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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Stanley Cup comes down to one last game

The home team has won every game so far in the final round of North American pro hockey playoffs. And now there's only one game left, tomorrow at 5 p.m. The Vancouver Canucks will host the Boston Bruins. We've been checking in and out of these playoffs since they started, but with everything on the line in one game, we may have to pull up a chair and try to watch the whole thing. As best we can tell, a low-scoring contest would favor Vancouver, and a high scoring affair would almost certainly be won by Boston. Have we got that right? Anyway, as we've been saying for two months now, go Canucks!

Comments (8)

It should be great sports theater, Jack. I expect that in this particular case, if it's high scoring it'll be in favor of Vancouver because: 1) it will mean that they're cracked the stellar play of Bruins goalie, Tim Thomas, and 2) the Canucks will be at home with fans going bonkers. Low scoring favors Boston, per the inverse of the above. Vancouver has the higher-octane offense, but their off-target shooting and Boston's hot goalie have been a killer combo.

Luongo will probably rise to the occasion in goal for Vancouver once again, at home, but he better guard his short-side or he's going to get waxed again and pick up a new nickname: Short-o. Boston's zeroed in on his lax tendencies, to wit -- http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=565756

Vegas lines have Vancouver favored by 1.5. So, they'll probably win by one. My guess: 4-2 (with empty net goal in last minute or less). There'll be lots of American money on Boston, alas, an optimist's play, especially when you consider this:

Canucks Mason Raymond out 3-4 months with fractured vertebrae

Then, of course, there's stuff like this:

Roberto Luongo under fire after pumping up Tim Thomas

BOSTON — Honestly, couldn't he have just kept his yap shut? And his five-hole? Roberto Luongo may die by his words, and if he does the Vancouver Canucks go with him.


Re: "...a low-scoring contest would favor Vancouver, and a high scoring affair would almost certainly be won by Boston. Have we got that right?"

Since it is the Bruins who do the high scoring when high scoring is done, then yes, "a high-scoring affair would almost certainly be won by Boston." That is, the Bruins have triumphed when they have scored several goals (8-1, 4-0, 5-2) because the Canucks don't score many goals; they rely upon their goalie and defensemen to allow the paucity of their offense to hold up.

But the Bruins have a superb (.947 save percentage) goalie, Thomas, who has kept his team in every game despite meager offense in three of them (two 1-0s, a 3-2 OT).

The contribution of home ice has never been more obvious. Were one to predict the outcome based on the previous six contests, Vancouver will take it by, maybe, 2-1. I would prefer the Bruins counter that correlation.

It has finally become no longer too soon to watch hockey.

This has been a pretty interesting series, in that Vancouver has won 3 games at home by a total of 3 goals (one a 1-0 win in overtime), but has been blown out in every game in Boston. I'll be watching.

Watch out, it's lining up a lot like this famous series:

The ghost of my uncle Dirty Dick Donovan who played for Boston years ago will be in the arena.

A Stanley Cup seventh game in a big hockey town doesn't get much more exciting...unless it's a Stanley Cup seventh game in a big CANADIAN hockey town.

This is Canada's Super Bowl and I wouldn't miss this game for anything. One game, winner take all. It will be right up there with the 2010 Olympic Gold Medal game between the US and Canada as far as tension and crowd enthusiasm, probably even more.

Go Canucks!

There is nothing quite like the 7th game of a Stanley Cup final series. Forgive me if you will for a bit of nostalgia.

I recall attending the 7th game of the Stanley Cup final series between the Canadiens and Black Hawk 1971 at the old Chicago Stadium, back in the day of Stan Makita and Bobby Hull (for the Black Hawks) and Jean Beliveau and Henri Richard (for the Canadiens). Then as now the home team had won each game. Top to bottom the Black Hawks had superior talent, but they were finding it difficult to score against a young goalie who was a recent Cornell graduate. The afternoon of game day I was summoned out of my English class and offered the then princely sum of $250 for my ticket. I flatly refused.

The Black Hawks swarmed early and went up 2 to zip, until Jacques Lemaire hit a slow rising slapshot from the center line that shockingly somehow snuck over Tony Esposito's shoulder and into the net. Shortly thereafter Henri ("Pocket Rocket") Richard put a move around Chicago defensemen and noted pugilist Keith Magnuson that literally had Magnuson tripping over himself; Richard stuffed the puck into the back of the net to tie. Magnuson’s inability to pivot became understandable when he had major knee surgery later that summer. Another goal by Richard put the Canadiens up 3 to 2.

In the last minute of play Canadien goalie Ken Dryden stood on his head to stiff 3 Black Hawks from the slot just in front of the crease (shots by Pit Martin, Jim Pappin and Bobby Hull). The Candians won; we blood thirsty partisans politely applauded, when after the Flying Frenchmen finished shaking hands with the vanquished, they paraded the Stanley Cup around the ice.

Dryden was awarded the Conn Smythe trophy as the Stanley Cup's most valuable player and went on the next year to be named NHL rookie of the year. Dryden became a hall of famer and a noted lawyer but is probably best know south of the border for being Al Michael's broadcasting sidekick during the Miracle on Ice 1980 Lake Placid Olympics.

I can recall all this, but don't ask me what I had for dinner last night.

Newleaf, Dryden was respected and admired south of the border, too, despite the damage he did to the Bruins, among others.

This Bruins team has earned the Cup with clean, smart, disciplined, sportsman-like play.

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