The Vancouver Canucks dropped Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final to the Boston Bruins 4-0 as Boston looked a 2-0 series deficit in the eye and responded with two home wins of its own.
This is the third consecutive season that home teams are 4-0 passing the midway point of the Stanley Cup Final with home teams improving to 15-2 in the Final since 2009.
Games 3 and 4 of this series are forgettable for the Canucks, who were outscored 12-1 losing back-to-back games for the first time since being outscored 12-2 in dropping Games 4 and 5 to the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Semifinal.
The parallels between this and what played out against the Blackhawks are impossible to ignore and similar to that series, the Canucks need to find a way to rebound.
They played an inspired Game 6 in that series, but still lost to Chicago before capturing Game 7 to advance.
That experience will hopefully serve Vancouver well.
“We just kept plugging away,” said Kevin Bieksa on how the Canucks responded in that series.
“The battle level has got to increase a little bit, but if we keep doing the same things and not get frustrated…we’ve been resilient all year long, we’ve come back from big losses and there’s no reason we can’t do it again.”
For Vancouver to fight back, they’ve got to get to Tim Thomas, who has been masterful throughout the Final with 141 saves on 146 shots.
The Canucks went into Game 4 wanting to disrupt Thomas (now 60 saves away from passing Kirk McLean’s brilliance from 1993-94 for most saves in a single playoff run) and, instead according to Henrik Sedin, they hit him with too many point shots and didn’t follow up aggressively on rebounds.
“We had a lot of chances to put rebounds in the back of the net, but he finds a way right now to make saves and the only thing that can solve that is keep working hard,” said Henrik, who remains without a point in the Final.
“We have to play good as a team and when you’re working hard you get bounces and that’s what we’re looking for right now.”
Similar to Game 3, the Canucks had chances to strike first to start the game on this night and instead the Bruins stole the momentum. Boston opened the scoring midway through the opening frame, doubled its lead at 11:11 of the second period, added another goal just over two minutes later and put the nail in the coffin 3:39 into the third.
That final goal was the 12th allowed by Luongo in the last two games and he made way to Cory Schneider with 15:45 remaining in the game.
The popular question leading into Game 5 Friday night in Vancouver now becomes if Luongo should be between the pipes.
Bieksa, among others, believes he should be.
“You don’t pull a goalie all the time because it’s his fault, sometimes you do it just to give him a rest or shake up the team, so you can’t read into that a whole lot, it’s definitely not Roberto’s fault. It’s a team loss.”
A team loss that stings, but was an improvement from a game prior. How the Canucks respond now remains to be seen, the only thing known for sure is that the Stanley Cup will be in Boston for Game 6 Monday night.
Down 4-0 with little to no hope of a comeback was not the situation Cory Schneider wanted to be thrown into. Still, he made the best of it.
Schneider played the majority of the third period stopping all nine shots faced; he was tested early and often and he passed with flying colours.
“You don’t want to go in and give up more and feed the crowd and give them more confidence,” said Schneider, following his fourth appearance of the post-season.
“You’ve got to make a few saves early to get into it and it comes pretty naturally after that.”
Schenider said he wasn’t nervous and didn’t feel any pressure when he got the call and if coach Alain Vigneault looks his way for Game 5, he’ll be ready, although he believes Luongo should play.
“As far as I’m concerned, three lucky goals off our sticks and our bodies and I’m not sure what Lu could have done differently on those and he deserves to play the next game,” said Schneider.
“If it’s me, I’ll be ready, I’ve been ready all playoffs. My mindset hasn’t changed, I’ve been working hard these entire playoffs and if I’m called upon, I’ll be ready.”
On the Canucks again having some tough bounces go against them…
“It was a tough one. Three of the goals went off something and in and obviously we’re not getting the breaks so it’s just a matter of staying focused. Obviously we’ve got home ice advantage for a reason and we’ve got to regroup here and make sure that come Game 5 at home that we play the type of game we want to be playing.”
On the Michael Ryder goal, which made it a 2-0 game…
”Sami tried to block it and it was going high glove and it dropped about three feet. I don’t know what else I can say about that. I was out, I was challenging, I was ready and it just dropped. Obviously it’ll probably be viewed as a bad goal, but I don’t know what else to do on that play.”
On if this situation resembles that of playing Chicago in Round 1…
“Of course. Right now we’re at two-out-of-three and have home ice advantage. Obviously we would have liked to win one game here, but we worked all year to get home ice advantage and this is where it’s going to serve it’s purpose. We need to make sure we get playing the way we did in the first two home games and establish a good tempo and take it to them.”
On if it’s fair to say that you guys didn’t earn the breaks here in Boston...
“I would say they were probably the hungrier team the last two games. Usually in this game you make your own breaks and obviously we havne’t had many the last two games and I’m sure after the first two games they were complaining they didn’t get any breaks so, it’s playoff hockey, things are going to happen. I think the main thing is the way you respond. Right now we’re in a situation where we’re tied at two and heading home. It’s not time for us to put our head down, it’s time for us to make sure that we’re doing the things to we do that make us successful.”
Only two first period goals have been scored in this series; the Canucks are now 2-2 in Game 4’s in the playoffs; Vancouver fell to 1-for-20 on the power play in the series, Henrik Sedin remains one point back of Pavel Bure for second all-time in Canucks playoff scoring.