“I don’t think if we go in tomorrow and win, they’re going to give us the Cup.”
Truer words were tough to find Friday after the Vancouver Canucks practiced at Harvard University in preparation for Saturday’s matinee game against the Boston Bruins.
Coach Alain Vigneault was the man behind those words and the Canucks have truly taken them to heart.
The Canucks are saying all the right things, they have been since beating the Minnesota Wild 3-0 Wednesday night. Saturday’s game is a rematch, just not with the Cup on the line. That could certainly come to fruition with the Canucks and Bruins both at or near the top of their conferences, but for now there are two points up for grabs. That’s it.
“That’s number one for us,” said Henrik Sedin, echoing his team’s sentiments on the points on the line. “It’s always special when you play a team that you faced the year before in the playoffs, but again, we’ve played Chicago, we’ve played Nashville, we’ve played San Jose, now it’s Boston.”
Post-practice comments may have been different had the Canucks practiced at the TD Banknorth Garden Friday, instead a potential emergence of emotions will have to wait until Vancouver arrives at the arena Saturday morning.
No one knows what to expect.
“I’m sure we’re going to think back to last year’s Final,” said Henrik. “It was a special time and an exciting time so it’s going to be fun, they’ve got some loud fans and it’s always fun to play in front of those crowds.”
CUP OF JOE
Having played in the Eastern Conference for most of his NHL career, Chris Higgins knows his way around the Garden and has seen emotions take hold of players there, even during the regular season.
He has a solution: “Make sure everyone gets a couple of cups of coffee in them tomorrow, wake up a little bit, and I think everyone will be flying by puck drop,” he laughed.
Higgins will be ready to rock, you can guarantee that, and he’ll be healthy as well. The same cannot be said for his appearances in Boston last June.
“It was definitely pretty annoying to play with, but I think everyone is looking forward to this game. We came in a couple of days early and we’ve been thinking about this one, so it should be good that it’s an afternoon game, we don’t have to wait too long for it tomorrow. You get up, eat and go play.”
If only beating the Bruins was that simple.
THE SCENE OF THE CRIME
A victory is the goal, but simply being back on the ice in Boston is a great consolation prize for Mason Raymond.
The Garden was the site of Raymond suffering a serious back injury during Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final last year, not that I have to remind you.
Raymond has been back in the line-up for 16 games and he’s recorded four goals and four assists since returning.
After all he’s been through, Raymond expressed excitement at being back in Boston.
“Obviously it’s a place to remember because of the injury I had, but to be honest I think the way we played here and lost to these guys sticks out a lot more,” said Raymond, happy with how he’s progressed since the injury.
“The last time I was here it took me a long time to get from point A to point B, so I have come a long way and I’m definitely pleased with where I’m at.”
Cory Schneider was out for dinner with family and friends Thursday night in Boston, so he didn’t get a chance to catch the Bruins game.
It was, not surprisingly, playing on a nearby TV in the restaurant, however, and it took him but a few glances to see the Bruins were mightily in charge. They thumped the Calgary Flames 9-0. Boston routed the New Jersey Devils 6-1 a night earlier.
Schneider is now faced with the task of trying to cool off the NHL’s hottest team with the NHL’s hottest offence when the Vancouver Canucks face the Bruins in a rematch of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final in a Saturday matinee game at the TD Banknorth Garden.
Coach Alain Vigneault opting to start Schneider over Roberto Luongo, fresh off his 57th career shutout, has crippled Twitter with reactions ranging from supporting Schneider to calling out Luongo as a coward.
The goaltending duo had nothing to do with the final decision, and neither did either player’s performance during the Cup Final a year ago, according to Vigneault.