One game, one goal
By Joey Kenward & Derek Jory
The Stanley Cup will be presented at Rogers Arena this evening as the Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins face off in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Both teams have identical win-loss records in the playoffs and have the same records on home ice as they do on the road. This will be Vancouver’s second Game 7 of these playoffs and second Game 7 in the Final. The Bruins will be playing their third Game 7 this spring, which ties a league record. Boston is also making their first ever appearance in a Game 7 in the Final.
The only roster change expected from either team tonight is Jeff Tambellini coming into the Vancouver line-up for the injured Mason Raymond. Alex Edler did not take the morning skate but coach Alain Vigneault confirmed this morning the defenceman is “good to go.”
The Canucks are playing their final home game of the year tonight. During the regular season, Vancouver had a league-best home ice record of 24-17-0. This post-season, they are 10-3 and are currently riding a six-game winning streak at Rogers Arena.
It’s the biggest game in Canucks franchise history and the players are treating it as such and also as just a regular game.
”We realize obviously what's at stake, which means you have to be focused every time you're out,” said Kevin Bieksa.
“Every shift could determine the outcome of the game, but at the same time, we're playing the game of hockey so the rules are the same and the ice is the same and the pucks are the same. So you've got to go out and play. You can't put too much pressure on yourself.”
The Bruins, playing their last road game of the campaign, went 24-12-5 away from Boston. To this point in the playoffs, they are 5-6 on the road, which includes a current five-game losing streak.
Tonight marks the 16th Stanley Cup Final that will be decided by a Game 7. The home team is 12-3 in those Game 7s. The last Game 7 won by a road team was the last time a Cup was decided in a Game 7, with the Pittsburgh Penguins defeating the Red Wings in Detroit in 2009.
Raffi Torres and the injured Mikael Samuelsson are the only Canucks to have appeared in a Game 7 in a Cup Final, while Mark Recchi and Andrew Ference are the only Bruins.
Whoever has scored the first goal in each game of this series has gone on to win. Only in Game 2 has a team given up the lead in a game. The last time a lead change took place in Game 7 of a Stanley Cup Final was in 1987 when the Philadelphia Flyers opened the scoring in Edmonton before the Oilers scored three unanswered.
The first goal is obviously a must, but if it doesn’t pan out for the Canucks, they’ll remain confident in themselves.
”If you don't believe that in this room, we're screwed,” said Daniel Sedin. “So everyone, we believe in ourselves here, and it's no different now.
“We should be proud of what we've done this year so far. Taking this to a Game 7, home ice advantage in the Stanley Cup Final, what else can you ask for? We're out to enjoy it and we're going to play our best game of the season. I'm sure if we do that, we will have a good chance.”
Through six games Roberto Luongo has a combined 3.50 GAA and a .896 save percentage. Lifetime, Luongo is 2-0 in a Game 7 scenario. He posted a 4-1 win over the Dallas Stars in Round 1 Apr. 23, 2007 before winning this past April 26 in the opening round against the Chicago Blackhawks (2-1).
Whether his team wins or loses tonight, Tim Thomas could be named the winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy. In this series, he has a combined 1.34 GAA and .962 save percentage. Lifetime, Thomas is 2-2 in Game 7 situations.
If there has been one clutch player for the Canucks in recent series where they have won, it would be Alex Burrows. In four of the last five playoff series the Canucks have come out on top, Burrows has combined for six goals and one assist in the winning games.