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Six Questions: Will Canucks be overconfident?

Monday, 06.06.2011 / 11:31 AM / 2011 Stanley Cup Final - Canucks v Bruins

By Dan Rosen and Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writers

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Six Questions: Will Canucks be overconfident?
Is there any danger of overconfidence on the Canucks' part? Will the Bruins continue their mastery of Game 3s? NHL.com delves into the pressing questions as the Stanley Cup Final shifts to Boston.
BOSTON -- The Stanley Cup Final has shifted to Boston with the Bruins in a desperate situation, down 2-0 to the Vancouver Canucks. Game 3 is set for Monday at TD Garden (8 p.m. ET, VERSUS, CBC, RDS), and it's as close to being a must-win for the home team as it gets before they actually do play in a must-win game.
 
Boston would, of course, like to avoid that -- and to do so it won't have to change too much. Games 1 and 2 were close and tight-checking games won by the Canucks with 18.5 ticks left on the regulation clock in Game 1 and 11 seconds into an overtime that barely got started in Saturday's Game 2.
 
The Bruins are right there, a sniff away from being tied or perhaps even ahead in the Final. But the Canucks have been the better team in the third period, and that's why they're halfway to lifting Lord Stanley's Cup.
 
What should you be thinking about going into Game 3? Well, as usual, we have your questions … and answers.
 
1. Should Vancouver fans worry about their team being overconfident?
 
In short, no. We could also say absolutely not, zero possibility of that, and forget about it.
 
The Canucks have actually bored the media with some of their "it's about the process," and "take it one game at a time" remarks in these playoffs. While those comments may not fill the news cycle, the approach has absolutely worked for the Canucks and it's not going to change now.
 
They were saying all the right things following their dramatic 3-2 overtime win Saturday night. Heck, Ryan Kesler was asked what it's like to be halfway to the Cup, and he responded like this:
 
"Are we?"
 
He didn't want to talk about it. He only wanted to talk about how they won Game 2 and how they now have to completely erase it from their minds.
 
"It's all about Game 3 now," Daniel Sedin said.
 
The Canucks are certainly confident. They should be, too. But overconfidence doesn't seem to be an issue with these guys, so don't worry about it at all.
 
2. Do the Canucks have to change anything to play "a typical road game?"
 
Again, the answer is no because they've actually played a pretty good road style the last two games -- and both of them were at home.
 
Vancouver grinded it out against the Bruins in the first two periods of Games 1 and 2, and by doing so was able to wear out the visitors and take over in the third. It led to victories in both games.
 
That's pretty much how they have to play Monday to win Game 3. It won't take anything fancy from the Canucks (though they are capable of that) to play a game that can beat the Bruins. It will, however, take strength on the puck, tenacity in the corners, a heavy and hard forecheck and some discipline.
 
The Canucks put all of that together in Games 1 and 2. If you didn't know where you were, you might have thought they were the visitors.
 
3. Can Roberto Luongo continue his hot play or will the unfriendly environment fluster him?
 
Giving up two goals in two games is a pretty good way to start a Stanley Cup Final. Luongo had a shutout streak of 138 minutes and 54 seconds snapped when Milan Lucic scored nine minutes into the second period of Game 2. He gave up a deflection power-play goal to Mark Recchi 2:35 later, but closed the door on the Bruins the rest of the night and finished with 28 saves.
 
Now you have to figure it will get just a wee bit tougher on the Canucks goalie because the crowd will likely be chanting "Luuuu" in a much more derogatory way than the 18,860 usually do at Rogers Arena. Luongo has also been much better at home in these playoffs than on the road.
 
His numbers read like this: At home, Luongo is 9-3 with a 1.84 goals-against average, .938 save percentage and three shutouts. On the road, he's 5-3 with a 2.68 GAA, .910 save percentage and zero shutouts.
 
Notice the dip in his GAA and save percentage -- those are the two stats that truly measure a goalie's successes and failures.
 
However, Luongo is 4-1 in his last five road starts with a 2.14 GAA and .926 save percentage. His problems were mostly in Chicago, where he gave up goals in bunches and had a bloated 3.94 GAA and dangerously low .877 save percentage.
 
Either he got used to playing in the unfriendly buildings or the Canucks got better around him. It's actually a combination of the two, so the answer to the third question is probably no, Luongo won't be flustered by the unfriendly environment.
 
It's instead up to the Bruins to cool him off.
 
4. Will Game 3 be Boston's time yet again?

Boston has struggled in Game 1 this postseason, losing three of the four series openers. The Bruins have been a little better in Game 2s (2-2), but Game 3 has been their day in each of the three series.

Game 3 helped set the stage for Boston's comeback from a 2-0 hole against Montreal, it gave them a 3-0 lead against Philadelphia, and it put them in control at the time against Tampa Bay. If the Bruins are going to rally from two games down again, they will need another standout effort in Game 3.

The Bruins have relied on their ability to bounce back from tough losses, and they are trying to shrug off two of the toughest in this postseason -- one in the final minute of regulation and one in the first minute of overtime.

"Well it's not something you're totally thinking about all the time,” Rich Peverley said of being down 2-0 in the series. "But we feel confident -- we've been down before, so it's something we've done. Going forward here, I think we just worry about next game and if we win the next game, we worry about Game 4 after that.”

5. Is the Boston power play cured?

The Bruins have a power-play goal in this series, and through two games are all square with the Canucks in special teams production. Boston players and coach Claude Julien also lauded the team's effort on the power play in Game 1, even though the Bruins went 0-for-6.

The key moving forward for the Bruins is to keep the momentum going. Boston's power-play goal wasn't exactly a portrait of beautiful play -- it was a wrist shot from the point that found a stick and caught a deflection. Any shot on the power play can be a good one, though, and the Bruins need to continue to fire away at Roberto Luongo.

It will be interesting to see if Julien continues to move Zdeno Chara around on the man advantage. It was his shot that Mark Recchi deflected, but Chara still isn't bombing away with his 100-mph slap shot nearly enough when he's back at the point.

"[The media] makes a bigger deal about that than us,” Recchi said. "We believe in each other. We trust in each other and we're trying hard. It was a big goal at the time and that's the most important thing. It doesn't matter that it was power play or 5-on-5. It is just something we have to continue to work on. Our power play, I think, has been in this series so far in two games and we have to continue that. At the same time, we have to try to not make mistakes and give them opportunities.”

6. Can the Bruins get more out of their bottom two lines?

Vancouver's third line has had two strong games. The fourth line now has a healthy Manny Malhotra and the trio saw more ice time in Game 2. Boston's bottom six forwards have not had the same kind of impact, and the Bruins need their depth up front to be an advantage in this matchup.

Julien moved Peverley up to the third line during Game 2 and said he liked that trio with Chris Kelly and Michael Ryder. It is a unit that has seen time together previously in the playoffs and after Kelly and Peverley were added near the trade deadline.

Where this leaves rookie Tyler Seguin, should Julien continue to play Peverley on the third line, is the question. Does he get bumped down to center the fourth line, and see even less ice time than he's been getting? Or does Shawn Thornton draw into the lineup for the first time this series to give the Bruins more energy and physical play on that line?
Quote of the Day

There's no discouragement in that room. There's no issues there at all to be honest with you. It's more about, 'Hey, it's opportunities for players.' And if we become that bad of a team because of one player, it's not a real good sign for our hockey club. So this is part of sports. It's part of hockey.

— Bruins coach Claude Julien on the loss of Zdeno Chara to injury
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