know they're going to be a lot better," Thornton said. "We have to put in the same effort, if not more. Nothing special happened. We've just evened up the series. I think we've done a good job of keeping our focus."

Thornton spent the first two games of the series watching from the press box, so this will be his first crack at playing in Vancouver during this series. After losing a pair of one-goal games here to open the series, the Bruins dismantled the Canucks 12-1 in two games in Boston.

Have the Bruins figured out the Canucks?

"There's a little more familiarity with these guys now," Thornton said. "Maybe we were a little surprised the first couple games. The game's a lot easier up there (in the press box). We know what to expect. I don't know if that's easier or not. It's the same on both sides, right? So they know what to expect too."

So does Thornton, whose excitement is perhaps tempered because he knows his role on the Bruins.

"They have last change," Thornton said,  "so I don't know how much ice time I'll be getting."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Posted On Wednesday, 06.08.2011 / 11:17 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Stanley Cup Final: Canucks vs. Bruins

Home-ice advantage is key at Stanley Cup Final

Once again, it's the home team that has reigned supreme in the Stanley Cup Final.

With the Boston Bruins' 4-0 win against the Vancouver Canucks in Game 4 at TD Garden on Wednesday night, home clubs improved to 4-0 in the Stanley Cup Final for the third consecutive season.

In 2009, the home team won the first six games before the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Detroit Red Wings in Game 7 at Joe Louis Arena. In 2010, the home team was 5-0 until Patrick Kane's goal lifted the Chicago Blackhawks over the Philadelphia Flyers in overtime of Game 6 at the Wells Fargo Center.

In the 20 years prior to 2009, the home team won the first four games just once. That happened in 2003, when the New Jersey Devils beat the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in seven games.

With Boston's win on Wednesday night, home teams improved to 15-2 in the Stanley Cup Final since 2009.
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