BostonBruins.com - Although they already find themselves up 1-0 in the Stanley Cup Final series, Vancouver head coach Alain Vigneault is stressing the importance of tonight’s Game 2 to his team.
|Vancouver Canucks coach Alain Vigneault watches team drills from center ice during practice for the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals, Friday, June 3, 2011, in Vancouver, British Columbia. The Canucks host the Boston Bruins in Game 2 of the best-of-seven games series on Saturday. The Canucks lead 1-0. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson) |
Vancouver took away the Game 1 victory with a slim 1-0 win. Raffi Torres scored the game’s lone goal with just 18.5 seconds remaining in regulation, and the Canucks went 0-6 on the power play—an area they typically excel in.
If they wish to keep their home-ice advantage, earned via having the best regular season record in the NHL, Vancouver has to come out with a win tonight.
“I think for both teams obviously it's a very important game. For them, without a doubt, they're thinking about coming in here and getting at least a split. We're thinking about keeping home-ice advantage,” Vigneault said.
Although the importance of getting a win tonight isn’t lost on his team, Vigneault is still taking everything one game at a time—no matter if it’s the Stanley Cup Final or not.
It’s something that many teams have trouble with, not making changes just because it’s the playoffs. Sticking with what got you here is a key component to a deep playoff run and something that Vigneault, and Bruins head coach Claude Julien, has done well.
“I've said this a thousand times: we're playing every game, we're getting ready for every game one at a time. We put a plan out for the players,” said Vigneault. “We expect them to go out and execute. After we've played that game, we analyze it, make the adjustments we need, and move on.”
Wednesday’s game ended with a ‘W’ for Vancouver, but they didn’t feel they played their strongest. In addition to their power plays woes, Boston was able to maintain possession in the offensive zone for long periods of time and Vancouver wasn’t able to get set up behind the B’s defensemen.
“I thought the first game was a very good game as far as us getting better in the game. We had our best period in the third. We had been off for eight days. I thought in the third period we were playing faster. We showed more speed on the ice.
“I expect that to continue here in Game 2.”
One glaringly bright spot in Vancouver’s Game 1 performance, was the play of goaltender Roberto Luongo. Luongo, a Vezina finalist alongside Boston’s Tim Thomas, recorded a Game 1 shutout for the third time this postseason.
“You need great goaltending. You need great goaltending to be where we are right now. Obviously Roberto has given us that,” Vigneault said.
“I feel right now he's playing some of his best hockey.”
Vancouver line-up questions
The Canucks have a couple of line-up questions heading into Game 2, and coach Vigneault isn’t giving many answers.
Forward Manny Malhotra has been back practicing with the team of late after suffering a career-threatening eye injury on March 16. A deflected puck hit him in the eye and he has been sidelined ever since.
Malhotra has been skating with the Canucks reserve players, but it seems a return could be possible.
Vigneault though, isn’t saying much.
“Manny is day to day.”
Another question mark for Vancouver is Dan Hamhuis. Hamhuis was injured in the second period of Game 1 on a play in which he checked B’s winger Milan Lucic. Lucic went heels over head in front of the Bruins bench and Hamhuis left the bench, never returning.
Again, Vigneault isn’t saying much on the matter.
“Dan is still day to day. We'll figure things out tomorrow.”