Tag:2011 NHL Playoffs
Posted on: June 5, 2011 8:27 pm
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Posted on: June 5, 2011 8:00 pm
Edited on: June 5, 2011 9:37 pm

Canucks look to improve 'terrible' power play

BOSTON --- The Vancouver Canucks have gotten a little bit of a pass on their power play as much of the focus has gone to the Boston Bruins’ tough luck on the man-advantage.

But Canucks forward Henrik Sedin gave his frank assessment on Sunday.

“It’s terrible,” Sedin told reporters. “I mean, we scored [in Game 2], but we’re losing pucks in the wrong areas and we’re not as strong as we want do be. . . . We know we have to do better.”

The Canucks are 1-for-8 on the power play so far in the Stanley Cup Final, the lone goal coming on an Alex Burrows marker in the first period of Game 2. Vancouver has scored at more than twice the rate overall in the playoffs, converting on 26.5 percent of their chances with the extra man.

“We know we are better than that,” Sedin said.

The Bruins are 1-for-9 on the power play in this series. That success rate in the final (11.1 percent) is actually an improvement of their rating overall in the playoffs (8.6 percent).

-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: June 5, 2011 12:46 am
Edited on: June 5, 2011 1:10 am

Malhotra sheds nerves, wins faceoffs in return

After two and half months away, Manny Malhotra admitted he was on “sensory overload” as the Vancouver Canucks center made his return from a gruesome eye injury.

“I guess I really didn't settle down till after my first shift,” Malhotra said after his team won, 3-2, in overtime on Saturday to take a 2-0 lead over the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final. “It was obviously a great feeling, the ovation I got for my first shift. Once I got out there, felt a little bit better [and] started to skate.”

Malhotra, who took a puck off the eye in a game against the Colorado Avalanche on March 16, underwent two operations to restore the vision in his left eye. The Canucks ruled him out for the season days later, but he began skating with the team last month and was eventually deemed healthy enough to return to game action.

“As far as just being able to be back in the lineup, call it what you want,” Malhotra said. “For me it was just that desire to want to be back. It's always tough to watch your teammates doing what you want to do, what you love to do. But with the encouragement I had from the guys from Day 1 made me want to push myself to be a part of it again.”

Malhotra centered the fourth line in Game 2 and played 7:26 – including 1:31 on the penalty kill. Malhotra, one of the game’s best defensive forwards, didn’t lose his touch on faceoffs as he won 86 percent of his attempts.

“It's no surprise to us that he wins faceoffs,” Canucks forward Daniel Sedin said. “He's unbelievable at that. He's kept himself in shape. He's a hard-working guy. I think we expected him to play good tonight and he did.”

-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: June 4, 2011 11:53 pm
Edited on: June 5, 2011 12:19 am

Decision not to suspend Burrows bites Bruins

That bites.

Perhaps louder than the celebration in Vancouver of the overtime win in Game 2 was the cursing and outcry coming from Boston. That's because of Alex Burrows -- who plenty of people felt should have been suspended for his (alleged) bite of Patrice Bergeron's finger in Game 1.

Not only did Burrows net the winner just 11 seconds into overtime -- the second fasted overtime goal in Stanley Cup Finals history -- he was crucial to Vancouver's first two goals, including netting the first and assisting on the second goal. There was no doubt he was the star on Saturday night and it's safe to say the Canucks don't win Game 2 without him.

"Well, I mean, anybody that follows our team knows he's a really important part of our team. He plays five-on-five, he plays power-play, and he kills penalties," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. "So, you know, he's overall one of our go-to guys. Again tonight he came up big in key moments."

The decision to not suspend Burrows was questioned plenty in the off days between Game 1 and Game 2. You better believe it will be questioned even more now. Not that it matters. But good luck convincing Bruins fans of that. This will sting.

Bruins coach Claude Julien wasn't interested in talking about the controversy and how it impacted Game 2.

"If we start using that as an excuse, we're a lame team," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "It's not even a consideration."

He might not want to second-guess the decision nor will he blame the non-punishment, which is understandable, but it has to burn him and the Bruins a little, even if they won't let it on.

We know the Canucks were aware of the controversy surrounding the Game 1 play. That's because Maxim Lapierre was taunting Bergeron in Game 2 by sticking his finger up to Bergeron's mouth.

You will remember that Colin Campbell, the man who would usually be in charge of handing out disciplinary measures in such cases, is now out as dean of discipline. This was to be his last series in the role, but because his son Gregory plays for the Bruins, he recused himself. So the decision was made by Mike Murphy, who cited the lack of evidence in not suspending Burrows for Game 2. In case you somehow missed it, here it is again. And his worst nightmare just came true. This will no doubt be his defining moment of his very short time as interim dean.

It's funny how it works this way sometimes. The worst-case scenario for NHL executives happened. Perhaps the controversy would have gone away, never to be heard from again, if Burrows had a quiet game. Not now. Instead it will remain at the forefront of the off day discussion.

Now Vancouver heads to Boston up 2-0. Just to put that into proper context, teams up 2-0 in the Stanley Cup Finals win 95 percent of the time.

In Boston they cursed Bill Buckner and Aaron F***** Boone until the Red Sox ended their massive World Series drought. Now there's a new goat for them to bite into.

-- Brian Stubits

Photo: US Presswire
Posted on: June 4, 2011 11:40 pm
Edited on: June 5, 2011 12:27 am

Thomas doesn't get much help in Game 2

Tim Thomas can challenge. He can stray from his crease. He can rely on his athleticism.

That’s how the Boston Bruins goalie played all season and it worked well for him. He posted league lows in save percentage and goals-against average en route to what will likely be his second Vezina Trophy that goes to the league’s top goalie in the regular season.

But as the game-winner 11 seconds into overtime showed, Thomas needs some help to play so aggressive in net. Thomas came well out of the net as Canucks forward Alex Burrows skated in from the blue line, which was all well and good until Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara lost track of Burrows behind the net. Burrows, who was never knocked from the puck, tapped in the wraparound for a 3-2 victory at Rogers Arena in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday night.

“At the stage we’re at right now, if I ask to change his style I’m not sure that’s real good advice," Bruins coach Claude Julien said.

It's hard to fault Thomas as the Bruins dropped the first two games of the best-of-7 series. He made the first 33 saves in Game 1 before Raffi Torres scored in the closing seconds. In Game 2, he turned in a 30-save effort and there were plenty of chances that were hardly routine.

The Bruins' failures in Games 1 and 2 are more about what's happening -- or not happening -- in front of him.

Chara, a finalist for the Norris Trophy, has been asked to do more this postseason as the Bruins power play has floundered and the extra work may be catching up to him. He was again put in front of the Canucks net as the Bruins went on the man-advantage early in Game 2 before he was moved back to the point later in the contest. His volley on net during a second-period power play was deflected in by Mark Recchi, the Bruins' first power-play goal of the series and only sixth goal in 70 chances this postseason.

Chara played 28 minutes, 12 seconds -- the most by any player in Game 2 -- and was a minus-1. He was also on the ice in Game 1 when Vancouver's Raffi Torres scored the game's lone goal in the closing seconds. Let's also not forget he missed a game in the first round due to dehydration and has told reporters he's lost weight as the postseason has progressed.

“All of a sudden you lose a game and you start worrying about a couple players,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “I think it’s really about the whole team. It’s not about Zdeno. Zdeno didn’t lose the game for us tonight, the whole team did. I don’t think we played real well [and] up to what our standards are all about. I think the decision-making and puck management is what’s costing us games.”

Thomas certainly wasn’t done any favors by his defense when it came to puck possession. Defenseman Andrew Ference turned the puck over after the Bruins won the opening faceoff of the OT, setting up Burrows’ scoring chance. Ference also turned the puck over in the first period, which led to the Cancucks' first goal of the game.

-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images 

Posted on: June 4, 2011 11:03 pm

Lapierre taunts Bergeron in middle of Game 2

Nothing like a little gamesmanship in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Midway through the third period, the Canucks' Maxim Lapierre found himself right by the Bruins' Patrice Bergeron in a scrum, as in the guy who had his finger bit -- I mean, possibly bit, sorry NHL -- in the first game by Alex Burrows.

So what does Lapierre do? He put his finger right up to Bergeron's mouth, of course. Not that Bergeron took the bait, but it was still pretty funny to see.

-- Brian Stubits

Posted on: June 4, 2011 8:08 pm
Edited on: June 4, 2011 8:11 pm

Malhotra in for Canucks in Game 2, Hamhuis out

The Canucks have center Manny Malhotra back for Game 2 but won't have defenseman Dan Hamhuis.

It's Malhotra's first action this postseason, sitting out since taking a near-career-ending puck to the eye on March 16. It's a big lift for the Canucks, more emotionally than anything else. Coach Alain Vigneault has said that if/when Malhotra returned to the ice for a game, he'd be eased back into action.

The loss of Dan Hamhuis is tough. He is a key component to the Vancouver defense that held the Bruins scoreless in Game 1, averaging 22:03 minutes per game this season.

Check out the full Game 2 lineups here.

-- Brian Stubits

Posted on: June 3, 2011 4:39 pm
Edited on: June 5, 2011 9:00 pm

Would you dress like Gaga for tix? This guy did

Surely you've seen those commercials that have been running for years: What would you do-ooo-oooo, for a Klondike bar?

The Vancouver Canucks recently ran a promotion asking that very question. But instead of a Klondike bar that you buy in a six pack for a couple bucks at the grocery store, they were giving away nigh-impossible-to-attain tickets to Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals, not to mention a new Canucks jersey and a $500 gift certificate from Best Buy.

Of all the submissions in the contest, there were three winners. One pair of tickets goes to a couple that scrapped their wedding plans to get hitched between periods in a suite inside Rogers Arena. Second was a 15-year-old girl who swam across a notorious waterway in Vancouver then ran to the arena from there.

Then there was Colin Alexander. His great idea to snag some seats? Dress up like Lady Gaga for a full day's work at Country Lumber as a forklift operator. High heels and all.

Just take a look at this video.

It's good to see that, just as any self-respecting hockey fan would, Alexander refused to part with his playoff beard. But wow, that's one hideous look. Although if you ask me, he looks more like he belongs in Michael Jackson's Thriller video.

As you can imagine, no matter how outrageous the day at work might have been, it was well worth it for Alexander.

“I still haven’t heard the end of it yet, but it was very well worth it, very very well worth it.”

-- Brian Stubits

Photo: canucks.nhl.com

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