VANCOUVER (CBS) – Ask those in the know in sports which game in a best-of-seven series is the most important game to win and all will tell you: the fourth game.
True. The next most important? Many will say Game Two.
Both the Bruins and Canucks are 2-1 in the second games of each of their three play-off series.
The NHL stats may say something different:
Teams winning Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final have gone on to win the championship in 55 of 71 seasons (77%) since the League introduced the best-of-seven format in 1939.
But, recent history shows that the winner of Game Two in the past 8 Stanley Cup Finals has gone on to win the Cup 7 times. That’s 7-1.
Horton, Seguin and Ryder talk before the game
Don’t get me wrong. We know this Bruins team can bounce back from any situation when they’re down. They did it all regular season and they were down 0-2 heading to Montreal for Game Three.
So, yes, if they lose it’s not the end of the world. But it will feel like it for some.
Yes, this feels different.
The Bruins would get a tremendous boost heading back home with a victory. It’s a long plane ride home and there won’t be much sleep in between games two and three. I would think their energy level would be much, much higher if the series is 1-1. They also wouldn’t have the pressure of having to take games 3 and 4 back in Boston.
How do they do win Game Two?
We start with Tim Thomas, who was his brilliant self in the opener. If he plays like that (33 saves, 1 goal allowed) he’ll be fine.
Meanwhile, one of my fears for this game is that Thomas will continue to get run at by the Canuck forwards. The Canucks feeling is that Thomas plays out of the crease as he cuts down shooting angles. They assume he’s fair game out there.
Here’s what Thomas had to say, courtesy of the Associated Press:
“I have the right to go anywhere there’s open ice. If I’m set, I have a right to that ice,” Thomas said. “If I’m out of the paint and I’m set, I also have the right of way to get back to the crease. That’s the way I understand it.”
When you watch hockey you know that this is walking a fine line as to what the rules say and what they really are. In other words, it’s something that you just don’t do and it should be called interference if Vancouver does it, just like hitting a guy without the puck. Watch out for this tonight. If a penalty or two is called early against the Canucks it bodes well for Thomas.
Next up, the power play. The unit looked much better early on in Game One. The umbrella up top and Chara down low worked well. The B’s generated good puck movement and several good scoring opportunities. There just needs to be more of it. Lucic, Horton, and Recchi all need to get in front of Roberto Luongo.
Still amazing to me that this Bruins team has 12 wins and has scored 58 goals in the postseason, second only to Tampa Bay’s 59(Vancouver has 51 goals btw). All that while only scoring 5 power play goals. Daniel Sedin has 5 power play goals this postseason! The Canucks have 17.
It’s simply time for the Bruins to get one or two PPG’s. Period.
The Bruins also need their first line to score. They played pretty well in Game One, but they need to be better. David Krecji has 4 game-winning goals in these play-offs while Nathan Horton, a-k-a Big Papi, has 3 game-winners. One of those two needs to do it again. And, don’t forget about Milan Lucic. He can be the difference-maker in these Cup Finals.
And finally, I think it’s been to the Bruins advantage to have had an extra day off between the first two games for one big reason: they are ticked off.
They are angry at the media for writing them off before and after Game One.
Brad Marchand: “It just seems like everyone is putting us down. It seems like we don’t have a chance in this series, but…obviously they’ve got a great team and it seems like we’re the underdog.”
Milan Lucic: “Obviously as media goes we can’t control what you guys say, that’s why we try not to watch or read too much of what you guys say.”
The Bruins play much better when they are angry. It’s been that way all year. They use it as motivation. They’ll use it tonight.
Who wins? Good question. The B’s played well enough to win Game One, but they know they need to play better. However, the question may also be how much better does Vancouver play? Can the Sedin twins get on the board?
As we know the Canucks are a dangerous team, but I also think the angry Bruins are too.
I like the B’s to win Game Two and to head back to the Garden Monday night with a split here in Vancouver.
Enjoy the game.