VANCOUVER -- The Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins say they are too worried about getting back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season to focus on a bitter rivalry that dates back to their meeting in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final.
Boston won Game 7 in Vancouver to clinch the Stanley Cup, and the three regular-season games since have all been entertaining and eventful. But with the Bruins currently in the final Eastern Conference playoff spot and the Canucks playoff cushion down to two points in the Western Conference, players are more focused on a win now.
"That kind of revenge thing is out the window as far as the Final goes and both teams are just focused on staying in that playoff race," said Bruins forward Milan Lucic, who is from Vancouver and played junior hockey locally. "Both teams are in the same position as far as playoff spots go, and that puts a lot more emphasis on how important this game is."
The Bruins are coming off back-to-back losses in Boston and start a five-game road trip with a four-point lead on the Florida Panthers for the second wild-card spot in the East. Vancouver is coming off a 5-4 overtime road win against the Chicago Blackhawks but has alternated wins and losses in eight games since the All-Star break.
While some in the media referred to this meeting as Game 11 of the series between Boston and Vancouver -- if so, it is tied at five wins apiece -- the standings are more important than a fading rivalry.
"Maybe (it's still a rivalry) between the cities or uniforms, but we have what, six or seven guys that were there," Canucks forward Alexandre Burrows said. "We would have liked to win four years ago, but they are a much different team now and we are a much different team."
The Canucks have eight players remaining on the roster from the 2011 Cup Final, while the Bruins have 11 players left (12 if you count forward Jordan Caron, who was a Black Ace in 2011). But the starting goalies have changed with Boston's Tim Thomas out of the NHL and Roberto Luongo traded from Vancouver to Florida, and some of the key antagonists in past games are moving on figuratively.
"We expect a lot of emotion out of our team for the right reasons," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "We are all fighting for a playoff spot, so there's lots of room for emotion. I don't think there's room for emotion of the past."
Here are the projected lineups:
Milan Lucic - David Krejci - David Pastrnak???
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Reilly Smith???
Chris Kelly - Carl Soderberg - Loui Eriksson???
Daniel Paille - Gregory Campbell - Craig Cunningham
Zdeno Chara - Dougie Hamilton???
Dennis Seidenberg - Adam McQuaid???
Torey Krug - Kevan Miller
Scratched: Jordan Caron, Matt Bartkowski
Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Alexandre Burrows
Chris Higgins - Linden Vey - Radim Vrbata
Derek Dorsett - Shawn Matthias - Zack Kassian
Ronalds Kenins - Bo Horvat - Jannik Hansen
Alexander Edler - Christopher Tanev
Dan Hamhuis - Luca Sbisa
Ryan Stanton - Adam Clendening
Scratched: Yannick Weber, Brandon McMillan
Injured: Frank Corrado (upper body), Nick Bonino (lower body), Kevin Bieksa (broken hand), Brad Richardson (ankle)
Status update: Don't be surprised if the Bruins mix up their defense pairings against the Canucks after Hamilton, a 21-year-old in his third NHL season, was moved off the top pairing in favor of Kevan Miller for parts of practice Thursday and the morning skate on Friday. "We moved everybody around, not just Dougie," Julien said. "Sometimes your 'Ds' go stale a little bit and sometimes there are certain matchups against certain teams that are going to be better." … McMillan joined the Canucks for the morning skate after being claimed off waivers from the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday, but the Vancouver native won't make his debut with the team he grew up cheering for against the Bruins. "I would have liked to put him in tonight being from Vancouver and everything, but he just doesn't have our systems down and I don't think that's totally fair to him," said coach Willie Desjardins, who coached McMillan at the 2010 IIHF World Junior Championship. "But we'll get him in."
Who's hot: Vrbata has two goals and six assists during a seven-game point streak despite being moved off the top line with Daniel and Henrik Sedin at even strength. … Lucic has assists in consecutive games and two goals and five assists in his past seven games.