Time: 8 p.m. ET
Road to Game 7It’s probably more accurate to call this "Home to Game 7."
This is the sixth time since the best-of-7 Stanley Cup Final format was implemented in 1939 that the home team has won each of the first six games. (The home team won Game 7 on three of the first five instances.) Not only has the home team won each game of this series, but each game has followed a specific trait: one-goal games in Vancouver and blowouts in Boston.
Boston forced the decisive game -- the 16th Game 7 in Stanley Cup Final history -- with a 5-2 victory at TD Garden on Monday. This will be Boston’s third Game 7 of these playoffs; the second for Vancouver.
"It's tremendous for the city and the organization and not too many people counted on us being at this point right now," said veterans Bruins center Mark Recchi, who will be playing in his 11th career Game 7 overall. "We came to play and it's coming down to one game. This is what we dream of, when you're little kids playing street hockey."
The crowd noise Recchi likely envisioned as a youth won’t come close to matching what the Bruins will face in this real-life Game 7. The Canucks fans, hungry for the team’s first Cup in the franchise’s 40-year history, will not only pack the arena, but the surrounding streets in a sea of blue and green.
"This is playoff hockey at its finest," Canucks forward Manny Malhotra said. "We have worked all year long to have that home ice advantage. [The team is] really looking forward to playing in front of 18,000 crazy Canuck fans."
The crowd is as good of an explanation as any why both teams play so differently on the road.
The Sedin twins had three points in Monday’s loss, but have yet to have a breakout game in the series. Henrik netted his first point (a goal), while Daniel had two assists for his second and third points of the Finals.
The Bruins have been bolstered of late by rookie Brad Marchand, who became the fifth rookie in league history to score nine goals in a postseason after another tally in Game 6.
In NetBoston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas is the only player on either team that performed consistently in both buildings. You can’t fault him for 1-0 losses in Games 1 and 5 and the other loss at Rogers was a 3-2 OT decision in Game 2. He has a more-than-respectable .946 save percentage in Vancouver. Combine those marks with his play throughout the playoffs --- at TD Garden and elsewhere --- and Thomas looks to have the Conn Smythe locked up.
"I'm going to try to embrace that opportunity and take the same attitude that I've taken throughout the whole playoffs," Thomas said. "Hopefully, that will get me through that one last game to get to the goal that we've been shooting for all year long."
Thomas has yet to find himself on the bench, outside the need for an extra attacker late in game. His counterpart in Vancouver hasn’t been so lucky.
Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo lasted all of 8:35 in Game 6. He surrendered three goals on eight shots and was replaced by Cory Schneider for the rest of the way. It was the second time in the series Luongo was yanked and, truthfully, he should have also rode the bench as the Canucks fell, 8-1, in Game 3.
But Luongo has been a much different goalie at Rogers Arena where he is 3-0 with a .979 save percentage and two shutouts.
"It’s the Stanley Cup Final," Luongo said. "It’s one game, winner take all. I’ve been in those situations before, I know how to handle it and I’ll be ready for it."
Despite Monday’s implosion, Luongo is expected to get the start. He won his biggest game of his career in -- the gold medal game as Team Canada edged Team USA in last year’s Winter Games -- in the same arena. His status of a big-game goalie has taken a few hits in recent weeks, but he could erase those doubts with a solid performance Wednesday.
Injury reportNathan Horton, the Bruins’ most clutch player through the first three rounds, was forced out minutes into Game 3 after a controversial collision with Vancouver defenseman Aaron Rome, who was ejected and later suspended four games. Horton was taken off on a stretcher and spent the night in the hospital with a severe concussion. He returned to TD Garden to watch Game 6, but he won’t see game action until next season.
Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg was shaken up a bit as he missed several minutes in Game 6, but he re-entered the game and is expected to play.
Second-line Vancouver winger Mason Raymond will be out of action for three to four months after he suffered a vertebral compression fracture. Raymond fell awkwardly into the boards in the opening seconds of Game 6 and was helped off the ice.
The Canucks have also been without defenseman Dan Hamhuis, who went out with an undisclosed injury in Game 1 of the Finals.
Our picksA.J. Perez: I’m going to ditch my pre-series pick and take the Bruins. Boston has been in every game in Vancouver and maybe, just maybe, they can find some of the mojo they play with at home and bring it with them north of the border. It won’t take much since Thomas has kept the Canucks honest. An early goal by the Bruins may be all that will be needed to rattle Luongo’s psyche. The Bruins need not only to get some traffic in front of Luongo, but they also need to find the shooting lanes to make the screens pay off. The Bruins and the Lightning played one of those rare contests with no penalties in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals and I don’t expect this to be a special teams battle. That’ll be a good thing for the Bruins, even though they did score twice on the power play in Game 6. I expect a low-scoring game, one where the Bruins will prevail for their first Cup since 1972.
Brian Stubits: Before the series, I picked the Bruins to win a Game 7 on the road. Why change now? They have been the better team in this series, in each of the six contests so far. Vancouver can't say the same. Thomas has played extremely well in either location while Luongo has been downright awful in Boston, including Game 6. I understand he will be more confident heading into Game 7 at home where he has been stellar, but you have to wonder how far down his confidence is to begin with. I fully expect the Canucks to come out hitting hard and try to establish a hard-hitting tempo from the opening faceoff. As has been the case in all the games so far, whoever scores first will go a long way in dictating the result and I think Boston is the team playing better all-around, Daniel Sedin guarantee or not.