Hostility On Steroids
If you missed Part 1…
It may just be a coincidence the Vancouver Canucks kick off the 2nd half of their regular season against Boston, but that fact could also represent something more.
All you have to do is think back to the Stanley Cup Final and when Boston would score, they scored in buckets.
They got into the Canucks heads.
I like to think the Canucks are strong mentally but losing to the Bruins on Saturday could mean the beginning of the end of this season.
What if our boys in blue lose and write themselves off because they couldn’t beat the Champs?
Now of course a loss will likely not mean this but you have to consider it. The Bruins and Canucks both sit atop the NHL standings and there is a legitimate chance they could meet in the Cup finals again, a la Detroit and Pittsburgh.
So let’s break it down; 5 things to watch for Saturday morning when Vancouver meets Boston at the TD Gardens.
The Canucks have made a good habit of scoring the first goal in their last 20 games or so and their record when doing so is stellar.
This is so important on Saturday because of what happened in the Stanley Cup Finals. One goal and it was open the floodgates; at least when games were being played IN Boston. The Bruins were in Luongo’s head faster than you can say “Bite my finger.”
It is completely plausible that this scenario repeats itself if not only the Canucks goalie isn’t on his game, but if the D doesn’t come out flying. Early breakdowns will spell disaster.
A Thunderous Hit
From that point on, not only did Boston dominate on the scoresheet; they tossed the Canucks around like rag dolls. Yes, these two sides COULD meet in the SCF again, but in a one game regular season scenario, that entire series could play out in 60 minutes.
This is absolutely key; otherwise the B’s will have their way.
There won’t be any tire pumping leading up to this game; rest assured. Simply put, the tension between each lineup is already at a bursting point. Let’s look at 3 in particular; first of all is Brad Marchand and Alex Burrows. Remember Finger/Bite-Gate? Those guys will mix it up throughout.
Then there is Vancouver boy Milan Lucic versus Ryan Kesler.
Kes, one of the more emotional guys on the Canucks will no doubt summon that emotion Saturday for some extra motivation and that will help him when he sees Lucic on the ice just about every time he’s out there.
Of course Lucic won’t lie down either.
Finally, we have Tim Thomas and Roberto Luongo. It’s still up in the air until Friday who will start for Vancouver but if it’s Luongo, you can be sure that the two masked men will be trying to one up each other all game long,
I’ve never been there, but just judging by stories from fans of all teams who went through Boston is last season’s playoffs, TD Gardens is the most hostile arena in all the NHL. Apart from Montreal, there may not be a more hated fan than a Canucks fan.
Now we saw what happened to a Canucks fan (Maggie Herger) at a game In San Jose; what the heck is going to happen to any Canucks fan in Boston; 7 months removed from the SCF.
Additionally, the crowd will be a factor on the on-ice action. Either the Bruins get ahead or they come out and lay out the first few huge hits and the crowd will be loud. That’s an understatement by the way.
The fans will be on Lu and Vancouver like a wedding ring on Kim Kardashian…oh wait.
It’ll be like PAN AM’s run on CTV…oooh wait again, sorry. Ok it’ll be worse than Brad Marchand’s facial hair; and that’s saying something.
Those Ginger Twin Lookin’ Punching Bags
The Sedins have been everything Canucks fans hoped for so far this season; back atop league scoring and leading the charge for this team. As mentioned, the entire 7 game series from last June could play out in one 60 minute tilt and the twins’ composure is key.
If the Sedins succumb to being beat, that mentality will trickle down the entire lineup. Guys will get mad; make stupid retaliatory plays and put themselves down a man more times than they’d like. Boston has the 9th ranked PP to boot.
So in short, the Sedins must handle the early barrage as best they can if the rest of the team is to stand a chance at winning on the scoreboard at the end of the night.
BEST BET TO WIN: TOO CLOSE TO CALL (I’m just a chicken!)
TO CONCLUDE, if I can just say something. I’ve read several statuses and tweets over the last couple days saying how people are scared to watch this game.
They say that they will cry if the Canucks lose or even get scored on. It’s okay to be nervous, but there is a line that needs to be drawn.
Remember what the Canucks pushed on all of us during the playoffs?
THIS IS WHAT WE LIVE FOR; never forget it.
Vancouver at Boston
Jan 7th – 1:00 PM ET