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Category: NHL playoffs

Stanley Cup finals practice: Words fly on day that pucks don't

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Greetings from Boston, where it’s chilly and raining and everyone is antsy for Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals, to be played Monday at TD Garden with the Cup in the house. A win by the Vancouver Canucks would make them the first Canada-based team to win the trophy since the Montreal Canadiens triumphed over the Kings in 1993; a home win by the Bruins would send the series back to Vancouver for Game 7 on Wednesday.

The verbal jabs between the Canucks and Bruins continued to dominate the conversation Sunday, maybe because two days between games is one too many. But the ripple effects of Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo’s post-Game 5 comments continued, with his Boston counterpart, Tim Thomas, joining in.

To recap: After the Canucks’ 1-0 victory in Game 5, with Maxim Lapierre scoring the only goal after a shot by Kevin Bieksa caromed off the end boards, Luongo was asked to evaluate the play from a goalie’s perspective. His response: “It's not hard if you're playing in the paint. It's an easy save for me, but if you're wandering out and aggressive like he does, that's going to happen. He might make some saves that I won't, but in a case like that, we want to take advantage of a bounce like that and make sure we're in a good position to bury those.”

The Bruins didn’t take kindly to what might have been intended as a contrast of their goaltending styles but came off as an insult to Thomas, but Luongo didn’t seem to care.

“I’ve been pumping his tires since the series started and I haven’t heard one nice thing he’s had to say about me,” Luongo told reporters before the team’s flight to Boston.

Thomas said Sunday he’s more focused on the task ahead than on what Luongo is saying but couldn’t resist taking a shot. “I didn't realize it was my job to pump his tires,” Thomas said after the Bruins’ practice. “I guess I have to apologize for that.”

We’ll have more coverage later, after the Canucks’ practice.

--Helene Elliott, in Boston

Photo: Bruins goalkeeper Tim Thomas tries in vain to get back into the paint to stop a shot by Vancouver's Maxim Lapierre in the third period of Game 5 on Friday night. Credit: Julie Jacobson / Associated Press

Times guest blogger Bobby Ryan breaks down Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals

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It was another goaltender battle in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals, a 1-0 victory for Vancouver over Boston. Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo was obviously the star of the show. He certainly deserved to be first star of the game. He made some big saves and anytime you pitch a shutout in the Stanley Cup finals, it’s huge.

Game 5 went exactly as I thought it would go. The pace of the game was very good. Vancouver and Boston didn’t trade chances as much as in previous games. It was definitely more of a reserved, defensive-style game than earlier in the series. Since Vancouver got blown out twice in Boston, I thought they would recover and play the style of game that they did.

The thing that surprised me most was that the Maxim Lapierre line had numerous chances throughout the game and dominated their matchups. I was happy for Max when he scored early in the third period. He’s looked good throughout the series and played a reserved, quiet game. He went about his business and got rewarded for it. Even though he was in Anaheim for just a short period of time earlier this season, it was cool to see him contribute in a big way.

The Bruins have to find a way for their depth lines to provide more offense. They have to solve Luongo, like they did in Games 3 and 4 at the TD Garden in Boston. The big thing for the Bruins is to get more traffic in front of the net and make him uncomfortable. Luongo is a goalie who could become unsure of himself at times. But he looked so calm and steady last game; if he plays like that again, it’s going to be scary for Boston.

Home ice didn’t seem like much of an advantage early in the Stanley Cup playoffs, but it has meant everything in the finals with the home team winning the all five games of the series. The distance between Vancouver and Boston is a huge factor and those are two very tough buildings to play in. The fans can really rally around their team when things are going well and momentum is in their favor. I’m not surprised to see the home team winning as much as they are, though I think Game 6 is going to be different.

Luongo is going to be confident heading into Monday’s game. Vancouver closes it out in six.

--Bobby Ryan

The Times is pleased to have Ducks winger Bobby Ryan blogging for us, along with Ducks teammates Corey Perry and George Parros, during the Stanley Cup finals.

Photo: Bobby Ryan. Credit: Los Angeles Times

Stanley Cup finals Game 5: Boston 0, Vancouver 0 after two periods

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Like the opening period of Game 5, the second period was scoreless as the tension mounted and fans held their breath on every Canucks scoring chance. Vancouver had an edge in shots, 12-9, in the period but neither team could finish anything off.

The Canucks had the best chance about 12 minutes and 40 seconds into the period. That’s when defenseman Chris Tanev, inserted into the lineup in place of Keith Ballard, made an excellent pass that put Tanner Glass in alone deep on the left side. Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas was out of position and the net was probably half empty for Glass, but he fanned on the shot while fans groaned in frustration.

Each team had surges when it exerted some pressure but neither managed to succeed. The Bruins had one power play during the period and the Canucks had two.

Check back for more coverage at www.latimes.com/sports.

--Helene Elliott in Vancouver, Canada

Photo: Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa (3) knocks down Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid (54) in the second period of Game 5 on Friday night at Rogers Arena in Vancouver. Credit: Jason O. Watson / US Presswire

Stanley Cup finals Game 5: Boston 0, Vancouver 0 after one period

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The first period of Game 5 was scoreless but lively because of the furious pace and consistent physicality. The Vancouver Canucks got the game’s first three penalties but escaped unscathed, to the delight of a pumped-up crowd at Rogers Arena.

Each team had a player sent to the box with 33 seconds remaining in the period, after Boston’s Milan Lucic tripped Vancouver’s Alex Burrows and both were penalized. The call on Lucic was tripping and the call on Burrows was unsportsmanlike conduct for embellishing the trip, and both were correctly made by officials who wisely exerted their authority before anything stupid could happen.

A few moments earlier Vancouver’s Maxim Lapierre had taken a mild jab in the ribs from Boston’s Zdeno Chara and tried to sell it as an offense worthy of life imprisonment, and the officials clearly didn’t want to see any more antics.

The Bruins outshot the Canucks, 12-6, with Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo regaining fans’ affection by making several excellent stops. He had a point-blank stop on a shot by Patrice Bergeron during Boston’s third power play and drew roars from the crowd. The Canucks were credited with 23 hits, including five by defenseman Alexander Edler. Boston was credited with 13 hits.

More coverage later at www.latimes.com/sports.

--Helene Elliott in Vancouver, Canada

Photo: Canucks right wing Maxim Lapierre, right, checks Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference in the first period of Game 5 on Thursday night in Vancouver. Credit: Julie Jacobson / Associated Press

Stanley Cup finals Game 5: Looks like Chris Tanev will replace Keith Ballard for Canucks

Chris1 Greetings from Vancouver, where the Canucks had a well-attended morning skate in advance of Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals against the Boston Bruins on Friday at Rogers Arena. Defenseman Dan Hamhuis, injured in Game 1, again didn’t skate but Coach Alain Vigneault said Hamhuis will accompany the team back to Boston for Game 6 on Monday.

Vigneault almost never discusses lineup decisions, but based on who came off the ice early and who stayed out to skate with the players who are usually scratched, it appears Keith Ballard will be out of the lineup and Chris Tanev will be in on the Canucks’ defense in Game 5.

Ballard struggled in Game 4 and was -2 defensively. Asked about Tanev, who has appeared in only two playoff games and bounced between the Canucks and their Manitoba farm team this season, Vigneault was careful not to give away his intentions.

“When we've used Chris this year he's real steady, can make a first pass at the forecheck,” Vigneault said. “He's a kid that was playing in Manitoba, and we got in injury trouble and he came up and did a real solid job for us.”

Tanev, 22, played one season at the Rochester (N.Y.) Institute of Technology, whose program was elevated to Division I in 2005.

“He’s has had a great year for us and came kind of out of nowhere. Came from a great program at RIT,” teammate Kevin Bieksa said, drawing laughter from reporters who surrounded him.

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Times guest blogger Corey Perry breaks down Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals

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Hello from London, Ontario! Well, it’s a best-of-three now after last night’s 4-0 shutout for the Boston Bruins. I think Boston came out and dominated right from the start. They’ve been the more physical team and I think it’s starting to wear down Vancouver. It’s the Stanley Cup Final and everything’s on the line. Everyone is playing with their hearts on their sleeves.

It was great to see Rich Peverley come out and get those two goals. I played with him over at the World Championships last year and he’s just a great guy. He’s a guy that gets it…he goes out there and does whatever he can to win. He battles hard and puts everything on the line. It showed last night. Those are the bounces you’re going to get if you go to the greasy areas. He has found a way to step up his game. Missing a guy like Horton is obviously a huge blow to their team – but there are guys in their dressing room that are going to step up.

I heard that Peverley got the “team jacket” after last night’s win – and it must have been extra special that Horton was the guy that handed it to him. Those are team-building things that guys look forward to. You want to be the guy at the end of the game getting that jacket because you want to go out there and do whatever you can to help your team. It’s great when your teammates notice that.

I think Tim Thomas has really stepped up as well. He got a lot of criticism for the overtime goal in Game 2, where he came out and challenged Burrows. But that’s his style of play and he’s going to use it to his advantage. He’s an acrobatic goalie and he fights for every puck and every rebound.

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Stanley Cup finals Game 4: Boston 3, Vancouver 0 after two periods

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The Bruins scored twice and extended their lead to 3-0 in the second period. Goalie Roberto Luongo looked bad on the first of those goals but everything went wrong for the Canucks on the latter goal, which was scored while the teams were skating four on four.

Boston made it 2-0 at 11:11 on a fluttering shot by Michael Ryder. Vancouver defenseman Sami Salostuck out his stick just as Ryder was shooting but Luongo should have had the shot, which knuckled beneath his glove. 

Brad Marchand, continuing a strong performance, made it 3-0 on a short backhander at 13:29. The Canucks couldn’t handle the puck behind their own net and gave it away twice before Patrice Bergeron passed to Marchand, who took full advantage of the gift.

Through two periods, the Bruins had outscored the Canucks, 11-1, in the two games at TD Garden.

There was far less of the nasty, post-whistle nonsense that had marred the previous three games, but each team got its fair share of unpenalized hacks and whacks.

Check back for more at www.latimes.com/sports.

RELATED:

Keeping the ice (and tempers) cool will be key in Game 4 of Stanley Cup finals

NHL general managers recommend expanding rule on hits to the head

-- Helene Elliott reporting from Boston

Photo: Boston's Michael Ryder, second from right, celebrates with teammates Chris Kelly, far left, Tyler Seguin, second from left, and Adam McQuaid after scoring in the second period during Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals on Wednesday. Credit: Charles Krupa / Associated Press

 

Stanley Cup finals Game 4: Boston 1, Vancouver 0 after one period

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To start Game No. 4 the Bruins brought in iconic No. 4, Hall of Fame defenseman Bobby Orr, to start their ritual pregame passing of a Bruins banner around the lower level. Orr, the greatest defenseman to ever lace up a pair of skates, drew a roaring ovation from the pumped-up crowd at TD Garden.

The only goal of the first period was scored by Rich Peverley, who replaced the injured Nathan Horton on the Bruins’ top line. Zdeno Chara began the play with a fine passout to David Krejci, who threaded a terrific pass to Peverley without any challenge from Vancouver defenseman Alexander Edler. With Raffi Torres out of position Peverley skated in alone and sent a shot through Roberto Luongo’s leg pads at 11:59.  

The Canucks had two power plays in the period but couldn’t capitalize, leaving them one for 18 with the manpower advantage in the Cup finals.

The Canucks had a 12-6 edge in shots, including the first shot on goal of the finals by center Henrik Sedin.

Check back for more at latimes.com/sports

RELATED:

Keeping the ice (and tempers) cool will be key in Game 4 of Stanley Cup finals

NHL general managers recommend expanding rule on hits to the head

-- Helene Elliott reporting from Boston

Photo: Bruins forward Rich Peverley scores on Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo during the first period of Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals on Wednesday. Credit: Charles Krupa / Associated Press

Stanley Cup finals Game 4: Keeping the ice and tempers cool

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Predictions of record heat in Boston have caused some concern about the quality of the ice for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals Wednesday night at TD Garden.

As the NHL playoffs have extended deeper into June, the condition of the ice has become a problem in many cities. Throw in the fact that most arenas are occupied by concerts and other events between games and you have a lot of work for the ice maintenance crew and can expect a lot of odd bounces during games.

At least this isn’t the old Boston Garden, which had no air conditioning. It turned into a sauna in the springtime and suffered power outages in the 1988 and 1990 playoffs.

Bruins Coach Claude Julien told reporters the ice was fine for his team’s morning skate Wednesday.

“Well, I know I was flying. I don’t know if you guys noticed,” he said, drawing laughter from the assembled media horde.

Vancouver’s Henrik Sedin said the ice would be manageable for the 5 p.m. Pacific time start. “It’s the same for both teams,” said Sedin, whose team will take a 2-1 series lead into Wednesday's game. “We’ve been on this ice before.”

The aftermath of Vancouver defenseman Aaron Rome’s hit on Boston winger Nathan Horton in Game 3 led both teams to make lineup adjustments, though neither would specify its plans. Rome was suspended four games Tuesday for what the NHL termed a late hit that caused serious injury to Horton, who was diagnosed with a severe concussion. Horton isn’t expected to play again in the finals.

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Bruins' Nathan Horton out for rest of Cup finals; Aaron Rome suspended [Updated]

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The Boston Bruins took the unusual step Tuesday of announcing that forward Nathan Horton would miss the rest of the Stanley Cup finals because of a “severe” concussion, the result of a hit by Vancouver defenseman Aaron Rome the night before in the first period of Game 3.

Rome was summoned for a hearing with Mike Murphy, the NHL’s senior vice president of hockey operations, at 8 a.m. Pacific time Tuesday. The Bruins’ willingness to disclose the nature and seriousness of Horton’s injury is probably their way of lobbying for a long suspension for Rome, who got a five-minute major penalty for interference and a game misconduct.

[Updated at 9:53 a.m.: Rome was handed a four-game suspension following the hearing Tuesday morning.]

Game 4 will be played Wednesday at Boston’s TD Garden, so a ruling from Murphy was expected Tuesday afternoon, Boston time.

The Bruins, who went on to rout the Canucks, 8-1, and cut the Canucks’ series lead to two games to one, were not scheduled to practice Tuesday. The Canucks were scheduled to practice at Boston University’s Walter Brown Arena.

The guess here is a two-game suspension for Rome.

We’ll have more coverage later, at www.latimes.com/sports

RELATED:

Helene Elliott: Bruins respond to vicious hit by routing Canucks, 8-1, in Game 3

Disciplinary hearing set for Aaron Rome after blindside hit on Nathan Horton

-- Helene Elliott in Boston

Photo: Vancouver defenseman Aaron Rome is escorted off the ice by linesman Pierre Racicot as medical personnel tend to Boston right wing Nathan Horton in the first period during Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals on Monday. Credit: Winslow Townson / Associated Press

 

Stanley Cup finals: Boston destroys Vancouver, 8-1, in Game 3

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The Stanley Cup finals took a turn toward ugly with a detour through frightening in Game 3 on Monday, as a vicious hit by Vancouver defenseman Aaron Rome sent Boston winger Nathan Horton to the hospital on a stretcher and the simmering tension between the teams boiled over.

Despite his absence the Bruins scored four times in the second period and four times in a contentious third period to skate off with an 8-1 victory at TD Garden that cut the Canucks’ series lead to two games to one. Jannik Hansen’s goal with 6:07 left in the final period was the Canucks’ only success in 41 shots against Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas.

Before the teams meet in Game 4 on Wednesday in Boston, the NHL will have the chance to state how serious it is about punishing blindside hits to the head, a topic it has focused on the last year.

Horton was crossing the Canucks’ blue line when Rome slammed his left shoulder into his head nearly a second after Horton had passed the puck. Horton fell backward and hit his helmeted head hard on the ice, remaining motionless on his back for several minutes while medical personnel tended to him. Rome was given a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct.

Horton was said to be resting at Massachusetts General Hospital and was able to move all of his extremities. That news triggered roars when relayed to the sellout crowd of 17,965.

The rap sheet is lengthening for the Canucks. In Game 1, winger Alexandre Burrows bit the gloved fingers of Boston center Patrice Bergeron; in Game 2, center Maxim Lapierre thrust his fingers in Bergeron’s face and taunted him, daring Bergeron to bite the fingers.

Both teams lost their poise in the third period and earned an array of 10-minute misconducts. Bruins winger Milan Lucic was seen pointing his fingers toward Burrows’ mouth and taunting him during a post-whistle scrum at 11:16 of the third period as hostilities erupted at nearly every stoppage.

The Bruins didn’t score on the five-minute power play they gained on Rome’s interference penalty but they broke the game open in the second period.

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