Throughout the Stanley Cup Final, backup goaltenders Cory Schneider and Tuukka Rask have been blogging their experiences for NHL.com. The Canucks' Schneider and the Bruins' Rask have two of the best seats in the building. On the bench, they see and hear everything on -- and off -- the ice.
Here are some of the highlights of what they've had to say so far:
In his first entry, Schneider talked about what it's like to be a backup goaltender in the NHL:
"As a backup, it's far more nerve-wracking to watch than it is to play. When you're playing, it's pretty hectic but you feel confident and calm in the net. Tonight, I was talking to guys who didn't dress for the game. They're in the lounge just biting their nails. It's really hard to just sit there and watch, but I've got a lot of faith in the guys out there."
A 1-0 setback in Game 1 was tough on the Bruins, especially goaltender Tim Thomas. In his first blog entry, Rask brings readers inside the head of Thomas after the loss:
"It's tough, but you just have to focus on the next one. That's one thing that Timmy is good at. He's a veteran guy. It's not the first time this has happened to him. Probably not at this stage, but you get those games every now and then. He knows how to handle that."
Meanwhile, after Game 1 Schneider said he received a lot feedback from people back home -- but not for the reason you'd expect:
"A lot of people from back home got in touch with me after the game -- a lot of texts and calls about the exciting finish. It was cool that so many people back East stayed up late to catch the end of the game and it was nice to see how happy they were for me. A couple of people sent me texts that said, 'Look alive!' because apparently I was getting a lot of camera time on the bench. They were telling me to wake up."
Between Games 1 and 2, the Canucks had a tough practice to keep them fresh. Afterward, Schneider had some time off, and he describes what the city of Vancouver is like during the playoffs:
"The atmosphere in the city has been amazing. There's been so much support. I've gotten a few drive-by shoutouts that are always fun. You could even tell the difference in the level of support from last series to this series. It's not so much people stopping me for autographs or pictures as much as it is people yelling out my name as I walk by. They might not even realize it's me until they walk past me."
Rask said he was expecting a different kind of reaction when he walked around Vancouver:
"Obviously, it's a little harder at this stage as things get crazier. It's a Canadian city, obviously, and we dealt with that in Montreal. It's the Final, too. You kind of expect all the excitement. The fans here love their team and love hockey, so we knew what to expect. You just have to be ready for that or it can be overwhelming."
Alexandre Burrows scored a goal 11 seconds into overtime of Game 2 to give the Canucks a 2-0 lead in the series. In his blog entry after the game, Schneider gave readers his play-by-play account of everything he was thinking as he watched the play unfold from the bench:
"The goal happened so fast. All of a sudden, I saw Burr walking in. With Tim Thomas coming out so far, in my head I was screaming, 'Don't shoot!' Sure enough, that was one of our scouting reports on him -- to try to pump fake it and get him out of the net. He did a great job to never give up on the puck. He's been doing that all year for us. He's definitely getting his due now."
The Canucks had to sit on a five-hour plane ride when the series shifted from Vancouver to Boston. What do players do on long plane rides? Schneider shares with his readers -- and also offers his take on a few movies and TV shows:
"I sat with Andrew Alberts on the plane. He had a couple of episodes of Pawn Stars that we watched that were pretty good. As we were landing, we finished watching I Am Number 4. It was pretty terrible. We vaguely remembered the previews where everyone was slowly walking away from explosions with no expressions on their faces. We knew it was about aliens so we thought it would be cool. It wasn't that good."
Meanwhile, Rask talked about some of the downsides of long-distance travel:
"Sometimes it is hard to get to sleep when you play in a game. It won't be for me because I didn't play, but there are guys that have that problem sometime. It's obviously harder when you play in the game. Tomorrow most of the guys on the plane will probably try to stay awake because you want to go to bed early tomorrow. We have some guys who like to sleep and some guys who don't. It's a mix."
Schneider, a Massachusetts native, was flooded with ticket requests for Game 3 in Boston. He talks about what it's like to be a player and ticket agent:
"I had to get tickets for 14 people for Game 3. When it was all said and done, I had to spend about $3,500 on the tickets. I was more than happy to do it. If you told me six months ago I'd have to shell out that kind of money, I'd definitely be excited about it because it means I'm going to be playing in the Stanley Cup Final in my hometown."
Rask provided an insider's view of the excitement of Game 4, and how happy all of the Bruins were to see a surprise guest in their dressing room after the game:
"We were so focused on the game, we didn't know anything about [Nathan Horton's] visit after the game. It was good to see him. It was a lot of smiles in the dressing room. Everybody was so happy to see him and talk to him. The crowd was amazing tonight as well. It is really celebrating when we are winning. It is a really loud crowd here and they got their money’s worth in these two games."